[Sober Living] Six Years Clean

March, for me, is about new beginnings. Six years ago on St. Patrick’s Day, rather than reminiscing over memories of my childhood dog and the joy he brought, I selfishly indulged. Photos of Patrick aren’t full of regret, rather, his smiling face encourages me to smile. I lost something between then and now. I don’t what exactly, but some sort of profound hole of satisfaction. We had smiles when we were young. Let’s keep smiling.

The black-and-white photo in the lower right might be my current favorite.

When I think back to when Patrick and I would hang out, those were nice times. I still fondly remember petting him on the head and he always liked the attention. There were parts of my childhood, particularly around socializing, that made it difficult for me. I often wanted to become an adult because I hated the restrictions and stress of school, but it seemed like any concern I had over whether I would fail a test just became overblown imaginations.

Nothing bad ever happened from failing a test.

Now, it’s more of existential dread in the traditional sense of home, income, and overall security. There are often moments where I don’t feel great. The stress of everything in life can be completely overwhelming. I’ve managed to get this far without returning to any bad habits, though partially that resulted in me developing other habits like overeating or buying things that masked that sense of happiness.

These are symptoms of a deeper hunger for something more substantial.

Once I could put a name to that feeling as depression, as an adult, I often felt that growing up, but how much of that is situational – like not being around a smiling puppy that’s just happy that you’re around – and how much of that is biological? For me, much of it is situational. That was what caused the excessive behaviors in many regards. If one feels good, two feels better, right? If one doesn’t feel good, then mask that pain with something, right?

I joke about how Patrick had puppy anxiety.

Occasionally, he’d fret over something that might seem trivial to us, but for him was a big deal. He might want to go outside, come back inside, or stare until he received a pat on the head and some treat. Even for him, with an easygoing life where never saw any overwhelming conflict, there were still occasional bouts of anxiety and sadness. We cannot escape that. Even if some of us are more prone to feeling low than others, I don’t think there’s a creature alive that is experiencing a life of full elation.

We all have our ups and downs in life.

How can we manage those ups and downs? If they’re “minor” like mine, I’ve found that when I’m feeling down, writing helps me work through ennui and other mental problems. When I’m feeling up, I’ll write more, too.

For Patrick, without bragging, some of his ups might have included seeing me.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: St. Patrick’s Day, for me, is more of a celebration of Patrick than any sort of traditional holiday. We named him after the holiday. I saved this essay slot so that around this day, I could write how I’ve been living with sobriety for this long.
Related: Other Sober Living essays.
Photos: My countertop with photos of Patrick.
Written On: March 16th [25 minutes]
Last Edited: First draft; final draft for the Internet.
My big goal is to write. My important goal is to write "The Story." My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame a fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. Let's strive to be better everyday. (Avatar)