When you’re sober, you’re yourself all the time. With the exception of a deep sleep where my subconscious takes over, I am thinking, feeling, and living every second of my life. That is not to say that those who partake in drinking or drugging aren’t themselves, but (for lack of a better word) I am speaking of the purest form of you. That has taken some getting used to. Sitting with myself. Remembering everything.
In the beginning I found myself obsessing over the past. Replaying instances. Wishing I could undo it. Sometimes it is beautiful. Waking up and replaying the way my nephews fall into each other laughing, every smile they’ve shown me early in the morning when I show up to their game. How beautiful my best friend looked as she danced in her yellow dress at her sister’s wedding. My strong footsteps walking home late at night after taking myself to a movie and my favorite food.
Sitting next to my ex boyfriend surrounded by oversized flower pots and the San Francisco skyline I’d never felt more sober. His arm still around my waist suddenly felt like a claw. It was just shy of two months after our breakup and it was the lowest I’d felt since. I’d felt the rush of familiarity in his face when I met him outside of his office. Trying not to look at it too much as we walked to the Pier because every time I did I could feel myself sinking. Listening to the words I’d waited so long to hear. My heart weakening with every syllable of his distinct Chicago accent. When his words turned from our plans for forever to the blunt admission that he’d actually begun to date someone else I forgot how to breathe. I sat there for a moment and thought about how I walk past this courtyard every day. How it would now forever remind me of the end. I endured the further admission that he in fact ‘felt nothing’ for me, contrary to the words spoken so freely into the evening before and ‘how did I expect this night to end?’
I waited awhile to write this blog because I didn’t know if it was fair. Though I will go to my grave knowing I was sucker punched that night, I make no claims to have been the perfect partner before. What I realized in sitting there those wasted hours was that I had spent every moment of the last two months working on becoming a better person. I hadn’t so much as attempted to even entertain the idea of focusing on anything other than myself. That may sound selfish, but it is actually quite unpleasant. I was overcome, constantly with surges of reality. I was blown away with just how supportive and loving my family and friends could be. Strangers on the internet who identified with sobriety. Their strength and their courage to not only wager their own lessons but reach out and inspire others in varying degrees of recovery. The first time I lost my temper in 116 days and the sobering realization that as divine as sobriety is, it is hardly a cure all. There are parts of myself that I am still at war with. There are parts of me that go far deeper than any method of escape I’d used in the past. They’re exposed now, real as ever.
I’ve learned that regardless of the question, comparison is never the answer. It serves no one to pretend that they can know and decide intimate details of a strangers or a loved ones life in comparison to their own. You never know anything other than what YOU know to be true from within you. For you. In yoga the other day the instructor asked us to let go of what we’re carrying around that isn’t ours. She said it again, her tone pleading. I begged myself to do what she told me. I know there is so much clarity and wisdom in her words. As debilitating as pain can be, it only remains as long as we carry the weight. If we see each day as borrowed time. Wagering each decision as one we would be happy with eternally. How do we want to spend our time? What is important enough to bring into tomorrow? The things we carry that are rooted in insecurity, loneliness, regret, anger, fear, comparison…these thieves of joy are things we should leave at the death of a day. No matter how dark the day gets, I’ve realized that I’ve never been more elevated by the idea of tomorrow. Another day to add to my tally. 117. Intoxicated now with the idea of it being everything all at once. Intention. Reflection. Forward motion. No longer looking back. Or for a way out. Going through.