I opened the sobriety tracker app on my phone in order to update this blog with my current “score”. With wide eyes and trembling hands, I tell you this: the number I see there is utterly startling. I am looking at it as if it’s a forgein word rather than a straightforward number because it doesn’t make sense to me.
Days. That’s a lot of days. A lot of sober days and nights and hours and minutes. It’s a lot of weekends, family gatherings, trips to the grocery store, loads of laundry, and bottle drives for my son’s football team.
Since quitting, I have made it through weddings and vacations and awards banquets and book clubs. My sober state feels comfortable and normal, but it still takes constant effort.
525. It’s such a big number – it feels like it should have more significance or weight. When you are struggling through day 3, you just want to make it to day 4. At some point I put my head down and stopped counting. I just kept plowing and here I am.
Let me tell you some things I’ve been keeping to myself. Come inside my unpickled head and explore the terrain on Day 525. These are the things that I don’t tell to people around me, but I know you will understand.
Confession A: It pisses me off when someone drinks one of my “special drinks”……
My head nearly spun right around when I walked into the lake cottage and saw my 11-year-old nephew slurping a can of grapefruit San Pelligrino. Those were for me! I tried to fight the panic rising in my chest – what was I going to drink if I ran out fo those? It could be a very long vacation…..
Once I was passing by a neighbour’s house just as the (normally calm) mother was screaming at her (normally adorable) kids: “Don’t touch my f–king stuff. How many times do I have to tell you not to touch my F–KING STUFF!!?” Now, hey – no judgement – we have all snapped our twig on occassion and had moments we pray no one overheard through an open window. But that instance has stuck with me. I don’t want to be that person.
I try not to be possessive. I try to keep the fridge and pantry stocked with enough to share. I try to pick drinks that won’t appeal to the kids (and keep other things that they prefer). [Note: the one sure thing NO ONE wanted to drink was Chinotto. Including me. What the hell is that.....?]
But honestly, on a hot day when my husband cracks the last can of Pelligrino for himself, when he has a fridge full of beer in the garage, there is a brief moment when I want to wig out at him. Then I remember that it is better for him to not have a beer anyway, and that I am a big girl who does not have temper tantrums, and I carry on.
For that teensy little moment, though , I think of all my sober brothers and sisters and I know that you would understand. I think of you and give you a little wink.
Confession: I want to tell people that I am sober, but I don’t….
It’s kind of like telling people when you have your period. It might help them understand what’s going on for you, but then it’s just awkward and you realize they don’t really want/need to know that much about you. I wish everyone in recovery had a yellow dot on their nose that only other addicts could see. That would be super helpful. Otherwise, I keep it on the downlow and don’t talk about it much – except here, anonymously.
Confession: It bothers me when the folks who DO know I’m sober ask if I am ever going to drink again…
I know they don’t mean it to be, but it is insulting. I answer patiently, “All I know is this – right now, I don’t want a glass of wine, I want a whole bottle of wine. So probably I need to stick with not drinking at all for now.” In truth, it feels like they are asking, “Is all this really necessary?”
The answer is “yes”. And screw off.
Confession: I have a lot of anger to muck through.
All of those feelings I tried to suppress with alcohol seem to bubble up and need dealing with. Little by little I am being freed. I am not afraid of facing difficult things anymore. I try to stop the inner rants and the pity-party invitations that happen when you go through all the details of how someone has hurt you. Instead I have been sweeping up the things that feed my anger and use them to create a statement of truth. I did this just today - I was stewing over a recent betrayal by someone in my family I stopped and said to myself, “This person is weak and selfish. Stop expect her to behave differentlly.”
Confession: Some moments of weakness are just plain hilarious.
I was at a formal gala and my patience was wearing thin. I was ready to go home but had to schmooze the room for another 30 minutes before I could sneak away. Everyone had had lots to drink by this time, and the smell of alcohol was heavy in the air.
I was speaking to a rather shy fellow, a supplier to my business who was chattier than usual thanks to the red wine he was drinking. I could smell it on his breath as he spoke and as he gestured with his wineglass little fumes of alcohol tickled my nose. I realized I wasn’t listening to his story at all, but focussing on the wine. Suddenly I envisioned myself grabbing his face with both hands and licking the red wine off his lips and teeth! It was so ridiculous that I started to laugh out loud, which only made him think his story was all the more entertaining. I excused myself and went home, still chuckling at the insanity of it all.
Confession: You keep me going
I love getting the email that says, “You have a new comment” or “You have a new follower”. I love hearing from you, love knowing that this blog has helped you, and love being on this journey together. I couldn’t do this without you. Thank you for your friendship, encouragement, your love, advice, questions, and support.