sober lifestyle

Indulgence

They’re mocktails; no worries.

My husband didn’t JUST support our entire household for the last four months of 2021; he ended up bringing in so much money for his company that they voted him Employee of the Year on his team.

His reward, from them, was an all-expenses-paid trip to Saint Martin later this spring.

I took him out for brunch.

Well, I guess technically, all I really did was agree to go out for brunch, instead of insisting we stay in and order Door Dash like we usually do. At 2 1/2 years sober, going to restaurants still makes me a little nervous, even when we purposely choose a place with an interesting mocktail selection to balance out the giant menu book filled with booze. But, to honor my hubby, I made the (unnecessary) reservation, and put on real pants and shoes, and even straightened my hair. 😳

He drove, though, and paid the check. He also sat in the booth for an hour, listening to me enthusiastically describe the intimate details of my fake client’s life from the mock counseling sessions we’re doing in Advanced Techniques class.

Was that breaking confidentiality?


I hear you, Kev. I mean, this seems like it might be shaping up to be a happy blog, which automatically means that what I write will come back to bite me in the ass sooner or later. My Wile E. Coyote instincts are tingling as I sit here feeling a little bit “high on life,” as my dad famously used to tell people back in the 60s when turning down their offers of hallucinogenic drugs.

Surely, allowing myself to indulge in the brash notion that the universe might be on my/our side will trigger cruel fate’s gravitational pull!

If I tell you how much ass Hubby is kicking in his job and what that means for our future, that’s like marching right up to the edge of a cliff.

If I explain how much better it’s been for me, working part-time from home, and how I’m making more money now than I did at the full-time job where I had to commute to an office five days a week, and how getting laid off last fall turned out to be a wonderful blessing — and not even in disguise — I just know I’m going to lose my balance.

If I tell you my back and hamstring injuries are under control, thanks to regular chiropractor visits over the past month, and I’m back to running 5 or 6 miles twice a week, which I LOVE, I fully expect to slip and start sliding downward.

If I reveal that I weighed myself today, and despite all those Jules Thin Crust and Osaka Sushi deliveries and nightly desserts during the time I was injured, the scale still sits right where it did before I tore my hammy…

Or if I divulge that I just checked my grades, and despite feeling overwhelmed and distracted for the early part of the semester, I’ve been getting A’s on all my grad school assignments so far…

I kid, but this “waiting for the other shoe to drop” shit really does seem kinda Looney Tunes, doesn’t it? If I can’t enjoy life when things are good, simply because I know they won’t always be good, what was the point in getting sober?

Oh, I’m not gonna let that damn alcohol steal my joy anymore! I can do that all by myself! 🤦🏼‍♀️

Instead of giving in to the fatalist anxiety from my drinking days and bracing for a gigantic 💥SPLAT!💥, how nice would it be to just stop, breathe deep and savor a moment in the sun?

Why shouldn’t I be able to stand out on my favorite running trail early on a Monday morning and survey how far I’ve come — a few years ago, I would’ve been hungover as 🤬 after drinking my way through a weekend, ESPECIALLY if we went out to eat on Sunday — without fear of a setback creeping into the picture?

Why can’t I gleefully devour a pizza or dessert without my brain “tsk-tsk”-ing at me the whole time?

Why does contentment feel like a guilty pleasure, instead of just, you know, being pleasurable? Why does peace and calm feel like overindulgent pampering?

What would happen if allowed myself to really feel that amazing natural high my dad was hinting at, when the universe sees fit to give me a lift?

My quote board is a Who’s Who of wise philosophers and great minds: Nietzsche, Freud, Pema Chödrön, James Baldwin, George RR Martin, Carol Danvers…

These are the confounding questions you must face when you’re an all-or-nothing personality who’s working hard to find your center and establish some balance.

Dating back to one particular social trauma in my teen years, I’ve always struggled hard to just R-E-L-A-X when things seem like they’re going well. I’ve been afraid of “the fall,” of being blindsided by some difficult event or situation that I wasn’t prepared to handle. The only “effective” way I ever found to cope with that fear was to drown it in alcohol or some other intoxicating distraction.


I’ve never written about this before, but if you’ll (ahem) indulge me, this seems like as good a time as ever to let ‘er rip…I was a senior in high school, and it was nearing the end of a highly successful volleyball season, and I thought everything was going just (gulp) perfectly, until one day, I found out my entire team had turned against me. They’d not only been talking shit behind my back, but they were basically passing around a petition to prevent me from winning that year’s MVP award. One of my teammates actually brought me the thing and plopped it down on my desk while I was sitting in homeroom, blissfully oblivious…maybe even, relaxed? 🤕

Accolades don’t bring the same sense of accomplishment when your entire sense of self is shaken to the core.

I was just being myself, and they all hated me. To this day, I still don’t understand why. And as detailed in previous posts, I’m a Highly Sensitive Person who feels deeply and internalizes everything, so while that incident might not seem very traumatic to you, it basically put me on high alert for the rest of my life. My guard is always up, breath held and head on perma-swivel, never EVER wanting to let the world rip the rug out from under me again.

When I discovered alcohol, it gave me a break from that never-ending hypervigilance. It was my protector, wrapping me up and holding me tight and saying, “Nothing can hurt you while I’m here.”

Who wouldn’t want to indulge in that warm, cozy, safe feeling whenever possible?

Of course, that feeling was artificial, and maybe all the good stuff that happens in sobriety is so unsettling because it’s SO REAL. In an effort to avoid pain by drinking to excess for 20+ years, I really avoided all feelings. Now, happiness is this gigantic, amazing, overwhelming, unfamiliar emotion that I never learned how to handle — and maybe, deep down, I don’t believe I deserve.

It’s my hope that these long, self-indulgent posts I’ve been writing over the past 31 months will help me down the road when I’m a real counselor. By analyzing and understanding my own internal processes and how they work for — and yes, often against — me, I can maybe help clients cut to the core of what’s really holding them back.

Believe it or not, I’m actually getting tested on that right now. I mean, without revealing too much about my first mock counseling client (she’s a fake character in a role play, but still…) she somehow turned out to be a high-achieving teenage athlete who derives her self-worth from said achievements. She’s super anxious about school, she’s grappling with two-faced “friends,” and she’s trying to reconcile what feels right to her inside with the contradictory messages and pressures she’s receiving from the world.

Does she sound familiar? Oh, Universe, I love you and your madcap sense of humor! 🙃 …Can you do me a favor and keep the big falling boulders, anvils and pianos at bay, at least for one more day?

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