So I’m watching the Olympics, my favorite Q2 year activity when I get all patriotic and love to see an American kick some doped up Russian ass. I find that interrupting my usual snarky outbursts of “stick your landing!” and “in your face, Comrad!” are what I am pretty sure to be tears in my eyes every time Michael Phelps swims, speaks, kisses his baby, makes meme-worthy faces at some cocky South African Johnny-Swim-Lately. It took a few days to realize why.
In September 2014, I woke up to a twitter feed all a…twitter? over Michael Phelps’s second DUI. I fired off some social media social justice and wondered how he could be so stupid, so irresponsible, so reckless. Without even a nod to the fact that I had, that morning, woken up in a lovely hotel that I had checked into with a bottle of Fireball for the sole purpose of having a change of scenery to accompany drinking myself into temporary oblivion. I suppose that day I didn’t think that the whiskey was what I needed a break from. No. Definitely my noisy neighbors moving in and slamming doors all day. Intruding on my ability to sleep off a hangover. But that Michael Phelps, man, what a clusterfuck of a human, amiright??
Michael got the wake up call loud and clear and checked into rehab shortly after his embarrassing evening. Me, I got a wake up call from the hotel, tossed my stuff back in a bag, shoved some sunglasses on and headed back out to do exactly whatever I had been doing for the last 2 or 3 years. Which was probably not much beyond going to work, procrastinating and making generally poor personal decisions but I bet I picked up a fresh bottle of vodka or Fireball or wine.
24 days ago I realized I hadn’t had a drink in a couple of days and I decided that I did not want to drink the third day. That would be the longest I had gone without alcohol in at least 4 years. As my career became more stressful, demanding that I give it everything and neglect my own most basic needs, I poured alcohol on the neglected bits of my soul every night. But that is another topic for another day.
Today Michael has a year and a half of sobriety and me? I have chosen for 24 days in a row that I would rather be sober than drunk. It’s been weird and emotional but not that hard because like so many people, I didn’t drink so much as to be physically dependent but 1600 days or so of preferring to go to bed drunk can’t reflect positively on one’s state of mind. And Michael Phelps has appeared like Poseidon on my tv at the Olympics a big happy smiling crying giant of a man who finally has his shit together and it looks good on him. And I want him to succeed. Not just at collecting dooms-dayers’ amounts of gold but at being alive. His smiling crying meme generating face feels like proof that it is, in fact, better when you stop running away from yourself. And I wish I could…on the extremely remote chance that he read my “you’re a disgrace, you selfish brat” twitter tirade…explain that I was just bitchy because I was really REALLY hungover.