If you’re anything like me (and you are like me because I’m talking to me), you may have had a very clear and defined image of what sobriety would be like. Or maybe you (now I’m talking to YOU, not me) aren’t sober yet but are doing a lot of thinking about what that might be like. The image alternates randomly between idealized visions of serenity and terrifying visages of discomfort, depression, boredom, and a life that wouldn’t be fun anymore. The negative ideas won out during that first month. In fact, there were times where things seemed so bleak and unmanageable that you were certain you were either going crazy or that you would remain miserable forever. It’s totally understandable why the thought of caving and having a drink entered your mind on occasion. And while not ideal, it would have been totally understandable if you would have caved. And it explains why you had 6 years of Day 1’s before you finally had had enough. Because this shit is hard. But you didn’t cave this time. And it has served you well.
You remember that first week? You were a filthy disgusting hot mess. In a cute way. And by cute, I mean gross. But precious. And by precious, I mean nasty. And you had the SILLIEST of questions.
Q: How will I ever walk onto an airplane again without having a cocktail first?
A: With your feet, bitch. Shoot.
Q: How will I ever talk to people at an event without being drunk?
A: Use the hole where you put the food, okay? It also makes noises.
Q: What about when I go to Paris? How will I go to Paris and not drink?
A: Girl, please. You can’t afford Paris.
It was a scary time for you and everything felt monumentally challenging and terrifying. Going to the grocery store during that first week was just about as difficult as painting your fingernails while sitting inside of a bouncy castle with a bunch of six year olds cracked out on birthday cake and their own boogers. Remember when you couldn’t decide what to make for dinner so you grabbed that old lady in a panic to get her opinion? OMG CHICKEN OR FISH?! CHICKEN OR FISH, AGNES?!?!? and it just became too much so you ran out of the store flailing your arms like a Muppet on the verge of tears and just went home and ordered Chinese food instead? That was a really good move because Chinese food is delicious and ain’t nobody got the time to be crying at the butcher counter. That was you taking care of YOU. And it’s what you needed. And you didn’t drink that night so victory was yours.
Remember when you sat at home alone feeling weird because you had declined an invite? You were in your bed staring at the wall, humming Joni Mitchell’s A Case of You. You were mourning your old friend Absolut (Drink Responsibly). You were certain that the entire world was living an amazing life and that their nights would be profoundly changed by the deep connections they made over 5-20 adult beverages. Sure, they might throw up. But in that chunky vomit was FUN, MEMORIES (maybe), and JOY. Remember feeling shitty as you fell asleep early only to wake up feeling fantastic while reading Facebook posts from people cursing their hangovers from the night before and asking if anyone knew who took their cellphone and panties? You didn’t feel so shitty anymore, did you?
Remember having a really bad morning one Sunday but then your mood began to lift in the afternoon? And then you walked past those really drunk girls outside of the Irish pub down the street at 3PM and one of them didn’t know her skirt was riding up really far and you could almost see her vagina? But you didn’t say anything because how the fuck are you supposed to say MA’AM YOUR VAGINA IS ALMOST OUT to a perfect stranger? And her friend lit the wrong side of the cigarette and started coughing and choking as borderline-vagina girl laughed. And you thought, I’M SOBER. I FEEL REALLY GOOD. Things are starting to change.
Remember when you were suddenly the happiest person in the world a few days ago? You were shitting rainbow colored poop, there was a bounce in your step, and glitter followed you wherever you went and accentuated just how lovely you felt. And glitter is REALLY annoying but you were so happy that you didn’t care. You didn’t even care when you found it in your ass crack that evening in the shower because Y.O.L.O. Because everything was perfect. Sobriety is amazing. I can do anything! I can change the world! I can become the next RuPaul even though I’m white and don’t know how to do drag makeup! Remember when that all came crashing down and you were crying the next day feeling as if it had all been a dream and sanity had been ripped from your arms? Then a few days later you had a few more good days. Then a bad one. Then another good.
It’s easy for you to become discouraged and disillusioned when things aren’t 100% incredible. That’s why you drank to begin with, right? But it’s becoming more and more evident to you that life isn’t about amazing days every single day. Sobriety isn’t about constant and extreme joy. It’s about honesty and experiencing truth. Sobriety is about living, loving, and learning. You can live, love, and learn while happy. And you can live, love, and learn while sad. And you WILL do both. But living, loving, and learning are gifts to be grateful for and they can only be experienced if I’m… sorry… if you’re… not a drunk hot mess.
You didn’t think this would get easier. But it has. In the darkest hours on Day 1, Day 2… Day Who Knows… You kept asking WHEN WILL I BE OKAY? Well, guess what? You are okay. In fact, you’re better than okay. You’re back. Please stay.
And if you aren’t here yet, please come. The water is lovely.