I find the term ‘reinventing the self’ interesting. Who did the original invention? – Ursula LeGuin
I’m having a hard time writing this post because the content is so new to me. I kept putting off writing this because I’m grasping at straws, unsure of what to say. I guess I’ll just say what I’m feeling.
Mostly I’m finding that I’m a lot more withdrawn and generally quiet than Clare Who Drank. I want to be at home with my books and my Macbook Air. I shy away from the majority of social engagements, preferring the company of a few close friends, usually in someone’s home. I don’t weigh in on every conversation and I’ve stopped talking over people, a horrible habit I didn’t really recognize until I stopped drinking and people commented on the favorable change. I listen now. Really listen. I don’t think I’m as funny as I used to be (oh well, you lose some) and the need to force my opinion in edgewise has ceased altogether. I shrug, move on. I’m occasionally irritable. It turns out that when you’re sober all the time, you have this new annoying experience of feeling everything. Anxiety is something I have struggled with since I was a small child and is definitely still a part of my life, but now it’s the naive intern and not the chief-of-staff on my Soul Committee.
I wake up early four work mornings per week and work out for an hour before I go to the office. Once a week, I volunteer with horses for a few hours and feel my already low blood pressure dip even more. I pat their balmy necks, bury my face in their tangled manes, dump beet pulp into their feeders, and feel okay again. I’m piecing together who I am by auditioning different versions of who I want to be. Giving up the drinks is something I have wanted to do for the better part of five years and now that I’ve managed to put a significant amount of time between today and the last time I drank, I do feel a little scared. The idea of never drinking again is seriously daunting. I could take a nap just thinking about it. I enjoy all aspects of sobriety but it doesn’t mean that I’m “fixed.” All it takes is a beautifully backlit bar shelf or a pearly glass of white wine across the room to get my brain going, obsessively working out all the details and possibilities of when and if I could drink again, except moderately this time! I know this won’t and can’t happen, intellectually, but it usually takes a few minutes to talk myself back down, like a negotiator pointing out the less finer points of jumping to someone standing on the ledge of a skyscraper.
One of the whispered assurances of AA, although I’m not a participant, is one day at a time. I’ve been borrowing that because it’s fucking effective. I am not going to drink today. That’s all I have to master. Simple, no? And then the next day, and then the next, forever. I tell everyone and anyone that asks how much better I feel, how much happier. I do mean every word but it’s still a struggle and I don’t want to sugarcoat the “journey” (a token recovery word. I think you have to use it to graduate). I am teaching myself methodically that I do not want alcohol. I do not want alcohol. I do not want alcohol. I do not drink. I do not drink. I do not drink.
A lot of people have reached out to me to say that they were touched by the honesty and rawness of the prior two posts in this series. I sincerely have to thank everyone for being so supportive and open to this. Getting real in a blog is like spontaneously streaking across a football field. Here you are, in all your glory. Terrifying but liberatingly real.
Now I’m busy looking the world in the eye and sighing, usually choking on my own emotions. This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But nothing has ever been so worth it.
What’s old collapses, time changes, and new life blossoms in the ruins. – Johann von Schiller
Cheers to that.
Why I Quit Drinking, Part 1 of 3: Drunk History
Why I Quit Drinking, Part 2 of 3: Reasons to Run Like Hell
[You’re reading…Why I Quit Drinking, Part 3 of 3: Identity Change]