Six Months Sober. Alexa, Play “Every Day Is Exactly The Same” by Nine Inch Nails
Six months into sobriety and I feel like a snake shedding its skin over and over again.
This last April I found myself stranded in the Mojave Desert with six days to race out of there alive. The only water available was downright toxic but every minute that ticked by without reaching for it was insufferable.
Okay, that’s a bit theatrical . I was actually at home detoxing alone from my bed in Austin, Texas. I can think of no other way to accurately portray how difficult that first day or first week is without drinking again to remedy the situation. The detox process this time transpired so violently that I assume my body wanted to leave me with a lasting impression. Six days in bed purging evil spirits left me looking like a stale raisin.
I was elated when I made it to the other side alive. The worst of it in the rearview mirror and the next few months were almost blissful. I was ecstatic just to hop off the addiction merry-go-round for a little awhile. The living was easy, and I was high on all the ways I could take care of myself.
I started to feel things I had never felt before. Serotonin, perhaps. I was riding an endless wave of gratitude. Rising like a dried-out phoenix from the ashes to take a shower without my knees buckling beneath me, blessed was I to walk to a farmer’s market, juice up my treasures and feel a breeze on my freshly sculpted legs. I was full steam ahead. I quit vaping, I supplied my body with nourishing plants and spent all my money on herbal supplements to aid my body in its recovery. I walked away from toxic relationships, created a business plan and started a new website. I became obsessed with getting my shit together. Dare I say, addicted to it? I took pride in my new role as the champion of the Sober Olympics taking place in my mind. Charlie Sheen would post manic tweets about all my “winning”. I smiled at strangers at the store. I even smiled at my kooky neighbor that never has a shirt to wear and stares several seconds too long. The simple things in life like the perfect avocado were enough to make me rip off my blouse and dance on a countertop. Goddamn.
Then around month four, something happened. Emotions. They hit me like a Miley Cyrus Wrecking Ball.
I had my walls down and they surged in until I went underwater. I naively thought I made so much progress that I could bypass some of the trauma and just start my brand-new life. That’s when things got incredibly dark and uncertain for a bit. I was in limbo for a while, in a strange place of being overwhelmed and disassociated at the same time.
My mind was spinning out of my control, it was AGONIZING. I was chewing holes in my cheeks in my sleep and collapsing on the floor in hysterics over something such as spilled quinoa. The fucking worst to clean up by the way, honestly anyone would cry. Each day I would wake up expecting the feelings to have dissipated a bit. They never did. Day after day, week after week they arrived every morning.
Then I was reminded of something author Gabby Bernstein said, “Show up for what’s up or it will keep showing up”.
I couldn’t outrun my life any longer. Millions of little mental suitcases to unpack kept showing up but for the first time I kept showing up, too. Entirely and completely sober. In my gut, I knew that in order to gain a confident grip on my recovery that I had to get through this. I couldn’t go around it. I had to leave my wounds wide open so I could see what’s inside that made me want to escape in the first place.
Weeks went by, I was listless, lethargic and my body was tender to the touch. Every day was the same and the beginning of the recovery seemed like a lifetime ago. I went to therapy, I joined support groups and remained sober, anyway. I wanted an escape, but I didn’t want a drink. I was beginning to doubt my ability to move through this season when a strange thing happened. I just kept going, I pushed myself into a routine and slowly some of the pain started to sort of drift away. Maybe I just gained enough strength to carry it, I’m not sure.
As the discomfort softened, I recognized it. I was grieving. I missed….old, lush-y me. Maybe I’ll always feel that way. She got me here. She held my hand through love, heartache, grief, cross country moves and everything in between even if she was prone to fucking those things up. She was reliable, not necessarily responsible but she was always there. I don’t know how this new, “reformed” me likes to do things. She likely doesn’t know how to do anything.
I essentially entered a new relationship with myself and had to be patient as I figured out how to love myself. This new love was patient and gentle, but I could never forget that Roberta (my drunk alter ego) is still out there and can throw my whole life off a balcony. She’s done that before.
Existing in a spot where I feel so distant from my old self but not yet safe in my new one has me feeling like I’m not sure where my home is. It’s a necessary transition but I can’t help but wish it didn’t have to be this way. I fantasize of a day where her, whiskey and I could still hang out sometimes, but that throuple would never last.
Eight weeks of suspected mania and six months into sobriety later, I’m entering a realm of stillness and acceptance. My heart still aches sometimes but I’ve developed a newfound trust in myself to get me through it. I’m no longer obsessing over what it’s going to take to break me or where this road goes. I’m exhilarated, I’m hurt, I’m resilient, I’m hopeful, I’m evolving, and I’ve got this. At least I do today. I am living in the moment. One day at a time. Yee-haw.