I installed an app on my phone to count the days because I couldn’t trust myself to do it. Even now, 1 year, 11 months, and 25 days later, I still find myself questioning whether I got the date right — was it the 26th of February when I took my last drink, or the 28th?
The pills were the first to go; my stash ran out in late December. For the first time in longer than I could recall, I started a new year with only alcohol (and Zoloft) to lean on. There is little I remember from that time other than the terror of having to face myself.
I’m rolling up on two years sober and I’m sad. I’m grieving, still, for a life I once had; even though that life was hollow and riddled with anxiety, constantly haunted by unaddressed pain and trauma that I shoved down deep and covered with layer upon layer of old and new resentments until it was impossible to tell flesh from bone from maggot.
Self-awareness is a good thing to have but it requires a lot of emotional stamina. I loathe feeling sad. I worked really damn hard to avoid feeling anything but happy for a very long time, so it’s hard for me to accept that sometimes, part of the human experience involves being sad. I want to explain it away, validate it, erase it, busy it into thin air. POOF.
Grief doesn’t work that way. Grief hangs around until it is properly addressed.
They say it’s important to acknowledge milestones in sobriety so that the people behind us can see that recovery is possible. When my good friend hit her 2-year milestone a few months ago, I was ecstatic for her. “HOW DO YOU FEEL?” I shrieked, hopping up and down and clapping my hands in the parking lot.
She felt similar to how I feel today: moderately glum, with a general feeling of is this really all there is?
Even in the midst of this current bout of free-floating sadness, I am proud that I’ve come this far. The hesitation comes from knowing that I am an alcoholic/addict who will have to actively participate in my recovery for the rest of my life in order to remain sober. I can’t allow myself to think ahead, or it suddenly feels impossible and I start to shut down.
People who self-destruct always grieve the Thing That Destroys Them. I’ll never quite understand why.