As the dog days of summer slowly crept into windswept evenings of autumn, I had a vague acknowledgment somewhere in the back of my mind that this would mean the start of the winter season was not all that far off, either.
Which means that the second anniversary of my sobriety date is approaching, also. Back in September I started thinking about what this meant, how I might like to celebrate the 2-year accomplishment mark.
The thought sort of got lost along the way, and right now my schedule is so full I honestly wouldn’t mind if I straight up had no plans for December 3rd. I’m sure I will end up tipping my cap in SOME way or another (last year’s surprise party at Emily’s house absolutely blew me away, and certainly set a precedent for fond gatherings in years future). There is some merit, though, to thinking about what the essence of “celebration” can mean to an alcoholic.
You see celebration, in my mind, is a concept that is still (and may forever loosely be) a central thread connected to a convoluted web of lies and self-deceit. For many users, the end game is escapism or fun or any other number of reasons to get altered. There’s no question we were quick to pick up in times of sadness, self-pitying, mourning, depression…but it felt a lot less like abuse (and a lot less lonely) if we could convince ourselves there were some greater cause, some reason for the season, to have 1 or 2 or ten or twenty. With alcohol especially, it is not hard to twist the arms of others into partaking in your self-abuse under the pretense of mutual amusement. “C’mon man, don’t make me drink alone!”
Thankfully, there is an easier, softer way. While I may still have those haunting associations with old habits, the fact is that is not my life now, today. I count myself incredibly lucky to still be surrounded by so many friends, all so brilliant and profound in their own individual ways. It is interesting, at times, when I speak about sobriety & recovery programs with those acquaintances of mine who are scholars of logic & reason — they often have difficulty understanding not even so much the nature of the disease, but why programs for treating it approach sobriety the way that they do. Particularly I find them questioning the “admittance to powerlessness” aspect, and skepticism at a need for a ‘Higher Power.’
“There is always a choice!” Is there? Maybe. Or maybe it is just a choice for those who struggle with self-control, and not substances. For a long time (in my younger, formative years) I myself was skeptical as to whether alcoholism was truly an affliction worth classifying as a “disease.” How is just not drinking alcohol the solution? Oh right, now I see, after it is far too late and I blindly ignored that which I did not want to see and hear for so long.
Because the desire consumes your entire being. Because your brain chemistry is wired incorrectly. In a rational mind, yes — everything you ever ever do is the result of making one choice over another. But addiction is a mental illness. It is only when you realize that you have no control, and you let go of the need for it…that, in strange sense, you gain control. I will never in my life forget the way my entire body felt a sense of release when I finally, at long last, admitted I had been on my own trying to control this cretin that had been burrowing deep within me for days, weeks, months, years…a decade. That is a long time to endure an endless wrestling match…and I got out early, and away clean. I shudder to think what going on with that life would feel like. May the best days of my past be the worst days of my future…and for that, today, I am grateful.
‘House of Cards,’ if you haven’t seen it, features the struggle with addiction at the root of one of its major plot points (and of course, being the powerhouse political drama that it is, manipulation, lies, deceit, and coercion in every episode). The scene below particularly resonated with me, and is acted and edited in such a raw and true framing.
My count as of this morning: 700. 700 days. 23 months.
Fuck the Zero.