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: “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 I 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.