I still can't get over the fact that things aren't better than they were before, and at least before, I didn't have to feel it.
This is the last thing I wrote on Live Journal a little over six months ago. The flaw in this statement’s logic is that it doesn’t take into consideration the issue of progression.
I’d heard a thousand times that alcoholism is a progressive disease. I never really took the time to think about what that meant because I’d assumed that I had this thing licked. I was cured. I didn’t have to consider what would happen if I drank again because I was, simply, never going to drink again. And if I did – God forbid – drink again, then I’d surely see the error of my ways and immediately return to working a stellar recovery program.
When I wrote my last post, I had this thought in my head that my sober life sucked, and if I started using again, I wouldn’t have to feel any of the anxiety and sense of incompetency I was experiencing. As far as that whole “progressive” thing goes, I figured that just meant that I’d build up a greater tolerance and have to drink more. No big deal.
So a few hours after I wrote that entry, I relapsed. I drank three big glasses of vodka and Red Bull. And it was fucking incredible
. It was amazing. It was the best I’d felt in a long time. Immediately, all the reasons I’d drank like a fiend for three years came back to me. I had no anxiety. I had no fear. That hole in my gut was filled. I felt happy and social and perfectly content in my skin. I felt smart and witty and creative. I was invincible. I could accomplish anything I wanted, and it was only a matter of time before all my hopes and dreams would come true. With alcohol in my system again, I’d write the greatest story, and then I’d win that Pulitzer or Academy Award or whatever. At long last, I could once again breathe and dream and do. I could be. I’d go on Oprah and David Letterman, and everyone would love me, and I’d have riches beyond my wildest dreams, and everything would be the way it was supposed to be. Finally, I was me
Five and a half months later, after losing all my friends, destroying my reputation at work, failing in numerous romantic endeavors, attempting suicide five times, being committed to a psychiatric hospital, narrowly escaping abduction and rape after I’d impulsively hopped on a plane to South Florida, and being told by my parents to find somewhere else to live because they didn’t want to see me again, I was drinking shots of Captain Morgan while listening to a recording of my favorite Alcoholics Anonymous speaker, Earl H of Studio City, giving a workshop on the Twelve Steps. I think that says it all right there – that despite living in an endless hell, despite wanting to hear the hope of a sober life, despite listening to the things I had to do to be happy and joyous and free, I still had to drink. And drinking had ceased to be fun. I was miserable when I drank. I was a wreck. I created chaos and filled my family with fear. More often than not, drinking led me to cutting or swallowing lethal dosages of pills (being forced to vomit all night long isn’t fun). When I wasn’t drinking, my whole body ached, and when I was drinking, my heart ached. I hated everyone and everything.
I wasn’t afraid that I would die; I was afraid that I wouldn’t.
I guess that’s the progression they were talking about.
Today, I am three weeks sober. I don’t have a post for you about the wonderful things I’ve learned since my last drink, or my hopes and dreams for the future, or a sense of limitless possibility just beyond the horizon. I don’t have that post for you because I’ve got none of those things. The last time I got sober, God allowed me to feel joy and hope and potential so that I’d want to stay sober. My ego grabbed hold and demanded that I feel nothing but happiness, never again experience discomfort and disappointment, and when it became clear that this isn’t how life or recovery work, I decided to quit the game. My ego has always been my downfall. This time around, God isn’t giving me any illusions. He’s saying, “You know what, you are
a miserable person, and your life does
suck, and if you don’t like it, then you’re
going to have to do some things to change it.” God’s on my team, but He’s not going to hold my hand and gently walk me through this. That approach obviously didn’t work.
Alcohol has beaten me into a state of reasonableness, which is to say that I got my ass kicked so thoroughly that I give up
. It’s become clear to me that I have no idea how to live or think or feel in manner that would suggest sanity, so I don’t get to make the decisions anymore. When my previous sponsor told me to do something, I thought it was stupid, so I didn’t do it. Now when my new sponsor tells me to do something, I think it’s stupid, but I do it anyway. ‘Cause I obviously don’t know what works. Before, God would tell me, “Don’t be a whore,” but I’d think that surely I could make my own rules. Now when God calls me to do things – like looking at getting involved in ministry (what?!) – I say, “I think You’re crazy and I’m totally wrong for this, but it’s Your call.”
I’m not for a second going to say that this is easy because it’s not. I’m not going to say that I like it because I don’t. I’m a very stubborn and self-involved person, so I struggle every minute with trusting other people to make my decisions. Most of the time, I fail. Most of the time, I walk around feeling bitter and irritable. And, of course, when I feel that way, it’s a red flag that I’m trying to control things again. I can then choose to let go, or I can choose to stay pissed off. More often than not, I choose to stay pissed off. But maybe one of these days, I’ll figure out that it’s easier the other way.
I’m not happy to be sober, but I’m happy to not be drinking. Or maybe I’m not happy to not be drinking, but I’m happy to be sober. I don’t know. One of the two. I’d like to drink. I’d like to not feel discomfort. I’d like to feel those things that alcohol used to make me feel. But somewhere along the line, drinking stopped being fun and started being the opposite, and it took a lot of hard hits for me to finally figure out that it’s never going to go back to being fun. Believe me, every time I drank, I thought that maybe this time it would be fun again. It never was. And once you get to that point, there’s no turning back. So, you know, I’m happy I’m not drinking because if I were drinking, I’d be feeling a lot worse than I do right now.
Nobody said it was going to be rainbows and glitter, but that doesn’t mean it has to be gray clouds and thorns. Or whatever. I just come up with random bullshit sayings to try to sound clever and existential and cool. And that’s not exactly the way I wanted to end this post, but that’s the ending I’m going with.[ETA]
: I'm grateful I've got enough humility now to not praise myself for being God's gift to recovery. Was I a fucking douchebag or WHAT?