Usually when I hit a “soberversary,” I immediately take to the blog to recognize it. For some reason this year, on the actual day itself (6/19), I just couldn’t figure out what to write. I’ve been in a state lately where the words don’t come as easily as they usually do.
I’m getting my medallion this Friday. In the past, I’d make something of a big deal about it, having it presented at a big meeting I used to attend, getting a card signed by everyone in the meeting, and getting brunch afterwards. This year I’ve opted to get it at a very small meeting I go to on Fridays, where there are usually no more than 10 people, most of them I consider to be mentors and friends. Greta. David. Mark. A hilarious young woman who, for some reason, thinks I’m right for the job of walking along beside her on the often gravelly and lopsided road of recovery, will be giving it to me. It feels right. It’s not about splashy anymore.
I did the math, and realized that at 15 years, I’ve now been sober for as long as I drank. That shit is CRAZY. I started drinking as a teenager, and I stopped in my very early thirties. The years in between? A blur punctuated with just enough humiliation and heartbreak to get me to where I realized I had to stop, before it killed me. And make no mistake – it absolutely would have killed me. I suspect that there are many people who still don’t quite get that. It’s something you can buy in the grocery store. It’s what you pick up on the way home from work on a Friday evening, to “unwind.” Go into any gift shop and you’re confronted with the CUTENESS of it: “Wine improves with age; I improve with WINE.” It’s funny….until it isn’t.
I’m truly fortunate in that I’ve made more friends than I’ve lost since I quit drinking. There were a few people who definitely avoided me in the early months, and years, as if my alcoholism was contagious (it’s not). And we won’t get into the ones who stopped calling because if I wasn’t going to go out and drink, what fun was that? It made me realize just how many seemingly fundamental relationships were entirely focused on alcohol. I still mourn people I drove away with my drinking (and untreated mental illness). But I’d like to believe I’m better at that whole Golden Rule thing, most of the time.
I should also talk about the vomit. I was the sovereign vomiter of our epoch. If you knew me back in the Nineties, chances are I puked around you. In your car. In your driveway. In a stainless steel mixing bowl you hurriedly grabbed for me before I puked on your couch. I have vomited across these United States. I can honestly say that – mirabile dictu – I have only vomited ONCE in the past 15 years, and that was from a breakfast sandwich.
So here it is – the annual “I Made It Another Year Without A Drink, And BOY Am I Thirsty” post. I’m grateful.