It still catches me off guard when I hear myself saying the words out loud. — “I don’t drink anymore.”
It’s not the kind of thing you can say in passing. And this week, I found myself telling my “How I Got Sober Story,” twice. Friends and acquaintances find out that you’re sober and, immediately, they want to know more. How? and When? and Why? and Whyyyyyy? Sobriety is something that almost always requires an explanation. And, I do it. I explain. Not because I feel like an explanation is owed but because, to some, sobriety is this unthinkable, incomprehensible, impossibility. And, I feel obligated to dispel that notion.
Sometimes I forget I’m sober. I forget, I am the odd man out. And, maybe that’s the big-time-bonus after a long stretch of sobriety: Forgetting. — Forgetting everything.
While I played my tale of woe on repeat this week, for the first time, I felt something new. An astranged feeling — a disconnect. The cousin of insincerity, if you will. As the words left my mouth, I had to remind myself that those things that happened did, in fact, happen to me. I hardly recognize the woman in my own story. I don’t know how I ever knew her. It’s almost as if I couldn’t know her. — The small world where she used to live. The poor choices and the meager portions she allowed herself.
I think part of this revelation is, I’m no longer going to 12-Step meetings with regularity. So, I’ve been distanced from that narrative. A lot of rehashing goes on there. I’ve taken myself off the loop. And, after taking this big step back, I’m happy about deciding against wading into the murky lake that I once splashed around in with masochistic delight. My sorrow, these days, is watered by a different well. And, until this past week, I hadn’t taken the time to notice, much less appreciate, the big changes I’ve made.
I’m focused on my endgame. I forget to look around. This is why all those 12-Steppers were encouraging me to be consistent about meeting attendance. I need to be reminded. I need to remind others. And, on some level, that’s true. But, like most healthy relationships, breathing room is always a good idea. Truth be told, I think the space I’ve put between myself, my disease, and all that mea culpa-ing I was doing has allowed for this recent, rewarding reveal. I’m starting to discover that if I stop talking about being a mess. — I stop actually being a mess.
We all could stand to forget a thing or two. Our messes included. Go on, forget it! Forget the definitions we so rigidly create. Forget the people we hold accountable for so much of our pain. Forget the crap that still hurts.
Of course, we can’t forget everything. If we did, we couldn’t appreciate our big changes. We’d devalue our endgames. But, forgetting isn’t letting go. And, forgetting isn’t forever. — There’s always room for remembering. Later. We can put the pain aside and return to it later, with reverence. I promise. If we don’t make room for the new, good things, then the other things, sometimes the big things, slip through our fingers — not the least of which is time.
My sober story needs to be more present. Which, when I think about it, was always my goal. It’s important to remember how I got here, but, it’s also important to put away the things that don’t serve me anymore. It’s no longer about how I couldn’t hack it back then. It’s about now. It’s about what’s working.
It’s possible to tell your own story without throwing knives. It’s OK to make revisions. As the writer of your life, it’s a kindness that’s deserved. — Earned.
Next time I tell my “How I Got Sober Story,” it will be new and improved, rooted in the now. I’ve made some detailed mental notes. The first of which is: Just remember to forget — while the forgettin’s good.