I went to bed last night after learning that People Magazine had just named me the world’s most gloomy and self-deprecating asshole.
“What’s wrong?” the boyfriend asked.
“Nothing,” I snapped as Hell’s bells chimed and echoed in my imagined version of reality.
I was now in the third awful day of severe PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome) symptoms and I was beginning to worry that the feelings of doom, hopelessness, anxiety, and worthlessness, would never lift. Nothing I did seemed to work. I drank the fuck out of my nighttime tea, emptying the mug to the very last drop, and then proceeded to wring out the teabag into my mouth like some cracked out version of Judi Dench. I took a hot shower and had a stern talk with myself and exfoliated the shit out of my face rubbing way harder than I was supposed to. I drew smiley faces in the steamed mirrors when I was done and then erased them violently because SMILES ARE STUPID and EVERYTHING SUCKS and FUCKSHITGODDAMNITCOCKSUCKER. I did NOT get sober for this, you guys! I got sober so I could ride unicorns through fields of diamonds and puppies. I got sober to become one of those weirdos who likes to put on chunky shoes, climb giant mountains, and eat a KIND bar at the summit as I weep tears of joy and take in the view of a vast sober playground that is planet Earth. I got sober to be so outwardly happy that just glancing at me would make people throw up and slap their mother. But obviously that wasn’t going to happen so, fuck it, I’m going to bed. And I did.
Fast forward to 7AM this morning.
I opened my eyes and the sun was shining through the blinds that I had left open the night before. The beams of light seemed joyous and excited just to be beams of light. The birds outside were chirping per the usual but their song sounded cheerful today. Usually I’m ready to kill the birds because they are so annoying but today their music was perfectly soothing and not overly obnoxious or repetitive. My puppy stared up at me from his bed, eager to join me on mine for our morning cuddle. I sat him on my chest and he licked my face and everything felt perfect. So very perfect. Then my closet doors swung open revealing a 30 person gospel choir and they began to sing This Little Light of Mine as five very fit spandex clad interpretive dancers flew through my bedroom door and proceeded to dance with such happiness that I just had to get up and join them. They guided me down the hallway and I climbed into the shower as they tended to my every need and washed my hair, clipped my nails, brushed my teeth, plucked my eyebrows, and pampered me like a king. While still singing, they dressed me, handed me a cup of coffee, and ushered me out the door to face my lovely day. I skipped down the street whistling as animated blue birds pursued me and flew around my head chirping happily. Today was going to be a good day.
While on the train, I checked my sober app even though I knew what it was going to say.
30 DAYS SOBER!
Putting 30 days together seemed impossible a month ago. Putting 30 days together seemed impossible LAST NIGHT when I was already on day 29 and feeling miserable. But it is possible and it does happen and eventually the sun begins to shine again and the pain begins to lessen a bit and all of your efforts become worth it. I went from despair to celebration in a span of 15 hours because I held on. I waited. I went THROUGH it. And even though it seemed like I would never emerge out the other side, I did. There will still be additional dark patches to travel through (this is life) but if I don’t drink, everything gets better.
I’ve been getting a lot of traffic on this blog and it’s not something I expected. People I don’t even know have commented and sent me messages about their own struggles and they are seemingly seeking advice. I feel for every single one of them and know how awful this process is. And I also have gotten a glimpse at how wonderful it can be. While I obviously don’t know enough to tell you how this all works, I’ll tell you what I’ve found to be true for me thus far:
- Each time I get through something difficult without taking a drink, the resistance I face seems to lessen in intensity. I liken it to lifting weights? The pain and fear I feel when I refuse to feed the beast makes the sober muscle stronger and it DOES become less difficult to not pick up the bottle. That pain and fear is “the burn” and my muscles do recover and become stronger.
- Surrounding myself with recovery makes me feel less alone and more equipped. I listen to The Bubble Hour and other podcasts on the way to work, on the way home from work, while laying in bed, etc. When I’m not listening to those and I have free time at work or after work, I am connecting with actual human people through The Booze Free Brigade (info can be found on thebubblehour.com) and other sources. I am reaching out and building community. Slowly. But I’m taking the steps.
- When I want to drink, I walk myself through the process in my mind. I go to the liquor store, I go home, I drink all night and imagine the stupid things I will do. I imagine the middle of the night wake up and panic. I imagine the 3-4 hours of fitful anxiety and not being able to sleep. I imagine the misery I will face all day as a result. THEN I think about a day like this morning when I woke up feeling amazing. And I choose the amazing day over the miserable day. Easier said than done. But you can choose the better day if you want to.
- LAUGH. You need to laugh. Listen to your favorite comedian, watch funny films, come read my blog if you think it’s funny. Find a way to smile and have fun and laugh. It makes everything so much easier.
As a very serendipitously planned treat for my 30 days, I am attending a Lady Gaga concert tonight at Madison Square Garden! Us gay guys have to do a certain number of stereotypically gay things each year if we want to keep our homosexual card. I’m already getting a lot of flack from the gay mafia about my beard and masculine sounding voice so I felt the need to comply and go do some queer dancing tonight. I am scared shitless because I’ll be sober. But I’m going with someone else who is staying sober and I’m looking forward to having some stories to tell ya’ll tomorrow!
In the meantime, stay strong! We can totally do this!