Turns out, the original title I had in mind for this post wasn’t original; the above excerpt is from one of my earliest entries in this sober saga, which is now, officially, 30 MONTHS long.
I don’t repeat headlines, but everything else in my life is one big rigid, predictable routine. From yoga and brisk walks in the early morning to fruit smoothies and honey vanilla chamomile tea in the late afternoon, to a few Tootsie pops and melatonin gummies before bed at sunset, every creature comfort a creature of habit could ask for is part of my daily procedure.
I won’t bore you with the details of my full meal plan, but trust me: It’s the same. Every. Day.
What can I say? I’m a highly sensitive girl, and giving up alcohol in some of the most topsy turvy times our society has ever seen, while going through a job transition and going back to school, is not something I’m equipped to handle completely naked. That is, without some kind of security blanket.
The most important thing: After 2 1/2 years of “one-day-at-a-time”-ing it, over and over again, not drinking has become as much of a ritual as drinking once was.
Halle-f*cking-lujah for the hard death of old habits…and the steadfast adherence to new ones! 🥳
Like I said, I still cling to the safety of sameness, the way I did in my addiction. Choosing courage over comfort is something I’ll always have to work on. But I’ll take a highly structured life in recovery over the vicious cycle of alcoholism any damn day.
I mean, look! 👀 I now wake up to balloons and flowers, as opposed to hangovers and panic attacks!
My husband surprised me by stopping at the party shop on the way to his weekly Al-Anon meeting and bringing home…well, a party. I mean, maybe it wasn’t that surprising; celebrating every milestone, big and small, is another regular habit in our house.
Do we celebrate too much? Judging by the occasional snarky responses to my back-patting social media posts, some folks seem to think so. 🤷🏼♀️ All I can say is, you get through the day your way, and I’ll get through mine!
Actively tackling an addiction on top of living through a pandemic and dealing with unemployment while going back to school hasn’t been…you know, cake. Getting laid off last fall and going through a shitshow of a job search (is there any other kind of job search?) added an additional level of discomfort to my recovery journey, and any excuse to stop slogging along in the mud for a moment and smell some roses, I will gladly take!
I’m sure you, dear reader, can understand. We’ve all got some kind of mess to muddle through. Here…take a whiff!
Speaking of small victories…I added work back into my schedule this week, and while it isn’t my dream job by any stretch, I was able to negotiate a part-time position that leaves room for my grad school studies. I have one more week to get the lay of that land before the second semester starts Jan. 18 and there’s yet another groove to settle into.
Thinking about all the unknowns ahead — the “mysteries in the plot” that I wrote about at 30 days sober, back in 2019 — can be really overwhelming for a highly sensitive soul like me. So, I take comfort in a step-by-step, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other regimen that helps me digest all of life’s many stimuli in bite-sized pieces. It might lead to a very rigid existence and seemingly lackluster lifestyle, but for now, it’s how I keep my triggers in check. Come to think of it, it’s how I’ve handled intense emotions throughout my life.
It’s like when I was a pitcher in softball, and if I allowed my focus to veer away from the one pitch I had to make in one particular moment, I would quickly spin off mentally and lose my composure.
In case you’re wondering, yes, I did throw tiny little celebrations every single time I made that one pitch perfectly. Maybe my sports background conditioned me for success in recovery…you think? 🤔
Anyway, if you’re offended by my constant self-congratulations over sober successes, DO NOT read this blog or visit any of my social channels next month. I’ve officially scheduled my commemorative two-year-sober tattoo for Feb. 5, and compared to the tiny “W” flag on my back and subtle weirwood tree on my right arm, it’s a real doozy. I’ve been planning it for over a year, and I’m gonna flaunt the shit out of it once it’s done.
Sneak preview: The tatt is a nod to the old Native American parable of the two wolves. You know… “Which one wins? The one you feed”?
Recovery, for me, has boiled down to that simple concept: Feeding the good wolf a steady diet of yoga sessions and nature walks and books and podcasts and early bedtimes — and yes, the occasional giant balloon bouquet and braggy tweet — and practicing new habits that don’t involve alcohol, over and over, until the whole routine becomes old hat.
Our routine is repetitive and might bore most people to tears. But with it, so far, the right wolf is winning the fight. 🐺💪🏻