That’s how I’ve felt the past few days. I want to write, but I feel a sense of exhaustion about trying to record the events of the past few days. I’ve been keeping my head down, trudging forward and keeping my eye on my first big goal, which will be accomplished tomorrow: 30 days!! I haven’t seen that number since sometime last year when I made it to 32. 32 is my all-time record, from age 17 to now, at 37. 20 years of never stringing together more than one month… it seems impossible that this is true, and yet I can’t remember a time when I would have. I never thought there was a real problem until age 27. Actually now that I think of it, though, I may have compiled a month or two or three at that age. I did have a phase of really trying to cut way back/clean up. But I don’t remember counting days or taking note of how long it had been… it simply wasn’t a part of my life for a little while, as I had been making an effort to live a bit healthier and I was dating someone who was into fitness and didn’t drink.
Because, I was always a master chameleon. Not really knowing who I was, I was pretty good at adopting whatever characteristics whoever I was dating found attractive. I lived for that approval. Most relationships, drinking made this morphing process feel totally natural. One thing that makes this sobriety thing easier for me now, is that I finally AM in a relationship where I feel authentic, loved, and whole. It makes a huge difference to my ability to not feel so exposed and raw… I’m quite sure I couldn’t have done this in previous relationships where I was so desperately trying to make things work that were never meant to be.
The past few days have been rough but also have shown a big, bright spotlight on my emotional stability. I am shocked at how healthily I’ve been able to process things that normally would have me hysterical. Now, being sober, it’s so much easier to take a few breaths, assess the situation, go for a walk, think rationally about how to handle it. Who knew? For example, I had an incident the other day, after driving home through stressful traffic, where my dog (she’s a Great Dane) jumped out of my car without her leash when we got home — normally okay, but she for some reason has a thing about my neighbor and she charged right toward her, running and barking and then jumping around her and growling… it was awful!! Our neighbor is like the cutest, classiest, nicest elderly woman who has been quite patient with our dog in the past, trying to befriend her on several occasions. And our dog is such a big baby, not aggressive at all except with this woman she gets weird! I don’t think she would actually hurt her, but at the same time I know she’s still a dog and anything can happen. So I’m watching in horror and holding our other dog back, yelling for the dog to come back and she’s not, and it seemed to go on forever but it was probably in reality just a few seconds.
I got the dogs in the house and yelled out how sorry I was. I reprimanded the dog and then had to steady myself for a few minutes; I was totally shook up, my heart was racing, and I felt like such a jerk for having let her off the leash even though she is normally trustworthy. I debated for a few minutes what to do; this neighbor is overly gracious about the situation but she certainly could have called and reported it or just generally made some sort of a scene. Me being normally terrified of confrontation, I was sure that in my drinking life, I would have just let it lie and not done anything else. But I calmed myself down and did the right thing by going next door and checking on her to make sure she was alright. She was shook up and I assured her I would be more careful. We ended up having a nice chat and I felt so much better having apologized and being able to assure her that I would take it seriously and prevent further incidents.
I don’t know why this felt so significant except that I noticed this: Although I feel I’m hiding a bit in sobriety, I’m not actually hiding from the things that matter. This mattered. And this, I would have hid from had I been nursing a hangover and feeling all paranoid and shaky. Instead, I did the right thing. I’m not hiding from real life. I’m only hiding from my previous drinking life and that’s okay. That life isn’t serving me. This is, because I left a bad situation feeling good about my ability to rectify it.
30 days tomorrow!!!