It’s Day 20 and boy oh boy, am I feeling sorry for myself. The level of self-pity is impressive, really. The thing is, it’s not exactly because I want to drink. I kind of don’t want to drink. It’s because I want something else to fill that space and I haven’t figured out what it is yet. There’s no doubt that my life is better on every possible axis than it was 21 days ago, but also no denying that there’s a bit of a hole in it, too. I’m trying to be patient and give my new life more than half a second to take shape, but patience never has been my strong suit.
One thing that’s tough right now is that my hip flexor or psoas is strained from running–just a minor strain, but even a minor injury to the muscle you use to pick your leg up is not ideal. Exercise–a decade-long yoga practice (that’s right, I’ve been a serious yogi for ten whole years and still managed to develop a drinking problem 🙂 ), Pilates, and a rather slow, agonized form of running–is really important to me for stress and mood management. I’m a live-in-my-head kind of person with perfectionist tendencies and a very high-profile job, and that hour a day of just moving my body is the only kind of outlet I have sometimes. (Well, now it is. I used to have wine…) So here I am sober, tense, and with maybe 1.7 functioning legs. Make that 1.6 since I tripped on the sidewalk today on the way to buy myself some flowers at the farmer’s market and took a header, busting up my knee and my phone in one neat trick. So yeah–I feel like a giant, stressed, sober brain on a stick this week. And yet there’s really no question in my mind that I’m going to stay sober. I’m just going to be a big baby about it, I think.
I apologize in advance for quoting Alanis Morissette at you. I’d like to think of myself as someone who quotes Lydia Davis at you instead, and if she ever has anything fucking useful to say about sobriety, maybe I will. But in the meantime–you know that song ‘Thank You’? Where she’s telling herself to get off antibiotics and remember her divinity and whatever else? I know you know what I’m talking about–I bet we were even wearing the same raisin-colored lipstick back then, missy! Well, that line ‘the moment I jumped off of it was the moment I touched down’–as of day 16, that’s what being sober feels like to me, most of the time. So much fear. Years of it. And then the distance from there to here was just not nearly as far as it seemed.
I’m not sure this twenty pounds is going to ‘just fall off’ as advertised if I continue to eat my weight in ice cream. Hmm.
I have a large dog, an eighty-pound Golden Retriever with one of those big block heads, and he is just the tiniest bit maniacally, single-mindedly fixated on me, the only mother he remembers. An Anne Lamott line about her toddler son gazing at her ‘like a mournful fiancee’ once sent me running up all the stairs in my house to tell my husband ‘This! This is how it feels!’ Linus adores my husband too–is in fact prone to sitting up chocolate-bunny-style to hug him around the neck–but he is engaged to marry me. By 6 a.m. most mornings he has draped himself over me like a lead apron, so that his shoebox head is the first thing I see when I open my eyes. And this intensity of affection can be kind of a lot, especially when you’re hung over on a Saturday morning and not really up for hiking in the park or tossing the spitty tennis ball or whatever else dogs like to do on a romantic weekend with their mom. How many Saturdays have I done my best to be a great mom to that galumphing, joyous creature with no sense whatsoever of my own joy, no pleasure watching him run and roll on his back and make friends and make a fool of himself? Just waiting for the moment I can lie back down, or get a greasy meal, or wait out the sick feelings in a dark movie theater?
I mention this because it occurred to me about an hour ago that I never have to be hung over on a Saturday morning again if I don’t want to be. I might not wake up peppy, or ready to be the center of someone’s world, or even feeling well-rested, but I could choose to never again wonder on a Friday night if my head will be pounding come eight a.m. And that’s amazing. That choice seems like the definition of freedom to me right now.
It’s the Fourth of July and I’ve been sober for thirteen days. (I know, I can’t believe it either!) I think I sort of…like it? Anyway, I created this blog as a place to document this thing I’m doing and explore my thoughts about alcohol and what it’s meant in my life. Not just the bad stuff, either–I want to look at it from all angles, in whatever way seems useful or interesting to me when I sit down to write. And so, well, that’s what I’ll do.