If you’ve been here before, you don’t need me to explain the above photo. You know that’s the whiteboard on the wall in my basement gym, aka “Fly The W Fitness.” And those are the one-day-at-a-time red hash marks I’ve been drawing on every inch of the thing — except a small space in the middle where we can write actual workout stuff, and a column where I collect inspirational quotes from the likes of deep-thinking former Cub Nick Castellanos and badass assassin/world-saver Arya Stark — to keep the score of my sobriety since July 7, 2019.
You’re looking at the tally as of last Tuesday.
Since I’ll officially run out of room in a few days when I hit 17 full months, my husband’s idea is to cover the walls with whiteboard paint so I can just start marking time there…
I almost literally lost it the other day during my weekly virtual recovery meeting, so it’s a good thing we spent so much time messing with technical difficulties that the hour expired before I could go on an unhinged tirade. I’m fed up with Zoom, and staring at computers, and with everyone who tells me that MORE of these meetings full of rustling and background noise are the antidote to my increasing insanity. Or asks me if I’m praying. Or gives any kind of advice at all using the words “you should.”
I’m fed up with the “this does not feel better” mindf*ck of early sobriety in the age of coronavirus.
I’m fed up with myself (you’re like, “That makes two of us!”)
Maybe I should just go back to bed.
My bed has become my favorite place in the world, now that the world’s in crisis, and I no longer drink. Every day I look forward to popping a melatonin gummy, hitting the pillow and shutting off. Sleep: the drug du jour on Day 294.
If it sounds like life might be a lot less….un-lifelike if I relapsed, I’m here to tell you, you’re right. I strenuously agree. In fact, it suddenly struck me one day, earlier this week when the sheer monotony of my (our) Groundhog Day existence and the rabid, feral rage of my 42-year-old hormones combined to drive me as close as I’ve ever come to complete nuclear meltdown, that I totally understand why people relapse. I understand why they say “f*ck it” after months, years, half-lifetimes of living in unaltered reality.
Getting sober is supposed to be about fully experiencing reality as your authentic self and resisting the sometimes-powerful pull of oblivion. It’s supposed to be about staying with yourself in the moment, and noticing and feeling everything that moment brings, without grabbing for the ripcord on the escape hatch.
This is who you are. This is where you are. This is what’s happening. And you’re OK, as is, without that mood-altering substance or electronic device or compulsive behavior or codependent relationship. …Or that entire “family size” (😂) bag of roasted almonds with sea salt that’s going to tear your digestive system to shreds overnight and also contains 1,543 grams of fat.
Yeah, man, after nine full months without alcohol, I’ve totally fallen into a rebound romance with food, but we’re not here to talk about my expanding ass.
I’m not sure what we’re here to talk about, actually, because I’m having a hard time trying to wrap my head around what’s real right now, in general. I’m plowing through each day like…well, like a farm animal attached to a plow — head down, blinders on, feet mechanically lifting and lowering, mind so numbed by the monotony of duty that where I’ve been and where I’m going blur into the same patch of dirt — and when I occasionally snap out of the wake-eat-work-eat-sleep stupor and look around, everything appears to be completely, surreally insane. Like living in a melatonin-fueled dream.
My daily routine still involves swiping a red marker on the whiteboard in my basement to log another 24 hours of sobriety (with #270, I filled up the entire right side and now have 3 hanging out in the top left), but it’s funny how once novelty wears off and a habit is formed, you can lose all sense of perspective. Am I making progress in recovery? I’m too “in it” to see it. The same can be said for the other end of the spectrum: Am I stuck in a downward spiral of addiction that’s destroying my life? (10 years pass) …Holy @#$&, what have I done?
You want to feel like the world is deserted? Take a walk in the pouring rain. I didn’t see a single soul while out getting my feet soaked in the neighborhood this morning…not that I minded. Hell, at that same time my poor husband was fighting crowds (and the frustration of not being able to find what’s on the list) at our local GIANT, and who wouldn’t rather be out in nature with puddles in their shoes than getting bumped into by oblivious cart-pushers and staring at an empty shelf where the chamomile tea used to be?
Ugh! I just got the whams thinking of being in a grocery store parking lot during a pandemic. I don’t even want to think about going inside the store! And he does this every week! 😱
My husband takes good care of me. He always has. The man even wrote into his wedding vows a promise to always keep me plied with my precious Diet Mountain Dew. No joke, although it’s become our running joke. I used to guzzle that shit back in my 20s when we met, but then again, I’ve always guzzled everything I got my hands on. My hubby knew that about me from the start and grew to love me anyway. He somehow kept loving me — and doing it from the same side of the same bed — when the relatively harmless poison of aspartame and caffeine was supplanted by mood-altering/soul-darkening fermented agave juice — straight, no chaser.
That was the title of a special podcast one of my favorite authors posted earlier this week, not an actual thought from my head. I sit here at 258 days sober, a good little social distancer (as always!) who has only left the house to walk to the park — alone — in the last 7.
My thoughts are actually much less coherent, and one of the many reasons I’m grateful to have a job where I can work from home during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is that work forces me to focus on something concrete for most of the day.