Yesterday was 6 months without an alcoholic drink. Hopefully this post will not be too long, boring, or rambling, but I feel this is a good time to elaborate on “What it’s like right now.”
Where to start…
The drinking (or not-drinking if you will) is going great. Last week brought another painful experience with my wife, one of those times I was dreading, that situation where I am afraid the “fuck it” attitude will kick in and I will go off the rails. One of those times where my need to solve everything right away could not be met and I would turn to something else for temporary relief. I needed to take action: go to meetings, call someone, pray, meditate, live with the pain, but I am happy to say that I did this and the desire to drink was not present. I feel like the obsession has been lifted from me. I say that not as a finality, one thing I have become convinced of is the idea that if I do not take action to maintain my condition then it will return with a vengeance. I am much more comfortable with the fact that I don’t drink, find it easier to be around others drinking, and also obsessing less about recovery. I am becoming more able to compartmentalize my recovery actions and not let this journey become the all-encompassing definition of who I am.
Nowadays, the majority of my recovery work revolves around finding “emotional sobriety.” When it comes to this, I cannot say enough good things about the AA program. Most people think of AA as a place where alcoholics go to stop drinking. I see it a bit differently. For me it has become a way for me to learn to live life so that I don’t have to drink. It took some time for me to understand that, and to see the difference in those 2 definitions. I believe I maybe could have treated the drinking “symptom” through willpower alone, but this is a better way for me – to treat the underlying problem to alleviate the symptom. For those of you skeptics, yes this is the “dry drunk” theory. A theory that I once considered complete horse-crap, but (for me) I now believe in 100%.
What has changed? My humility is at a place it has never been before. I went from a person who would get annoyed that my wife mentioned to her friend that we had an argument (shattering our illusion of perfection), to a person who can (if it comes up) tell someone that I am an alcoholic, going to therapy, and have some serious emotional issues. This feeds in to a new sense of honesty I have about myself, and try to live by. I am now more comfortable giving up control and asking for help from others and a Higher Power. Something I also used to think was BS and weakness. When my emotions get the best of me, even when it is completely the other person’s fault :), given some time I can recognize my fault in it and take responsibility. I feel a freedom that I have never had before. Having said all this, I am nowhere close to perfect. I still struggle with that initial emotional reaction, especially with my wife. When somebody says something I take offense to, it is still often a problem. That sensitivity, sense of fairness/unfairness kicks in and I have a hard time not letting it spin through my mind or even outwardly reacting. The progress is that I can now see it afterward, my part, my reaction, and I can take responsibility. In the past this was always invisible to me. I am hoping that in the second half of my first year, this new awareness will bring improvements to my initial reactions and that I can make improvements to my self-centered responses to others behavior.
People talk about being grateful that they are an alcoholic. If you are like I was and this makes no sense to you at all, let me just say that I truly believe that had I not designated myself as such, I would be exactly where I was 6 months ago – if not worse.
Thanks for listening.