Those of you that are of the “I’ll-never-be-sober-for-more-than-3-days-at-a-go” variety: This one’s for you.
I used to be you.
Once upon a time, everything I did seemed impossibly difficult: Work. Sleep. Human interaction.
And perhaps, it’s because I did it all, drunk. Yes, being wasted made everything seem so much easier. So, effortless. If I wasn’t drunk already, my drinks were the carrots I dangled in front of my every errand and task. It was my only reward: Get through this shift, get through this conversation, get through this day. Then — Boom Shakalaka: Get your drink on guuurrrlll!
Well, the thing is, this type of reward system ends up failing. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but eventually, it will collapse. It will collapse fast and hard, like: JENGA muthafuckas! There comes a time when Jim Beam’s dangling carrot is no longer enough. And when you get to that point, there’s a big ol’ fork in the road:
Path #1: Get real with your bad self.
Or, the more likely, ever-popular:
Path #2: Start drinking more, more, more!
And, much like the song, once you’ve gone down the more-more-more path, things get real shitty, real fast.
I’ll spare you the deets of my oh-so-graceful alcoholic timeline. But, suffice it to say, in the end, for me, the “getting real” option became my only option. It was an internal switch. No one flipped it for me. It’s a conclusion I had to come to alone. And, the best I can tell you is, when your compass points due North, start walking. (And, prepare for shit storms.)
Getting sober is one of the craziest things I’ve ever done. And, it continues to baffle me that, not only have I been able to maintain this lifestyle, but, I’ve managed to embrace it. Without my dangling-carrot, my anesthetic, my liquid-modus-operandi: things started to hurt. My body ached. My head felt swollen. I didn’t sleep. Oh, and the apocalyptic, paralyzing, plutonium-reactor-grade emotional melt down. Yeah. That.
Yes, there’s the initial shock-wave, but soon after, the real motivations begin to emerge. Craziness and truth start to separate like oil and water. The truth is: I didn’t give up drinking to feel good. I gave up drinking, because I didn’t know what feeling good felt like anymore. There’s a big distinction.
I realized that, this time, I was for real. I didn’t give up drinking for 30 days just to say I did. The word “sobriety” became relevant when I finally came to terms with the fact that I gave up drinking as an acknowledgment of something larger. Something bigger was at work. That thing I’d been putting off for over a decade…Yeah: It’s pain.
And yes, pain sucks, until that amazing moment when you realize you are experiencing something. And suddenly, it’s like: “Oooh, so this is what pain feels like…”
After a decade of avoiding it, it’s a revelation: This is IT. This is what I’ve been missing: Feelings.
My advice to you: Get the headaches, lose some sleep, have a melt down. Feel something.
Now, that is a good fucking carrot.