I have been in recovery for 932 days.
They say that alcoholics are fortunate because we get to experience two lives. There is Before I Got Sober, which wasn’t exactly the lying-in-the-gutter-covered-my-own-feces kind of bad, but was quickly heading there, and then there is the second part of my life.
This summer, a whole lot of crazy opportunities started falling out of the sky. I was in The Washington Post. I was on the radio. ABC brought a crew to my house and filmed for 12 hours. I spent a lot of time talking to Deborah Roberts.
It’s generally considered positive for amazing experiences to rain down upon a person who is trying really, really hard to do the next right thing, so imagine how confusing it was for me to feel empty and paralyzed.
I wanted nothing more than to hide out in my house, speak to no one, and forget I ever loved writing. I wanted to change my mind on all the things. I wanted to take it all back, undo the improvements and hours of therapy and self healing.
And while I didn’t consciously think that drinking was a good idea, my fallback for every uncomfortable feeling is STILL, after 932 days, to numb out.
“I feel like if I walked into a greenhouse full of marijuana plants, I’d probably start grabbing fistfuls of leaves and cramming them into my mouth,” I told my therapist. “Can you get high from eating raw pot leaves?”
So here is the deal: the addict part of my brain doesn’t want me to get better. She wants to keep me sick. She doesn’t want to help other people. She knows that the more I tell on my disease, the harder it will become for her to destroy me. That part of me flares up, big time, whenever good things happen; she whispers in my ear that it’s not real, that somehow I’m fooling everyone, I’m not qualified or worthy enough to actually succeed.
Sometimes, I believe her.
But, on the day I told my therapist I wanted to cram unprocessed marijuana into my mouth just to see what happens, she pointed out to me that secrets like that one are exactly why I need to keep doing what I’m doing. Yes, it is SO UNCOMFORTABLE AND SCARY, OMG. Yes, it’s possible that I could royally fuck it up in a very public way. Telling the world about recovery means that I have to fully commit to sobriety. There is no going back. I am all in.
And that, to a person like me, is the scariest thing in the world.
Tonight, the full episode will air on Nightline. I don’t feel ready. I didn’t do the things I wanted to do beforehand, like hire a web designer or finish my book proposal or … or … or. But, like my friend Audrey reminded me, I would never feel ready. So here goes.