As my second week without alcohol comes to a close, it still feels as if I am “sampling” this new way of life. It’s like I’m pretending to be a non-drinker, and while this act seems to be fooling everyone just fine, it doesn’t quite feel real to me just yet.
But at the same time, life is starting to feel realer that ever. I was so mentally checked out for all those years that I truly forgot what it was like to be human.
Looking at my life through this new sober lens feels a lot like how I imagine life would appear from my deathbed. I constantly have that feeling Eckart Tolle describes in his book, A New Earth. It’s as if there are two versions of me – me the observer, and me the physical body who thinks, feels, and does.
Lost Time, Not Lost Hope
As the fog lifts a little more each day allowing me to live more fully in the present, the observer version of me is able to acknowledge memories and feelings as they come and make connections between seemingly unrelated experiences that I never saw before.
This is particularly true as I think back to the last time I was completely sober, almost 13 years ago. The summer between high school and college was the last time I lived on this earth as a sober member of society. I literally have not been completely sober since 2006 – George W. Bush was still our current president.
Like WTF? I left my mind in the post-September 11th era of American history, only to return to this insane world that is 2019 where the president bangs porn stars and tweets like I used to update my Facebook posts.
I now see what people mean about feeling the “pink cloud.” Even when I am hit with these harsh statistics about my life (and they come at me constantly!) these sobering reminders are also accompanied by an unfamiliar feeling of excitement, as I realize that I have an entire life that I closed the door on, still waiting to be discovered.
The physical version of me (the one who thinks and feels) occasionally gets waves of regret realizing all the time, money, and countless opportunities I passed up while I was busy getting belligerently fucked up all those years. But this new side of me, the observer, simply notes the tough emotion, acknowledges it, and lets it pass in favor of the present moment that is real life.
Did I singlehandedly snort over a quarter million dollars worth of pills and blow? Yes. Am I proud of this fact? Fuck no. But you know what? What’s done is done. Unfortunately that money has been spent, and it was an expensive lesson that I will have to live with as I begin sorting out my life and cleaning up all the messes I left in my way.
Instead of throwing myself into oncoming traffic for being such an expensive shit-show all these years, I am going to take my 6 figure lesson and turn it into something meaningful.
Breaking Up With My Past
This is literally my only option. I cannot continue living the way I have been living, nor do I want to. It’s time to learn to live my life the way it was intended, and I am determined to take everything I have gained from my various addictions and turn this story into something meaningful. I don’t know how exactly this will manifest, but deep down I know that I was given this second chance at life for a reason.
I am doing something I’ve never done before, and I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t scary. I am grieving my old life, but I also know that it’s time to turn the page and try something new.
Alcohol and drugs were my true loves up until now. They never left my side as I navigated the world as a young adult. Friends came and went, I fell in and out of love, but those two loyal companions stuck by my side through the good times and the bad.
But as will most abusive relationships, I was in pretty deep before seeing the red flags. By the time I realized they were just two sneaky assholes in disguise, I was already long gone. I knew it was all a lie, but my abusers were good. Their charm always won me back over, conveniently helping me ignore the blatant signs that they were shitting all over my life.
Remembering What Oprah Said
While I was lucky enough to get through my addiction without physically landing myself behind bars, I now realize that I was in figurative jail the entire time. I have two weeks under my belt and I’m beginning to taste freedom, but I also fully realize that I could be sent back to the slammer suddenly and permanently if I’m not careful.
“Difficulties come when you don’t pay attention to life’s whisper. Life always whispers to you first, but if you ignore the whisper, sooner or later you’ll get a scream.”Oprah Winfrey
The powers that be know that I have a problem, but I was given this opportunity to redeem myself. They trust that I have invested enough of my time and energy into this to give life another try, but they are also keeping a close eye on me, waiting to snatch me back up at the first sign of trouble.
I have a lot of un-fucking to do in my life. With new sobriety comes clarity that I got really lucky. I dodged so many bullets in life and learned lessons before they whacked me in the face and ruined my life. I know deep in my heart that Oprah is right though, and if I keep choosing drugs and alcohol the “scream” is coming next.
So in a sense, I am out on bail. My addiction could easily get me locked back up into the viscous cycle of addiction, but at the same time sobriety keeps trying to pull me back out into the world, trusting that I will pay my dues and choose the honest and righteous life.
As I now embark on the third week of this experiment, I will continue using my lost time as motivation. The last 13 years are done, there is no redo for that part of life. I fucked up and I’m paying the price, I can’t keep beating myself up over what I can no longer change.
But knowing that I can create the life of my dreams if I stick to this? Now that is something to get excited about.