“It is normal to give away a little of one’s life in order not to lose it all.”
April 29, 2013
“I’ve been rethinking California. I don’t want to live in fear of a bad “relationship” that I’m not even in, and I don’t want to live in fear of a drinking problem I may not have…I just want to live.
I want to make money to travel. The ranch = funding for my passport. It’s not backwards, it’s just going back so I can move forward.” (The ranch = the pot farm.)
Today: Day 326
The entry above was written seven months ago, at three months sober. Reading passages like this make me smile, because I feel like I’m in on a secret that my past self didn’t know. The writing reveals notions that were oblivious to me then; and I’m sure in months when I read this, I’ll see what’s oblivious to me now.
If I could go back in time and tell myself what I know now, I wouldn’t; the lessons I’ve learned have been hard earned. I feel a confident sense of accomplishment reading old thoughts, like, “I need money,” or “I don’t want to live in fear.”
I was living in fear, especially of what others thought. My insecurities were so intensely binding because everyone surely had the same opinion of myself as I did. If I felt stupid, they thought I was stupid, too. I felt ugly, therefore everyone else saw me as ugly, too. When I felt isolated, it was because no one was letting me in…It’s a huge relief to know that the world doesn’t revolve around me.
My fear of financial unsustainability was pretty sad, to be frank. The amount of money in my pocket determined my worth because I couldn’t find valuation anywhere else, certainly not from my “relationship.” The man in my life used me like a doormat and I made it easy; his negative attention was better than his indifference. The weight of my importance was weighed by everyone but myself.
In the “grand scheme of things,” (I don’t really like that phrase) ten months can be considered the blink of an eye, but the past 10 months have been the most literal a “journey” has ever felt to me, and it’s been by physically staying in one place.
My mind, on the other hand, has come light years further. Recently I haven’t been bound by negativity, and I’m less afraid of the “uncomfortables.” (Scientific term there). I have unguarded moments all the time, and they’re okay. I haven’t fallen apart at change or lost my mind in monotony. I’ve coped at the loss of life; I’ve gotten better at recognizing which lives I need to walk out of. I respect myself by doing estimable acts. I’ve also learned that my self-development comes most from helping other people, which is the backbone of my growth and destroying self-centeredness.
I hope the old Faith doesn’t hijack my brain, and I know it’s possible. I’ve learned these lessons but I know I can forget as soon as tomorrow. My recovery relies on living in faith, not fear. Staying sober means knowing that I’ll never stop learning, that I need to keep going to meetings, help others, ask for help, and writing down where I am on the “journey.”
I wrote this around 4am:
It’s been one of those sleepless nights. Instead of forcing my eyes to stay closed, I did what anyone would do–logged onto Facebook. (Hah.) Through the social grape vine I was sad to be informed that a friend from the past died a few days ago. He overdosed.
When I failed out of college freshman year, my punishment was a little backwards—I got to enroll in the National Outdoor Leadership School, (NOLS). My Dad was a NOLSee back in the 70’s when the program was just taking flight. Back then, the expeditions were limited to its base, in Lander, Wyoming. Dad said his old-school instructor hiked the bouldery mountains in cowboy boots. By the time I got there, NOLS had expanded its courses worldwide. I chose destination Mexico.
In 2006 NOLS was a perfect place for a kid like me…it was sort of a rehab…but freer, masked as a very expensive camping trip. Nothing about NOLS suggests it as a rehabilitation program, but 11 out of my 12 classmates were coming off some form of substance. (I’d been smoking weed almost every single day from 2003-2007; that’s over 1,000 days of being high, ew.)
Unbeknownst to me, the process of abruptly abstaining from drugs and alcohol the body goes through what is called “detox.” Imagine 11 troubled nineteen-year-olds detoxing in the wilderness. Crazy town.
Over the course of 78 days my classmates and I came to know each other in every heartwarmingly good and infuriatingly bad way possible. Anyway…For what would have been my sophomore year, I went to Baja, Mexico.
My friend who passed away was a member of FSB. (Fall Semester Baja). I was in “Group 1” and he was in “Group 2.” We saw each other in passing, at re-rations, and at breaks on the beach, where we’d swap stories of whale sharks, Mexican federales, and a new found love for banana chips.
My friend had that light that you hope to see in everyone, and he didn’t have to dig deep to find it. He made every moment feel like the best moment. He was compassionate, talented, and had no business dying.
When I saw the RIP’s and tributes on Facebook, I started to cry. It’s been years since we last spoke, but its impossible to forget someone with such infectious positivity. He almost literally glowed. He was a true-blue surfer and I thought perhaps he died doing what he loved. After reading his obituary it was revealed that he OD’d on heroin, and had been struggling with dope addiction for years. It makes me feel like I know him even better, even though now he’s gone. I wrote to him through the words of Einstein — ‘Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.’
Friends wrote, “You’re finally free.”
I’ve made a lot of progress over the past 10 months…I don’t blow a gasket at drivers going the speed limit or go ballistic in grocery stores. I don’t want cocaine when I see salt. I have a job I love and am becoming a functional member of society. I even pay taxes.
I have not, however, learned restraint of tongue and pen…
Tonight I was at particularly moving meeting for newbies. The topic was triggers during the holidays, and my fellow beginners were honest and poignant. There were a number of people who I wanted to try and offer some solution to, having been there myself quite recently. I was really listening to each share, but someone in the back of the meeting kept dropping something clamorously on the wood floor. It sounded like a frying pan falling on a metal bouncy trampoline.
For the 10 millionth time (okay maybe 8th time) the disruption came again, this time in the middle of my share; just when I was getting to some tender shit. The thing dropped and I pivoted in my chair, whipped my head toward the back of the room and said/yelled a little, “What the FUCK is that?!”
To my chagrin, it was some girl knitting. She kept losing grip of the knitting apparatus thingy. I awkwardly regained composure, apologized to her and the rest of the large room (thank God they were familiar faces), and tried to spew something about a spiritual Christmas before passing. In my defense, it was a really really obnoxious noise. What was she doing back there, anyway? Combat knitting?
She was the last to raise her hand and of course shared about dying puppies and job loss. Great.
Maybe I was assembled without a pause button, and that’s why I find myself in so many awkward situations. A few months ago a guy asked me if I wanted to grab a beer. Instead of saying, “I don’t drink,” or “maybe coffee instead,” I said, “How about apple juice?”
His response: “See ya.”
Obviously someone who can’t hang with juice boxes isn’t for me, but the point is…I dunno, there’s a point in here somewhere.
“If you have one foot on yesterday, and one foot on tomorrow, then you’re pissing on today.”
This quote seems to be an AA favorite. I interpret it in two ways:
For the first five months of sobriety my feet were ungrounded. It was impossible to stay present; all I could think about was my directionless future, and the security of going back to where I came from. Having no idea whom the eff I was, why I was always so depressed, and whether or not I was actually an alcoholic, my thoughts were constantly neurotically ricocheting off the walls in my brain. To make things easier, (aka 1,000 times more complicated), I told lies.
I told lies to my friends in California, and said that I was in AA because it was that or a DUI; I told them I thought it was stupid and that I would be back. I told lies to my friends in Connecticut, saying I wouldn’t go to California because I knew I needed AA. Everything was a contradicting clusterf*ck. I guess the trouble was I believed all of my own bullshit, because I truly couldn’t stay put long enough to make a decision.
Indecision was killing the “today’s.” It wasn’t until I finally went with my gut, surrendered to the program, and jumped with both feet, that I began enjoying the present.
I need decent chunks of time for my blog posts, which I haven’t been able to find until now. Writing for me is like exercise, and I’m out of shape creatively. (Bear with me.) The good news is I’m in shape spiritually.
Spending nearly three weeks in Argentina for my best friend’s wedding was…como si dice…fantastico? Life changing? Super cool? I can’t find the words in English or in Spanish to describe the past twenty days.
My flight got in Tuesday morning and I’ve been to a meeting here in Connecticut everyday since. At a speaker meeting last night someone said, “The first year of sobriety lays your foundation for the life ahead.”
There’s no way I can make promises that I’ll never drink again, but by staying clean in a country abounds with wine, cocaine, and discothèques, my foundation does feel stronger than before. Ten months in AA has taught me that cockiness is a dangerous sentiment; I’m wary of over boldness, but I don’t want to deny or forget the growth through my experiences abroad.
The people who I traveled with taught me about myself through their openness, and supported me without question. Gratitude from their behavior alone was enough to make me see the bigger picture…whatever that is. Maybe the “bigger picture” to me is The Promises. All the bullshit’s disintegrating and the good shit is emerging. My outlook is changing.
I was able to help everyday; uselessness disappeared. I lost interest in myself; remembering the priority in my life is to help others. I found my attitude shifting and uneasiness disappearing. There were a few times when I wanted to retreat during events, but for the most part I’d stick it out long enough to enjoy company and think, holy shit! I’m having a conversation!
Despite seeing the parties, the flowing wine, the free drinks and dozens of opportunities to rage, I want all of them less. I have come back from Argentina with more self-assuredness than when I arrived, and 100% certainty that I had an amazing time because I didn’t waste one minute disconnecting from reality with drugs and alcohol.
Que freakin’ bueno.