Last week, I shared how the pandemic is affecting my recovery journey on Good Morning America. (Read the full story and watch the interview here!)
Of course, a lot of the things I told Deborah Roberts during our interview didn’t make the cut, and it dawned on me that maybe I could write it all down here, for anyone who might need to hear it.
Let me start by saying that the situation we find ourselves in, A PANDEMIC, is literally the worst. The worst. I am not okay and I don’t want to make it seem like I am — however, I’m not drinking and everyone in my immediate family is healthy, and right now I think that is all we can ask for. The bar for being at “an acceptable level of not horrible” is dreadfully low. In fact, when the producer from GMA called to let me know the segment was airing the following morning, she said, “Hi Harmony, how are you?” And without thinking, I responded, “I’m fine!” followed immediately by “NO ONE I LOVE IS DEAD YET.”
Now that we’ve established that we are all simply doing the best we can to make it through the day, I’m going to share how I’m handling this thing I like to call the Dry Pandemic. It is survival of the soberest. And can I just say, having all my wits about me right now feels almost painful.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times during this thing that I’ve considered drinking. In times of extreme stress, I automatically revert back to my old ways of coping. My knee jerk reaction to a pandemic is not to meditate, pray, or look for ways to help other people. My knee jerk reaction is to drink, and not like a lady. I mean draaaaaaaaaank. Some people in recovery say that the desire to drink has been removed, but I have not experienced that phenomenon. The miracle for me is that even though I might want to hole up in my bedroom with a gigantic cup of alcohol, ignoring everyone and everything, I have the tools today to make different choices.
Being sober does not mean the absence of thinking about drinking (or eating CBD gummy bears). I THINK ABOUT IT, I JUST DON’T BE ABOUT IT. I’ve thought about doing all kinds of things that could take the edge off of what feels like an impossible situation, including running away from home, but the difference is what I choose to do with those thoughts.
First, I acknowledge that they are there. I don’t ignore them or try to stuff them down, I say Hello, crazy idea. How’s it going? And then I immediately tell someone my thought before it has time to take hold. Almost always, when I verbalize something out loud like “I think Robbie might actually have a second family instead of a job,” I am able to hear just how ridiculous it sounds. But, if I keep it to myself, giving it room to grow into a giant clusterfuck, chances are that I will end up hurting someone else or myself.
The benefits of being stone cold sober during the worst health crisis in the history of ever are ever-evolving, but here’s what I’ve got thus far: as long as I continue to take care of my own emotional health, I can continue to help my kids make their way through this without further damaging them. But if I drink, ALL I will do is damage the people that I care about the most.
For today, everyone in recovery is doing the impossible. No matter what happens: loss of loved ones, livelihood, home, and security – we refuse to go back to our old ways of thinking and living. A saying I hear often in the rooms of recovery is “My worst day sober is still better than my best day of drinking.” And it’s true. Because when I was drinking, I hated myself.
If you have the willingness to change, there is always hope. You are never alone.