A while back, Time and the Bottle posted two interesting lists regarding drinking and sobriety. The first list was “What I Want from Sobriety” and the second was “What I Expect from Drinking.” On the eve of my one-year sobriety date, I thought I’d post my responses.
First, what I want from sobriety (and what I’ve already gained):
- A True Sense of Myself – Since I’m always changing, even from one moment to the next, this is a relative thing. Still, there are core truths that go deeper and have staying power (my love of music, dedicating to writing, and so forth). More than that, though, I want sobriety to keep me clear as I discover who I am through the ups and downs of life. It’s not always pretty, but it’s authentic. I was told in very early sobriety that I would re-discover myself, and it’s true.
- Less Anxiety – My addiction counselor Katie assured me that a lot of my anxiety came from drinking so much, and I wanted to believe her. Even though I still take medicine for generalized anxiety and can still freak out from time to time, I no longer have terrible panic attacks, and while I often prefer solitude and tending to my interior life, venturing outside the house doesn’t fill me with dread. Granted, I take medication for anxiety, but at least it has the chance to work without alcohol constantly flooding my system.
- Better Relationships – This is primarily with my immediate family, especially my children, who are still quite young. Parenting is stressful (and often feels downright impossible), but expecting alcohol to make the job easier is ridiculous. Sobriety continues to let me look into my children’s eyes and truly see them and experience life with them. That’s hard to remember sometimes when they seem hell-bent on destroying each other, but I know it’s true.
- More Focus on My Passions – Folks in the recovery community told me that I didn’t get to choose what I numbed out when I drank; if I looked to suppress the so-called “bad” feelings, I also suppressed the ability to experience contentment and joy. I also arrested any real momentum with writing and creating music. I certainly continued to make music and write, but I spent more time thinking about it and less time doing it. That’s not the case anymore.
- Hope for the Future – I came to a point in my drinking when I was utterly assured that I would die due to alcohol. I didn’t know what shape that would take, and I didn’t much care. It was a terrible place to be, and before rehab, I felt completely alone. I’d never experienced that level of hopelessness and complete despair before, and I pray I never do again.
I’m going to wait on the other list, which may take the form of a letter to alcohol. Maybe I’ll pen it tomorrow when I mark one sober year.
Be well, and happy, sober Monday to all.