Today marks five years since I last drank. I’ve since been in many bars, been around many people drinking, but have had good enough friends to respect me, and steward me through. “If I saw you with a bottle in your hand, I’d knock it out and ask ‘what the hell are you doing?’” My external resilience has enough fortitude to endure pretty much anything now. I think it’s the internal weakness that kills us.
Some offensives I still carry even years after the one I offended forgave me. Maybe that weight subconsciously helps me avoid making similar mistakes? Maybe I haven’t forgiven myself for these transgressions? Maybe that’s the sting of ego’s pride against my intentions of living a good and decent life? How about those we’ve wronged that we can’t reach out to again and ask for forgiveness? Can we assume through symbolism that they’ve finally forgiven us?
“I know you’re in Seattle where it’s legal, but our client requires a, uh, drug test. Will that be a problem?” “Nope! I haven’t smoked in close to five years.” “That doesn’t really matter. Just as long as you can be clean for about 30 days. [1,2,3]” What happened five years ago on March 17th 2013 that made me so adamant against smoking cannabis? It’s not a happy memory. Here’s the story of why I fight this battle.
How did this happen? Is there a correlation between my childhood raised secondarily by videogames and my reality where much of it involves tempering my overexposure to reality to avoid finding myself in a drunken stupor? I doubt the hours I spent playing games like Mario, Final Fantasy, or EarthBound caused this. Encouraged an addictive framework? Perhaps. Spend another 10 minutes to level up, throw yourself to the mercy of inebriation, only to rinse and repeat?
If “The Story” is my writing end goal, why distract myself with so much? The rowing makes sense because it’s good to be healthy. Why not compress it down? Spend that time studying fiction? Read the classics? Take classes, write drafts, send them out for criticism, revise, and learn the craft? Well, the thing about John (left) and Trishna (right) is that they’re two shades of our reality spectrum, and their story references it all.
“Don’t go to the dark side.” “I’ve been there. It’s not really fun. I’ve been trying my best ever since to not go back[1,2].” Since becoming sober nearly 5 years ago, most of my actions have been about making the world a better place. I’ll act selfishly sometimes to avoid going back to the dark side, otherwise, my actions mostly center around helping others: acting without judgement, lending a hand, or even just not being shitty.
What’s your comfortable limit? How much until you say to yourself “that’s enough” and actually call it enough? Do you know at what point you’ll go too far? For me (and possibly others), there’ll be an excuse planned out rather than a plan to excuse myself from the situation. We’ll take it as far as it’ll last. Even Wednesday, with an endlessly refilled coffee cup, I know I still have improvement room with my resolve.
“What did that [overhead announcement] mean? It sounded cool!” “It meant [basically] in 30 minutes, all hands on deck[1,2].” Coming up on 5 years ago, I was just bumming around in life, and ended up working at a thrift store for the hell of it. While looking for new junk is my primary reason for going, I also like going to remind myself of the times I hopped into gnarly trailers full of donations to salvage rarities.
Words mean nothing when you’re stressed out and longing for that familiar, harmful way to decompress. Even close to five years later, the numbness of having a drink or five is still ingrained in my psyche as the ideal evening. We must instead practice alternative actions. Since I don’t think as clearly in the evenings, after constantly confronting stress, I go to sleep early to subconsciously wade through that stress to arrive at actionable solutions.
In ten years, how will sobriety look? Not just mine, but our scientific understanding of addiction? We have antidepressants, anti-anxieties, antipsychotics, and SSRIs to potentially destroy our free-will to dampen our emotions. How about something less extreme? Will we have a pill addressing only the physical reactions to stress… possibly causing addiction? Will stories of insobriety still weigh me, and everyone, down? Will polite society become more accepting? Will we see sobriety root cause analysis?