sober lifestyle

Patience

What I love about the Delaware Canal towpath — long, flat, soft stretches of trail uninterrupted by roadways — is also what I hate about it. How I’m feeling depends on whether I’m on the way out on a run, or on the way back, when I’ve gone as far as my achy lower back, touchy hamstrings and crampy calves can carry me without anything snapping or falling off, and I’ve slowed to a walking pace out of self-preservation.

That return trip to the car takes for-EVER.

It feels like plodding away on a treadmill, watching the seconds tick by but not really getting anywhere. You know you’re covering ground, but the distance ahead only seems to grow and grow. Your mind starts to dwell on all forms of discomfort: you’re cold, even moreso because you’re sweaty, and the coffee + energy drink from an hour ago is sloshing in your bladder, and your entire lower body is stiff as 🤬, and you wish like hell you could time warp to the point when you’re showered and cozy in house coat and pajama pants, probably also a winter hat for added warmth, and you’re eating egg whites with spinach and broccoli in front of some “Law & Order” rerun on TV.

It occurred to me, as that exact scenario played out on Sunday morning, that I spend a ridiculous amount of my life wishing away my life. I’m constantly looking at the clock, then looking anxiously ahead to when whatever is happening will be over.

This is why I’m not a good cook. Who wants to stand idly in a kitchen for 20 minutes, waiting for meat to reach that no-longer-potentially-deadly “done” point, or for a pizza to get un-soggy in the center? Who wants to spend TWO minutes heating up water for tea in the microwave? It’s so uncomfortable I have to, like, grab my phone and start scrolling through Twitter to occupy the emptiness.

Patience is a virtue…something something…” Hell, I couldn’t even stay in the moment long enough to listen to the entire proverb my grandmother used to say back in the day. No clue why she was always saying it to me. 😉

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sober lifestyle

Spirituality

Living within walking distance of Tyler State Park is right up there at the top of my gratitude list, next to “super-supportive hubby,” and I’m in the park so often that I’ve become quite adept at stealthily squatting in the woods.

The bathrooms are closed, I assume because of COVID, and you gotta do what you gotta do, and there are plenty of large trees to hide behind in the off chance a family of bikers appears out of nowhere, as they always seem to do when I’m in the middle of saying my prayers out loud to the sky.

Yes, I’m a literal tree hugger who talks to nature. And however peculiar this might look to the random passerby — as far as I know, I haven’t traumatized anyone with my brief displays of public semi-nudity — this is how I stay sane at nearly 15 1/2 months sober.

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sober lifestyle

Fortitude

In a former life, my hobby was signing up for fitness competitions and paying to get my ass kicked — and my nerves rattled — for entire Saturdays, from pre-dawn until whenever the three, four, five workouts were complete, and I got knocked out of the running for the coveted plastic trophy/tin medal/commemorative T-shirt/$5-off Hylete coupon, and I’d fully drained the 12-pack of hard ciders I packed with my CrossFit gear.

Apart from the drinking, I honestly hated every second of those comps. I hated the whole day. It was awful to wake up scared, feeling immense pressure and dreading what I had to do — what I’d chosen to do — and wishing I could just choose not to do it, just change my mind, even if that made me a weakling or a coward.

It’s been a long time since I felt that particular kind of unpleasant anxiety. I’m feeling it now.

Tomorrow, I’m going to wake up and go get a tattoo, all by myself.

The last time I did this, four years ago, I white-knuckle-death-gripped my husband’s hand for 45 minutes straight as Sue, my tattoo artist, branded my shoulder with a simple, monochromatic ‘W’ flag in honor of the Cubs’ historic World Series victory. I think I branded Hubby in the process.

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