sober lifestyle

Success

It’s always tough going back through old photos on my phone. My camera roll is full of emotional triggers, from the head-shaking, facepalming, uncomfortable close-ups of tequilas-on-the-rocks and (dear God!) my face under the influence thereof, to the guilty gut-punch of all those CrossFit gym pics.

You guys, I once won trophies for my fitness! One of them was even made of metal! 💪🏻🏆👸🏼

(I don’t know if you can read the plates in the above image, but that hardware was from a local competition called “Masters of the Universe” that I used to enter every year in my late 30s.)

Sitting here years later, sans six-pack abs, and a good two clothing sizes larger (I would guess…my pandemic wardrobe has been 100% extremely lived-in loungewear), having swapped alcoholism for a sugar addiction, I remind myself for the 10 millionth time that I was not happy as a hard-bodied exercise fiend. Doing muscle-ups and deadlifting 300 pounds and running around in public in a sports bra and booty shorts did not fill the hole inside, just as guzzling booze and buying things and cruising social media and even winning awards at work failed to soothe my restless soul.

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sober lifestyle

Honesty

My phone ran an update overnight, and when I reached for it, by irresistible force of habit, the second my eyes shot open (around 1 AM), it wanted me to jump through a few setup hoops before I could use it.

CREATE PASSCODE, it commanded.

No, thank you! — my mental reply.

Of course, there was no disobeying the iPhone, and I had to set a passcode before immediately heading to “Settings” to shut it off. The whole exercise took 90 seconds, but the significance of it remains stuck in my head.

I don’t have any reason to lock my phone. And that might be THE greatest gift of sobriety.

It’s difficult to explain, and I’m not going to get into specifics, but when you’ve lived the life of an addict and watched yourself spiral downward into dishonesty and depravity until you are so disgusted with the person you’ve become that you actually drink more to avoid dealing with that guilt and shame, and your spiral picks up steam, driving you lower, quicker…

I mean, yeah, after all that, it feels positively exhilarating to have nothing to hide.

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sober lifestyle

Punctuality

Gratuitous nature pic, Day 475.

“If I’m ever late, alert the authorities; there’s been foul play.”

They could put that on my tombstone. I mean, hopefully they won’t; I’d much prefer natural causes, but you know what I mean. If I have anything close to a catchphrase, it’s that little nugget of brilliance. 😏 You might’ve even heard me say it, back in the days we used to go places, when I showed up somewhere like an hour or more early. (Thanks for humoring me with the polite chuckle, BTW.)

Punctuality is actually listed among my professional skills on my resume. It should probably have a “hyper-” before it.

Come to think of it, hyper is putting it mildly, considering the intense physical reaction I had those two or three times in my life when I thought I might be late for something. Still have nightmares about driving to the Atlanta airport on the early morning of Christmas Eve 2000, that fateful day the alarm in my Macon apartment didn’t go off and I ended up with only 15 minutes of wait time at my gate. 😱

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sober lifestyle

Certainty

Celebrating a sweet Chicago Sunday on my Monday sunrise walk. Forgive the tired face; it was smashed into a pillow like 10 minutes prior to taking this pic. 🥱

Sunday was the first time in a long time that I sat down and intentionally watched sports. It was a “safe” endeavor, given my complete lack of skin in the Eagles-Washington game — which, come to think of it, lacked “skin” altogether, now that the home team has dropped its controversial nickname.

“Safe” is all I do these days, now that I’m sober.

Of course, the second that game was decided, the sports gods LOLed at my snugness (and smugness), and FOX switched to the final seconds of Bears-Lions. Detroit had the ball down 4, with favorable field position and plenty of time to snag the winning score. Then, before I could change the channel in a panic, they had it — no, they dropped it! — and Matthew Stafford was launching one more last-ditch pass…😱

This was precisely the type of emotionally-charged, unpredictable situation I have been strenuously trying to avoid for the past 14 1/2 months.

It’s almost — no, it’s exactly — like I don’t want to feel things I can no longer numb with a drink. 🤔

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sober lifestyle

Tradition

“This is too much rain, even for me,” I thought this morning as I peered out the door of my basement gym at the scene depicted above. The bottom portion of our deck was getting pelted, and I understood that I would have to program myself some kind of indoor workout, rather than taking my usual Saturday nature walk.

But, at least my hubby would be happy!

A soaking wet deck meant we couldn’t carry out my harebrained Memorial Day weekend scheme: setting up our tent right here at the townhouse and doing a quarantine campout.

I conjured up that ill-fated idea earlier this week, while walking through Tyler State Park at lunchtime of a much nicer day. Looking up at the leafy canopy above me, with sunlight streaming through onto my face, I was instantly catapulted to our campsite at Lake In Wood, Lancaster County, where we used to kick off the summer every year by kicking back in zero-gravity chairs and drinking beer (after beer after beer) under towering elm trees, next to a fire pit we worked hard to keep active all day long.

Old traditions die hard, but at 321 days, I’m starting to feel strong enough in sobriety to dive into some of my old favorite activities without one of my two long-time best friends.

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