I am eleven years sober today.
If one looks at one’s sobriety date as a rebirth of sorts, I guess you could say that I am in the “tween” stage of my recovery, like the sober equivalent of a Belieber who writes stuff on her arms in pink marker. Beginning to assert my independence by being kind of a brat. “Just drop me off HERE, Mom….I don’t want anyone to know YOU drove me.”
Does that make sense? Probably not. Anyway…
Usually what I’ve done in the past, when I’m writing something on my anniversary, is go back and talk about what an unholy fucking wreck of a person I was in June of 2002. I was standing on the precipice of just one more in a series of burned bridges for which I was responsible because I couldn’t stop drinking. But most of you know this.
The morning I had my last drink (which kind of – technically – wasn’t my last drink because I actually couldn’t keep it down) was like every morning which had preceded it for months and months. I was singularly incapable of dealing with anything without anesthesia. I’d have something to settle my nerves and to stop my hands from shaking, and then sit at my desk and try to look like I was doing something, until the panic would well up in me again and I’d have to scurry off somewhere to attempt, once again, to drown it.
But as any recovering addict will tell you, you can never, ever chemically beat the fear into submission. It always comes roaring back, angered by your attempts to hold its head underbourbon. Or undervodka. Underchardonnay. Whatever.
But I wasn’t going to talk about all of that today.
This morning was like nearly every morning which has preceded it for several years. I got up. I scooped poop from the litter box. I made coffee. I assessed the leg stubble situation to figure out if I could get away with one more day of wearing a kicky little dress without shaving.
Let me tell you something: these are all miracles.
Part of my recovery is making sure that I never entirely lose sight of the fact that by the end of my drinking, I couldn’t even handle doing laundry. Another part of my recovery is making sure that I never tell myself “I wasn’t THAT bad.” Because I was. I was well on my way to drinking myself to death. That I can have a morning involving cat poop and leg stubble is a gift.
There are challenges right now. My mother-in-law continues to decline. I have to accept that I cannot reverse what is happening to her. There is no “reset” button I can hit that will make her the person she used to be. It is difficult to see this as a “gift.” It is a learning experience, certainly.
My mother-in-law lives from moment to moment now, pretty much. Explaining something that is coming up even two days into the future puzzles her. In a way, it’s kind of a template for the way I should be living. What I have is today, with its accompanying cat poop and coffee and challenges and joys. If I look too far ahead, I get overwhelmed. If I hold fast to expectations, I will invariably be disappointed.
Today’s pretty good so far. You?