sober lifestyle


Everything has felt incredibly heavy over the past few weeks: my entire body, the summer air, the constant drag of depression, the side effects of my second COVID shot (before you even ask: Pfizer), the looming responsibilities of attending — and paying for — grad school while working full time…

Lugging all that shit very slowly up a hill at Tyler State Park at 5AM on a Wednesday — less than 10 minutes in, my drenched clothes were like sandbags weighing me down even more — I started to crack.

It began as a guttural groan, like a mortally wounded animal crawling off to die, and crescendoed into a primal scream.



Of course, the sane part of me knows that verbally abusing oneself out loud in a public park not only doesn’t provide the satisfying release one seeks from abject misery, but it also drains additional energy from an already sputtering engine. Still, I yelled my putdowns and profanities, searing rage flying off me with every splash of sweat as I lumbered along my typical 30-minute jogging route.

I guess the key takeaway from this charming anecdote is that I kept going. I did not stop “running,” or give up and go home early, or throw myself into Neshaminy Creek hoping to float away forever — don’t think I haven’t contemplated that — and when my disgusting, dripping slab of meat finally burst back through the door into the air-conditioned entryway, creating an instant puddle on the wood floor, I felt a little better.

And that, friends, perfectly sums up my entire second year of sobriety. Well, the first 359 days of it. I still have one week to go. 😬

The plan is to celebrate my July 7 anniversary with family in Chicago, at the tail end of our traditional midsummer vacation.

Whew, you guys! A vacation is exactly what I need right now! Year Two has been brutal. Much harder than Year One. As illustrated above in stark relief, it’s been a messy struggle, full of negativity and really uncomfortable, low moments that I didn’t always handle with grace — or anything close to it.

But, somehow, I managed to push through and emerge, still pointed in the right direction.

(“Somehow” = I have a support system that’s nothing short of stupendous. Check out the book my aunt sent me, just because…⬇️)

Tough, indeed. You’d expect the second year in recovery to be smoother sailing — maybe that’s my biggest problem: expectations — but instead, it was a slog through soupy humidity that drove me more than a little crazy, looking somewhere, anywhere, for relief. And even though my mind crept back to the alcoholic abyss more times than I’d like to admit — “Is there a way I could get away with drinking again, where no one would know?” the addiction demons ask with villainous guile — my body resisted the urge to follow.

I did not dive back toward my rock-bottom depths, or float away on a current of booze, never to be heard from again. Even though my progress might have been an excruciatingly slow crawl, I still put one foot in front of the other and maintained some forward momentum.

(Time for a gratuitous pic of my two-year anniversary present: custom Nike running shoes. Does it look like a paint store vomited on my feet? Good! My design vision has come to life!)

I think you get the point, and I can stop beating the dead jogging analogy and let this post rest in peace. I’ll close by sharing something I heard in my weekly recovery meeting that really touched my heart.

“If I’m doing the best I can today, that’s all God asks of me.”

As long as I stay sober, “the best I can” gets a tiny bit better every day. I mean, if I was drinking, would I even be out there trying to run hills at Tyler State Park before sunrise? Would I even have an air-conditioned home to come back to and defile with my sweat? Would I even be gainfully employed and enrolled in a psychology program that’s going to change the entire course of my life?

I might not be cruising into this latest recovery milestone, but with gratitude lightening my heart and a fantastic support system to help me carry life’s load, I feel like my momentum is truly unstoppable.

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