My phone ran an update overnight, and when I reached for it, by irresistible force of habit, the second my eyes shot open (around 1 AM), it wanted me to jump through a few setup hoops before I could use it.
CREATE PASSCODE, it commanded.
No, thank you! — my mental reply.
Of course, there was no disobeying the iPhone, and I had to set a passcode before immediately heading to “Settings” to shut it off. The whole exercise took 90 seconds, but the significance of it remains stuck in my head.
I don’t have any reason to lock my phone. And that might be THE greatest gift of sobriety.
It’s difficult to explain, and I’m not going to get into specifics, but when you’ve lived the life of an addict and watched yourself spiral downward into dishonesty and depravity until you are so disgusted with the person you’ve become that you actually drink more to avoid dealing with that guilt and shame, and your spiral picks up steam, driving you lower, quicker…
I mean, yeah, after all that, it feels positively exhilarating to have nothing to hide.
I’ve always considered myself a person with strong core values, someone with a very clear idea of who I am and what I stand for. I’m good! I’m responsible! I’m reliable! I’m honest and genuine — so much so, in fact, that I’m a terrible liar!
None of those beliefs changed when I was drinking; I just got more and more detached from reality, and more and more comfortable in a state of denial, and it all happened so gradually that I wasn’t even fully aware just how bad things were getting. There was no sudden free fall to rock bottom. The descent took two decades, in total. The last, worst leg of the journey lasted a few years.
Lying, sneaking, hiding, pretending. …That’s not me!
Except it was.
Once I (thankfully) reached my point of reckoning — June 26, 2019 is a day I’ll never forget, despite the fact I spent most of it drunk — there was no hiding from the truth or pretending things were OK. There was no deluding myself: I had a dark side, and it had taken over. I had allowed my demons to run amok, had allowed alcohol to eat away at my core until it was almost rotten.
And suddenly, the fear of living sober was nothing, compared to the fear of continuing on that path of self-destruction. Change, or rot completely. The choice was that simple.
I’ve been living sober for 16 months, and there are moments when I wonder, what’s the upshot of my choice? Then, there are times when I can see it so clearly.
I saw it during a session with my therapist on Saturday, more than 12 hours before the early-morning iPhone incident. We were discussing the innate feelings of emptiness that have haunted me since childhood and ultimately drove me to addictive behaviors…you know, to fill the hole.
“Do you feel it now?” she asked, and I paused for what felt like 10 minutes.
Memories flashed through my head — vivid, visceral visions of the dark times, of where I’d been when I allowed addiction to rule my life. Then, I snapped back to the present and thought about the way I live today: an open book, albeit a pretty boring one, with an unfinished ending I’m actually excited to write for myself.
A responsible, accountable adult contributing positively to my marriage, working hard every day to atone for past mistakes and, when in doubt, to “do the next right thing.”
“Honestly?” I finally responded. “No.”
It’s not totally gone, that emptiness. They’re not completely destroyed, those demons. The delusional rock-bottom addict still lives in me. The urge to indulge her will probably never die.
Why deny it? This is who I am!
If I’m being honest, though, all I ever really wanted was to live an honest life. I don’t want to just see myself as a genuine person; I want to actually be one. Now that I’m on that path, it feels so right!
Trust me. 😉 I’ve spent time on both sides of the fence — feeding both wolves, if you will — and I can absolutely say for sure: I much prefer the boring, sober, open book with the unlocked phone. 📖📲
Ooo, speaking of which…I gotta go see what updates they made to the emojis! 👀😜