I struggled mightily with anxiety last night. Today was not magnificent but I survived the bad night and I made it through the day and I’m back home in my bed. Still sober. I don’t have to drink. I knew for at least three years that I needed to dial it back. But I just couldn’t get out of the cycle of feeling anxious so I’d drink then feel more anxious so drink again and on and on and on. That the answer was to just STOP, just get OFF the world’s crappiest merry-go-round…that’s a bit like Dorothy and her ruby slippers. I give myself credit for groping toward the light when the light was just a rumor. I started trying. And it took eight months of bumping into things in the dark (speaking mostly metaphorically there) before it clicked in my brain that the drinking had to stop TODAY. That today is the day. No more cutting down, no more stalling. No more telling myself that one or two drinks a day was an improvement and not affecting my life. I felt like shit there at the end even on the one drink a day program because I no longer liked the taste or the way it made me feel and I was aware that I was afraid to stop.
Which brings me to the good part. I am free of alcohol. I find that as the work day winds down, I am looking forward to getting home to my dog. This is kind of profound because I used to look forward to a bloody mary. The push-this-lever-get-a-treat part of my brain is rewiring. My mind is healing! Slowly but surely. It is hard to see progress when I am pacing and anxious or staring at a study that is full of boxes and scattered clothes. But even in those moments, I am not drinking. I am not watching the clock waiting for it to be 5 p.m.so I can go buy a bottle of wine at a respectable hour. That is progress even if it looks and feels ugly.
When I’m in bed at night listening to my sweet furbaby snore at my feet and reading or writing, I think “I am sober” and marvel at how easy it is. Because even if the day was rotten and even if I am scared of who knows what, when I go to sleep sober I feel good about that. I feel like things have to get better even if it takes longer than I would like. I feel free. It is not easy this work of facing things that had built up before I ever started drinking and facing the things I ignored while numbing myself. It is not easy looking around and realizing quite a mess has collected while I was checking out of life. It’s not easy digging out of this clusterfuck. It is not easy trying to sort out how to thrive in a kind of mean world when one is quite sensitive.
But not drinking is remarkably easy…I just don’t do it. I have given my very critical self permission to be imperfect. To be slow. To do what I can when I can. To do nothing if staying sober means coloring in my grown-up color book and watching movies and not doing a damned productive thing all day. Even if all I do today is stay sober, tomorrow I will be able to do some repair work on my life BECAUSE I am sober.
Since I stopped drinking some two plus months ago, I have gotten all my dog’s healthcare needs taken care of. I overcame the embarrassment of taking a dog who looked effing homeless because he hadn’t been groomed in over a year in to be groomed. It sounds stupid but that is personal growth for me. I was terrified I would find out that his teeth were all rotten but I took him to the doggie dentist and it turned out his teeth were perfectly healthy. And now they are sparkly white! I was terrified he had heartworms because I let his rx expire but he does not and he’s back on his preventative.
Now I can take him hiking with me because I’m not hiding him from mosquitoes because I can’t get my shit together long enough to get him Heartguard. In two months of sobriety I have greatly improved the quality of life of my sweet dog who has stuck by me with love and loyalty even though I became a lazy drunk not long after I got him. He is so happy. There are other small improvements but getting right with my dog means the most to me right now. And I’m learning something from the fact that he has forgiven me immediately.
There is a lot of work to do, sometimes I am overwhelmed and sad and regretful and fearful. But I am off the world’s crappiest merry-go-round. I am free to go find other rides. That is the good part.