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This is the World

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The Anxiety sits beneath the surface waiting to pounce on me, when I least expect it.

I’ve been sober for 3 days now, but I’m wondering if I even feel comfortable using that terminology. I’m not detoxing, I don’t have sugar cravings, but my head does feel clearer, and I feel lighter. Again, I wish there was a book for me, a program that my sobriety fit inside.

I’ve been told a few times over the last few days, how important this work I am doing is, which feels amazing. Important work… isn’t that what we all strive for? But at the same time, I’m hesitant to accept the compliments with anything but a nod. I don’t want my ego to overrule me like it has before. I’d rather stay in the shadows, behind this computer screen, and type.

Each morning, we make a choice of how we want to spend the following hours. I’ve tried to have practices which ensure a little more calmness while I’m still wiping the sleep out of my eyes. I am not good at keeping a routine though. Even, the rituals of keeping a daily gratitude list and working through my current 100 Day Project (a project I’ve pledged to over the next 100 days, I’m on day 60 today) happen throughout the day, at various times, usually when the tv is on. I’m imperfect. Compared to others who boast about their morning routines, I feel, well, inadequate. I don’t have the rooms, I don’t have a tribe, I just have this writing: my words, this space, three days of sobriety. It doesn’t feel like much, but I know it is. I also know that if I want any of the things I just mentioned, I have to make them happen. Manifestation is real, I’ve seen it work with my own eyes.

There are promises made in the rooms of A.A.– if you keep coming back miracles will happen. I’m making me own promises right here. If I keep writing, coffee-less, half-asleep, words filling this blank space, I will be okay today. A promise to get me through this morning to tonight feels… well, promising. I’m eager to keep using this space as a way to explore my own drinking habits as well as begin a conversation that I feel is way overdue: grey area drinking exists for us. I say us because I know that if you’re reading this blog, it’s possible drinking has affected you in some way, even if it’s just through another person or one particular night ten years ago. We make the rules here. The only steps are to continue to be honest with yourself.

My mom comes into town today. Last time she was here, I drank. I should mention my mom has been sober for going on four years, as has my younger brother. I used to feel so many things about how they maintained their sobriety, but I’m realizing as I write these words that the only thing I feel is grateful. We can all be present today. It doesn’t matter how we got there, the important part is that we are here, right now, clearheaded, fierce-eyed, and full of love.

If today you were to do something sober you usually do with a drink in hand, maybe try to replace it with a glass of fizzy water and a lime. Let me know how it goes. I know it’s scary. Feel the fear. Feel all the feelings that come with letting go of an easy button like alcohol. It’s going to be awkward. It’s going to be beautiful. This I promise you.

My anxiety lives right under the center part of my chest. If I press hard enough I feel like I can feel it. It forces me to pause in a day, yawn, feel overly exhausted and overwhelmed by the prospective of another day. That’s okay with me. Living is exhausting. Just because no one admits to that, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Just being here, writing these words, makes me fall into a kind of meditation. My fingers on the keys, my feet flat on the floor (which no matter how many times I do it and then feel it, never ceases to me amaze me), my eyes slightly distracted by the morning light, my mind buzzing with a to-do list of errands and rituals. Those things cease to matter as my word count moves up. Those things only matter as soon as I press “publish.” I’m already liking this space, this opportunity to use the first hour of my day, writing.

Drinking made everything seem more manageable, but what if writing does the same for me? I could have a drink and suddenly, my anxiety slipped below the surface once more. My anxiety doesn’t do that with writing, but it’s like I’m exercising my demons, getting everything onto the page and out of my body, flushing myself from the inside out, word vomiting right here, sharing it with you, so that afterwards I can breathe and go about my day not thinking about my next drink, not craving a way to disassociate from body and mind.

My friend Holly Whitaker is a genius at doing this sobriety thing her own way and on her own terms. This morning she posted a quote to Instagram that really resonated both with me and with what I’m trying to accomplish right here, right now.

We all begin the process before we are ready, before we are strong enough, before we know enough: we begin a dialogue with thoughts and feelings that both tickle and thunder within us. We respond before we know how to speak the language, before we know all the answers, and before we know exactly to whom we are speaking.

~Clarissa Pinkoal Estes

Well, yeah. This is me trying to find my words, even if I don’t have all of them. This is me trying to say, “Hey, something isn’t right here and I want to get to the bottom of it.” This is my bottom, but this is also my top. As Mary Oliver writes in her book-length poem,¬†The Leaf and The Cloud:

Do you think the cutting is an ending,

and not, also a beginning?

This is the world.

It is. And we are the witnesses, but also the doers: beginning and ending, beginning again.

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