sober lifestyle


Just OK is completely OK.

A personal spin on the commercial slogan (needed Google to identify it as AT&T) spontaneously popped into my head on Saturday as I lounged on our newly renovated deck that’s somehow 10 degrees warmer than the rest of the world and is a serene and wonderful place, whether conditions are sunny or overcast, or whether I’m feeling ambivalent or disgusted with my current state of being (those are my two primary mindsets, and they flip-flop by the hour 🤷🏼‍♀️). I have always loved sitting back in my zero gravity chair and listening to podcasts and audiobooks — and writing run-on sentences — while staring out at the trees in my beautiful neighborhood, and the cool thing is that I now do that with a Citizens Bank Park souvenir cup filled with Diet Sunkist, not Jose Cuervo, and seltzer.

There was a time I never imagined I’d be able to do that.

But back to that slogan. I considered whether it would make a good one-year-sober tattoo, and where I’d put it. Has my pain tolerance increased since I quit drinking? Because the left inner forearm seems like an acceptable spot. Would it say those words, exactly? “This is OK” seems more like a message you’d send yourself when perfectionism starts plaguing you and your addict brain wants to run you off the rails. Or maybe “You are OK.” You wouldn’t say “you’re fine.” Saying things are “fine” means they’re not; that’s universally understood.

…And then, I think, I should stick with the original plan. A tattoo of a tree.

Have you ever looked at a tree and started picking apart its imperfections? Have you ever thought, “yeah, that’s an amazing and beautiful living thing growing free in the wild, but…it’s asymmetrical,” or “it’s too full” or “not full enough” or “it has a few brown leaves/dead needles” or “the way it moves with the breeze is awkward and out of rhythm”?

Of course not. Trees are an act of God, just doing their thing. And I love all trees. Even broken ones with gnarled bark or whose branches have torn free and are blocking my path.

And yet, I do all that destructive shit with my body. I do it every day. Every damn day since I was 19 years old and decided an eating disorder would make my existence important and valuable to other people. Every day of my life, really, since I unwittingly accepted “perfection or bust” as my personal credo.

Like drinking, which I successfully gave up 10 months ago, I have come to believe that I not only HAVE to rid my life of the perfection drug, but that I CAN.

I can sit here with that flawed face (I actually took that selfie immediately before starting to write) and this imperfect body and say, “OK!” with no buts. No addendums. When it comes to this living being and her place in the universe, I decide — I do — what OK is. And I decide whether more than OK is required. Sometimes, I might decide that it is, and then I must decide to change, to do things a little differently.

Until then, why waste any more f*cking time from this precious life — this new sober life I’ve just begun — with bullshit negativity? My brand of perfectionism has, for far too long, equated to nothing more than inventing problems. Inviting drama. Creating obstacles.

It’s time for a new slogan. A new message.

Recovery tests your pain tolerance in many ways, because recovery is about dealing with the world and other people and things you cannot control, in a healthy and productive way. When you realize YOU are unnecessarily adding to your own pain — and holy shit, it took me a long time to realize that — and you have, until now, been a very unreliable narrator for your own inner story…

Aw, man, you guys. I think I just felt my first real sober high.

Or maybe I’m just responding to this amazing infusion of Vitamin D and the intoxicating smell of my neighbor barbecuing. Either way, it’s OK. I came by this feeling naturally.

Two more months until I can get serious about my “birthday” tattoo. I’ll file this snapshot away for future inspiration.

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