[Sober Living] Six Years Sober

This is just going to be a formless essay. I’ve omitted the picture, and won’t go for the usual 75-word introduction, chorus-verse-chorus writing style, so much of this is just going to be raw thought, unedited, and just going at my own pace.

I haven’t been feeling great lately. I have that sort of itch that a substance like alcohol can smooth for days now. Lingering and acute anxiety that lasts for longer than it should. Feelings that things around me are just constricting. Even as I approach my sixth year of sobriety, there are still feelings of wanting to inebriate, to escape, to liberate myself of these woes. I’m sure everyone feels these. It’s just for me, and for others like me, there is no long-term escape. We can only run away from these temptations for so long. Facebook ads bombard me with alcohol ads with ruthless abandon even after I’ve turned off “alcohol” ads and gone through and blocked 1,400 some ads, one at a time, taking close to 45 minutes to do. There is no escape. It’s not like I can really be free from this mindset. The most I can do is write about how it feels and get that feeling out into the world. Perhaps, then, there will be something that you, or I, can do to relieve ourselves of these sorts of not quite human-experiencing ennui, not quite boredom, not quite stress, and not quite feelings of having everything crumble around us.

I’ve put on a lot of weight over the past few months. I’m ten pounds heavier than I was in December. I’ve exercised significantly less and now that I’m moved, there isn’t an easy solution to start rowing again. I don’t want to disrupt the neighbors too much. No option I have seems to work. I will probably need to buy a new rower to satiate my rowing needs, but without a long-term job yet, and without a steady paycheck, I don’t feel much like investing in something expensive. I can’t stop eating, either. I get so hungry, and I’m sure that’s just a mild gnawing than a pang of actual hunger. When I exercise, I don’t get this way. It’s only when I don’t have a way to burn off this superfluous energy. It just keeps on building. It might not be hunger then.

I haven’t been feeling like writing or editing much lately. I haven’t gotten this way in a long time. It’s probably the first time where my writing has felt more like an obligation than fun. It’s probably just because I’m dealing with two long-overdue essays that just need to get done, but it’s more than that. I don’t think I’m burned out on the writing process itself, and I don’t quite feel a sort of hatred toward writing like I do with most things. I don’t know if it’s a matter of just taking a break. I don’t know if a day or two off from writing or from obligation would really help, since Sunday I slept for most of the day, and Monday I didn’t do much of anything. Today, Tuesday, I did some errands to help myself get back to a normal feeling, and tomorrow (Wednesday), things will probably return mostly to normal.

I ate well and had plenty of water. There was still a persistent urge that usurped my calm to the point of needing to masturbate, which, let’s go ahead and address this: I have had anxiety for years, but I’ve already had an effective anti-anxiety medication with masturbating, and the chemicals I’ve taken to combat anxiety are the equivalent of filling a small pool with a firetruck’s water hose: a good spread of chemicals to dampen those physical sensations but too much more than what I actually need.

All I really need is to reassess my current situations. I get anxious when priorities get readjusted too violently. When I want to do X but Y and Z need to get done first. It’s worse when I don’t have the energy to say no to Y or Z, and they’re not really important, but I still have to do them anyways. Actually, no, it’s worse when I don’t have to do Y or Z but others force them upon me like some sort of affliction that I have to force myself through before I can get to X. If X marks the spot, then my life and my mind is cluttered with the rest of the alphabet for too much of the day.

It’s like when self-doubt creeps in. There are moments in my day, throughout my day, where I feel like I’ll fail at one thing or another. I try to quiet those thoughts as much as possible because they’re not really constructive thoughts to help progress me along. It’s the same with self-criticism. I accept criticism quite easily because most of it addresses the root issue, I suppose, but the longer I’ve remained sober and the more I’ve interacted with people, the less quickly I’ll hand over elements of my self-respect for others to tatter, so all they get is surface-level. You can’t harm the surface too much.

Let’s dig in deeper now that we’re over 800 words in. Right now, I’m feeling overwhelmed by everything that I have going on. I think that’s what’s been leading to my lack of motivation in doing all that much, and it could be because I haven’t been able to exercise, or maybe because everything about my life has literally been shuffled around with this move, but I’ve been feeling much less comfortable now than one month ago, I suppose, but in different ways. Rather than that freefall to moving out, now I have the sort of lingering hatred that I’m in a situation I don’t quite like but have to withstand for another year.

It’s really terrible living somewhere where screaming kids can pierce through the music you’re listening to with headphones on at 9:27PM. Someone called the police today, which helped quiet them down a little, and the apartment complex apparently brought over a note asking them to quiet down, but it only lasted for a little bit. They don’t care. I’m adapting to learning to deal with not caring about that as well. I probably will need to similarly adopt a thicker skin for dealing with my neighbors as I have in dealing with most people.

I feel like I’m juggling a lot of different balls and most of them are falling around me. Yet when I look around, nothing really is falling. It’s that sort of persistent fear that weighs down on me the most. I don’t like it. It’s not the sort of negative energy that makes for good writing in this series, and then I went and did some other things for one hour or so. I’m feeling better. So going down this rabbit hole made me realize that my frustrations were just minor, surface-level things that I can address. Maybe I’ll just go to sleep soon and wake up early, start to work, and just bust out some work tomorrow.

I’ll do that. I guess this was an uneventful 6th-year anniversary post. You’re welcome.

As an addendum, let’s explore my thoughts the next day.

I had an interview that I bombed. These are among the deepest lows we’ll feel as human beings because we try so hard to do so well but then we are shut down by individuals that barely even know us, and have judged us against standards that might not even be reasonable. Here, I am upset because the job description – a legally-binding document – made no reference to the questions asked in the phone interview. Summarizing what I wrote on Facebook, the job description read like an internship for babies where the only expectations were (a) having a pulse and (b) surfing various subreddits frequently. The phone interviewer, in addition to being five minutes late, asked me a series of unreasonably technical questions for a role that I would otherwise have been able to do well at, if I were the dirty sort to lie and cheat.

I felt like shit for over two hours now, and I’m just barely getting over it. That’s the toxicity of life that seeps into our consciousness. I should be happy as can be. I have a job lined up that starts soon, I have what is essentially a nice, long weekend, into what should be an easy job, and yet, because of investments of emotions placed from me into an unknowing and unassuming unknown I have become perturbed and self-loathing to a point where, had it been six-plus years ago, I might have taken the rest of the day off as a drunken adventure through leisure and not worked through these emotions. I don’t want to say that writing is a cure-all for me, because it most certainly can’t address the height of the emotional stress that caused me to focus on my phone for a solid 15 minutes, playing 2048, with nothing other than myself and the game, me communing in a sense with the gameplay, allowing the pieces to form, merge, clear, and form again in both the puzzle’s digital space and in my own mental space where I formed ideas, merged them together, cleared them up, and reformed newer, better, and more precise ideas about how I’d manage my life.

2048 may be the real sobriety helper in this situation. Between a decompressing conversation with the person that referred me to this role and playing a fast 10-minute set of 2048, I feel even better, maybe in part because the coffee has kicked in, and I’m ready to go. Just remember that life is a shitty thing some of the time, but an overwhelming majority of it is neutral, with some of it even being pretty nice. Don’t let those shitty things weigh on your mind much more than they need to, and let that pass as quickly as possible using two methods: first, get over the height of the wave of anxiety with something distracting for about 5 or 10 minutes, something enjoyable, and then second, find something that you really enjoy doing and do that for one hour or two. After that, you’ll probably be OK for the rest of the day, but then the next day will probably be better. So just keep that up.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: I already had a post scheduled for today, but I remembered my sobriety date, and like, uhh, instead of writing about how it’s like a birthday and new birth, I just turned this crap in. Oh well, I feel better now, having written it, so I guess that’s good.
Related: “Five Years Sober,” “Four Years Sober,” and this whole category.
Written On: March 26th [1 hour or whatever], March 27th [15 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)