52 Weeks

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Today, Saucy Sobriety celebrates its first birthday.

In some ways, it doesn’t seem like a very big deal. Because, well — it isn’t. About 30 of you come back week after week. And, on the days I find this fact discouraging, I remind myself that — it doesn’t matter.

Truthfully. That’s my thesis. The thing that ties everything else together. The bigger thread of my story: It doesn’t matter. — Do it anyway.

I’ve been shuffling back and forth between the “old me” and the “new me” recently. I’m annoyed with my own blurred lines. What’s left of me? What’s gone? What overlaps? What’s completely new?

I’m trying to sort it all out, but, I don’t know what’s worth keeping and what I should discard. I am a yard sale of emotions and feelings. — Pieces of me, just laying around without price tags. I want to get rid of the excess, but, I cling to the sentimental bits.

I peruse my 52 essays for evidence.

What is it about the one-year-mark? We always make these ludicrous assessments of ourselves. I mean, really, how should I fucking know where I stand? Truth be told, even on a good day, I’m still a disaster. I read through my old shit. My drama. All of it,Β  simultaneously spectacular and completely mundane.

There’s too much to reflect on. A crap-load of raw data that I refuse to analyze. Unfinished paragraphs and half-baked sentences. Still, I slow myself down enough to think about it in the same way I thought about getting sober: Set out to do something. Then, do it.

It doesn’t matter. — Until it does.

Saucy Sobriety is something I’ve felt sure about. Readers or none — it deserved my attention. This place mimics my sobriety. Because, it is my sobriety. — A mess. A carefully edited mess.

We must choose the things that feel important. We must find the places where we are able to do what we set out to do. Especially when it doesn’t matter.

Expectations. — Don’t have them. — Any of them.

Take the world as it comes. Word by word. Pain, misery, joy, love, elation, excitement. Just take it. It’s another essay.

Know — You will lose things. Important things. People. Love. You will lose everything. So, don’t expect wonderful. Expect ordinary. In the end, I truly believe that sincere humility is the greatest of all gifts.

Saucy Sobriety isn’t about the essays. It isn’t about what happened. It’s just the evidence. — I got to be here for it. I got to be present for all the little things that don’t matter at all. And, in being there, I made them matter. I sounded it out. I found my words.

Even this, my 52nd essay, will end. Tonight, the sun will set on my 928th day sober. And, today, I did not expect too much.

Somewhere, at the bottom of some glass, I found the heart of the thing. — When nothing else matters — You change. You make it matter. You assign yourself a new, impossible task. You let yourself be afraid. It doesn’t matter until we make it matter. Our movements, large and small, make no impact until we provide ourselves with the meaning behind them.

So, before I celebrate my actual birthday, I celebrate the birth of something else. Something that’s big and small. Something that’s mine — yours too. And, one year later, I’m still not entirely sure what I intended to say.

But, the what — doesn’t matter. That I was here for it — does.

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The Woman Behind The Curtain

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I make it to Oz.

I pull back the curtain. And, there she is — the Wizard.

It’s fucking weird. — Finding the truth. Getting back home. Realizing you’ve survived. Knowing you’ve found something worthwhile.

Behind my curtain? — An unexpected love. A great, new job. Stability. — Benchmarks of a life that, a few, short years ago, I never thought I’d be living. But, here I am. And instead of sitting back and drinking it all in like a nice, Jameson 18 year — I find myself peering down the yellow brick road again.

Because, if 3 clicks of my heels brought me here — where will 10 clicks take me? What’s left that still needs fixing? How can I be better? I need it. More happiness. More success. Brains. Heart. Courage! Just, more.

I make calculations. When will the next tornado hit? And, I wonder, is this how I’ll keep my life in Technicolor? By chasing storms?

It’s an obsession. The relentless quest to repair all my broken bits. — There’s no rest for the weary. The moment I reach a milestone — it’s back to the drawing board. Don’t you know?! If you’re happy, you’ve missed something. There are flying monkeys everywhere!

It’s tiring: Finding new flaws, failings, and apologies that need making. I’m all for self-discovery, but, I can’t have my life be an unending Mea Culpa. I don’t want to walk around with an oil can for the rest of my days.

Sometimes, you have to let go. Of everything. Even the things that, at one point, held you together. I’ve learned to be wary of the places where I’ve bled.

The cardinal rule of 12-Step: If you want to keep it, you’ve got to give it away. It’s part of the deal — returning the favor. And, I’ve learned that everyone gives back differently. We all come out from behind our own, different curtains. We all reveal something unique. Some of us talk. Some of us listen. Some of us write. Some of us usher our friends and family into safe places when things go south. Every path you can choose is a worthy one. So, you don’t need a map. You just have to see what’s right there in front of you. It’s not going to be perfect. But, it gets us home.

How many clicks of our heels will it take?

Depends on who’s behind the curtain.

 

 

I’ll Be Brief

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Confidence is the soul of brevity.

So, don’t think too much. Get to the heart of the matter. I can tell you — that’s where the best stuff lives.

Yesterday, I started my new job. And, with all the hubbub leading up to the commencement of my new routine, I hadn’t given much thought to this week’s Saucy Sobriety essay. If we’re being honest, I didn’t want to write at all. I’m tired. And, I’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks — a nervous, emotional wreck. I sat at my laptop, blank screen glowing, debating whether or not to scrap the whole thing entirely. After all, what’s consistency worth without heart?

But, that’s the thing. — There is heart. — Shit-tons of heart. More heart than there’s ever been before.

So, I thought about it. Brevity. What can I really say without saying much at all?

I thought about the past few months. How every challenge, good and bad, has revolved around getting from point A to point B — as quickly as possible. Work. Relationships. Change. Resolution. Sometimes keeping it short and sweet seems like the best approach. But, sometimes, it feels like it’s not enough.

Before my first day back to work, I lay in bed, sleepless. My boyfriend, in an attempt to quiet my crazy-brain, put it to me like this: There’s reality, and then, there are all the stories we tell ourselves about that reality. That’s the shit we have to wade through — all that crap we tell ourselves. The reality part though — it’s really short, straight forward, and simple.

So, cut to the chase. What is the reality?

Well, walking through the door of my new job, I realized it wasn’t just the people and the space that were new and unfamiliar — it was me, too. With all these simple, little changes — it would appear that I’m an entirely new person. Brevity has led me to an epic revolution. And, I suddenly find that, maybe, it was worth it after all — re-writing all those short, little snippets of my story.

So, yesterday, as my hand shook its way around a room full of strangers, I kept my introductions brief.

Because, the reality is, all those people, they don’t know me yet. But, for the first time in my life — I do.

And, it’s big.

 

 

 

 

Start Here.

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Don’t think. Just start.

While scrolling down my Facebook feed recently, I saw a post from an old pub acquaintance. He announced that he’s been sober for a year now. Back when I first got clean, he’d sent me a message asking me how I did it. I replied: “I have no fuckin’ idea — Just start. That’s all I did. I just started.” I never heard from him again.

It’s a tall order. — Just waking up one day and deciding to do something that’s hard. It takes guile and gumption. And, it takes a certain level of positivity — which is perhaps the most difficult thing for any addict/alkie to cultivate.

Greeting the day warmly has taken lots of practice. I’ve never once woken up and thought to myself:Β “The world is my oyster!” I was an awkward, chubby kid and I remain an awkward, not-so-chubby adult. Despite my best efforts, those feelings of childhood inadequacy still follow me around like a stray cat. For much of my adult life, I’ve written things off. I learned, a long time ago, I might as well give up before starting, because, really — what’s the point?

Even after getting sober, I still wasted time and effort, highlighting my own failings. It’s hard to find the good in things when you’ve become accustomed to looking for the crap. And, after years of defeat, I considered throwing in the towel, but, even though it took me until the 11th hour to lace up my bootstraps — I did.

Fast forward a few years and I’m finishing up my last week of work at my current job before transitioning to an exciting, new one. I still have to remind myself that starting over is a good thing. But, sober or not — experience or none — change is hard.

The longer I’m off the sauce, the more IΒ see how preparing for the worst all those years has informed my world view. It’s halted my progress and it’s put the kibosh on some of my dreams. While I was looking for all the potential missteps and failures I might encounter, I missed all the things at which I absolutely kick-ass. And, as it happens, there are quite a few of those. Back then, as an active addict, I was sure that all that could go wrong — would go wrong. So, I never started anything. I held tight and waited for change.

Not this time around.

I printed out the manual for my new job and I sat on my couch, geeking out, as I poured over forms and procedures. I caught myself thinking — “Oh shit. This is gonna be good.” I forgot — getting genuinely excited is a crazy high. So, I allow myself these positive thoughts like an evening nightcap, even if my mind is still at work, pulling me toward the rabbit-hole of self-doubt. I have to remember: We can earn our place in the sun, but, to stay there, we have to stop searching for the dark places.

Sometimes, a retrospective is in order. I try to remember that I arrived at my current work position, just shy of nine months sober, fresh out of rehab. A darkness was draped over my shoulders for months. I felt like a failure. But, I kept telling myself: This is it. You have to start over. This is what it takes. Just start here.

Yes. Start here. Even if the odds are stacked against you. If nothing else — do it for the buzz. There is something incredibly intoxicating about it — starting over. There is something wild and reckless about feeling your fear and choosing to move forward anyway.

After all, things do change. One day sober can turn into a year. And, a lousy job can turn into a bitchin’ career.

So, just start. That’s all I did. I just started. But, really, I have no fuckin’ idea.