sober lifestyle

Appearance

Another lovely day at the unemployment office.

I’d just snapped the above picture and punched the button in the side of my earbuds to silence the music, thinking, “I just want to listen to nature,” when a familiar voice filled the momentary void.

“Jen, is that you? Girl, you’re looking skinny!”

There it was: The sweet yet shattering sound of my sickness. I know it so well.

Turns out the speaker was an old friend from two gym memberships ago. I hadn’t seen her smiling face in years, and she was pausing her run to pay me a compliment.

It’s not her fault I still struggle to accept one.

Let me just be clear from the jump: This post isn’t about blaming others for my own deep-seated issues.

It’s actually about progress in the weakest part of my recovery “game.” It’s also about messages — the ones we send others, and the ones we tell ourselves. It’s about stopping that cycle of skewed interpretations, where we assign meaning to what someone else says based on our fear, insecurity and need for external validation, instead of our own unshakable personal truth.

I guess, then, it’s really about shaking out what’s true.

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sober lifestyle

Renunciation

So we could also call shenpa ‘The Urge’ — the urge to smoke that cigarette, to overeat, to have another drink, to indulge our addiction, whatever it is. Sometimes, shenpa is so strong that we’re willing to die getting this short-term symptom relief. The momentum behind the urge is so strong that we never pull out of the habitual pattern of turning to poison for comfort.”

— Pema Chödrön

The Urge is strong with this one. It has been all week. I could feel it building, or more like steadily pulsing in the center of my chest, and I described it to my therapist as feeling like I was plugged in to the Tesseract…you know, from the Marvel Universe?

She knew. Thank goodness. Nothing more awkward than when a pop culture reference falls flat. 😉

It’s an apt analogy, too: an indefatigable, incredibly powerful energy source that will not stay frozen or buried and can reawaken at any time and threaten to destroy everything. That, my friends, is the compulsion behind addiction.

It distressed me that at nearly 14 months sober, after several dull, sleepy — one might even say balanced — months, my old core issues had seemingly jolted back to life. Why now? What triggered this familiar, scary rush of need, to buy things, exercise all day, scroll through Twitter and Facebook, snap selfies…and write blogs on blogs on blogs?

All of the above = healthier than drinking tequila. So, there’s that. At the same time, it’s plain to see that the mere absence of alcohol does not remedy the underlying problem. It merely exposes it, more raw and real than ever before.

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