Sobriety out of Spite
Today marks 101 days of sobriety, and I’m still not really sure how I feel about it...
I never thought that sobriety would be a priority in my life,
and in many ways I'm surprised that I haven't caved.
In comparison to my last post, which dove into the specifics and details of my stay at NIH.
I plan on maintaining more of a stream of consciousness with this one. Picking apart the aspects of how I came to terms with prioritizing sobriety. I got some feedback on my last post, some comments that it was too long, or that some folks didn't know where to begin. With that being said, my aim is to keep this post much more concise and to the point.
I also want to add, as a precursor, that I poured a lot of deep feelings into this post. I assure you that I am fine, and I have no thoughts of harming myself or others.
Before getting into it, I just want to make clear, that maintaining "Sobriety out of Spite" isn't aimed at any person individually. I've had some folks ask me about who I'm angry at.
I'm not mad at anyone really. I'm just mad.
We live in such a confusing world. Filled with pitfalls and schemes everywhere we turn.
So many lies, so much hypocrisy.
It's so easy to get lost in all of it.
There's an overabundance of fear, and not enough talk about resolution.
Unless that is, you offer to pay the bill.
We live in a time where profits take priority over people.
It's too easy these days to lose sight of what's truly important.
And I think that in the process of all of this,
We've lost too much of ourselves along the way.
for that, I am spiteful.
As a labelled alcoholic, someone who "has a disease" and cannot curb the urge to drink without some kind of help. Statistics show that I should've lapsed by now.
Especially since I live on my own, within walking distance from many bars and nightlife. I'm single, I don't really have anybody nearby who checks in on me or holds me accountable. I don't have many sober friends, nor do I actively participate in any sober communities. In addition, I've worked the alcohol industry for a decade. I still frequent a lot of my favorite bars and love to talk cocktail ideas with my bartending friends. I'm still very much interested in the local beer and wine scene. A scene that I worked so hard to get a foothold in. I still get offered free drinks when I go out, and in a lot of ways, I still miss it.
So, how is it that the "recovering alcoholic" has been able to resist all of this temptation?
Well... Obviously my time at NIH was a big help. I was very fortunate to have had that opportunity, and I cannot disregard how much of a difference that it has made. Although I did not agree with everything that they had to say, there is no doubt in my mind that I would not have remained sober for this long without having participated in that study. Now with that being said, I don't think it was absolutely necessary that I participated. I also don't think that it's absolutely necessary for me to maintain sobriety.
So then... why am I still sober?
This is a question that has taken me a long time to come to terms with.
I came to the decision to commit to sobriety during my last few days at NIH.
Something clicked with me during our last group psychiatry session, it was actually the only session I had with that psychiatrist in particular.
I don't remember what was said exactly. But I will never forget how I felt in that moment.
I felt as though I'd been misunderstood. For so long that it hurt.
Finally, here's someone who understands, sympathizes, and validates what I had been going through.
I wish I had the opportunity to spend more time talking with her. But given the circumstance we only had about 20 minutes to talk.
After giving her a brief overview of my viewpoints and life events, she turned to me and asked:
"Do you think you're an alcoholic?"
to which I replied:
"no, I honestly don't think I am"
So naturally, why on earth was I even there to begin with?
I think that was the question that was on everyone's mind at that moment.
We've all spent about a month with each other at this point. We all knew each other's stories.
Hell, I wouldn't have made it into the program if I didn't fit the criteria of what is considered to be an alcoholic.
During my entire stay I never actually admitted that I was an alcoholic, I don't remember anyone admitting that, now that I think about it.
we never sat in a circle and did the whole "I'm so and so and I'm an alcoholic" ritual.
But they definitely let us now, day after day, that we were all alcoholics, and that we all had a disease. It was obvious that we were all in that study for a reason.
Some of us were much worse off than others.
But at the end of the day we'd all be lying to ourselves if we didn't want a good stiff drink.
I mean really, most people do. That's why it's one of the world's most profitable industries.
Now, it's clear to me that I have struggled with my drinking in the past.
Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has their vices. Nobody's perfect.
I'm still confused as to how my habits were acceptable to some, and unacceptable to others.
I think that's a very blurry line that a lot of folks start to teeter on at some point.
Maybe I'm wrong about that.
But from where I'm coming from, this seems to be a pretty big topic of conversation.
I know for a fact that I crossed that line many years ago, I had hit rock bottom back in 2016, and since then I had gotten a lot better.
So then, what brought me to this point?
What made me so special?
What was at the head of this new downward spiral?
The answer that I found:
Spite and Resentment
Spite and resentment towards who?
No one in particular really.
I'm just so sick of it all..
I spent close to 10 years holding onto a special kind of hatred.
A hatred so vile and putrid and shameful.
I hated myself.
I hated where I came from. I hated my privileges.
I hated my education.
I hated how I would never be good enough.
I hated how I should've been more
I hated how I wanted to be less
I hated my circumstances.
I hated the success of others. I especially hated those who didn't deserve it.
I hated how some had it so much easier.
I hated how others had it so much worse.
I hated my country. I hated my president.
I hated our failing school system. I still hate Betsy DeVos
I hated the shootings. I hated the violence.
I hated how nothing was getting better.
I hated the racism. I hated the bigotry.
I hated money. I hated politics.
I hated being used and played by a system fueled by hatred.
I hated how everything is so fake these days.
I hated being lied to. I hated not knowing what to do about it.
I hated being scared. I hated being tamed.
I hated being the person I was becoming.
I hated leaving the person I no longer was.
I hated my subdued state of emotion.
I hated being hospitalized.
I hated my diagnosis.
I hated being on lithium.
I hated the stigma that went along with all of it.
I hated paying for my psychiatrist.
I hated needing health insurance.
I hated how other people would never know what it's like.
I hated how people pretended to anyway.
I hated how I was misunderstood.
I hated that I was no longer doing what I loved.
I hated how I didn't know how to explain myself.
I hated how I lost everything.
I hated how I was hiding.
I hated that I was filled with so much hatred.
Where did all of that hatred go?
To the bottom of the bottle it seems.
I lived in what felt like a constant stream of negative self talk. Alcohol helped tune it out. It was a distraction. It helped me forget. It gave me a sense of relief. It gave me a break. It helped me internalize a lot of these feelings and put them aside for another day. Which, In the end, I learned was a terrible, terrible thing to do.
If I was in good company then there was rarely a problem. But once someone or something rubbed me the wrong way, my demons would begin to surface.
I said some pretty hurtful things when they did. Things that would be much better to talk about in a therapist's office... But, that's what happens when you bottle things up for so long. It comes back with a vengeance.
I never wished to take those feelings out on other people.
No one deserves that, and doing so doesn't help anything.
So, in turn, I took it a lot of it out on myself. Keeping a lot of these emotions hidden.
Trying to gloss over the hardship, in hopes that one day it would just magically get better.
I was a mess to deal with, for longer than I'd like to admit, and I'm sorry to everyone that I've hurt along the way. I'm incredibly thankful to those who did their best to stick it through.
In a lot of ways, I really didn't deserve it.
It's no mystery that alcohol is a depressant, as well as an addictive substance.
Over time, the brain tricks the body into thinking alcohol is food.
That consuming it is actually giving you some kind of vital substance, false sustenance.
There's a myth out there about maintaining a tolerance.
In reality there isn't much truth to that.
I definitely fed into that belief for a long while though.
I've had more mornings than I can count,
waking up and having no recollection of what happened the night before.
Why are my clothes all wet?
Shit, I pissed myself again?
I really need to stay dry tonight
Oh, one shot won't hurt.
what's the point anyway?
Rinse and repeat.
A big part of me didn't think I'd make it pass the age of 27.
There's a lot of superstition involved with that. IYKYK.
A part of me legitimately wanted to die with all of these feelings unresolved.
In a lot of ways that would've been a lot easier. Growing up isn't for wimps.
I'm not going to go deep into my spiritual beliefs, I'll save that for another day.
But I do believe that everything happens for a reason,
and I think I came back to life at the right time.
I can now mean it when I say that I'm incredibly happy to be alive.
For a long time I tried to drink away all of this spite and resentment.
In the end, I found that this habit was just prolonging my suffering.
It was leading me nowhere, and I guess I finally just got sick of it.
Instead of feeding the beast, why not use these dark and powerful emotions to do some good? It took me 10 years to love myself again...
As mentioned in my last post, I had a lot of doubts of maintaining sobriety post treatment. In fact, there were plenty of moments where I was scheming on where I'd get my first beer as soon as I got home. I simply didn't want to give up my social drinking life. It had become such a hobby, and so ingrained, that it didn't really feel like an option at the time.
I would think to myself: "I'm still young, I still have some wild years left in me, I'm finally free to do what I like. Why would I want to give up something that I enjoyed so much and also brought such sense of comfort and community?"
Discussing these thoughts during our group therapy sessions provided a lot of insight. Especially after hearing what many of the other patients had been through. But above all else, I truly think that just having a month to take a step back and reflect provided a lot of clarity. I can't even remember the last time I had a month to just take it easy and relax. I think that alone was very therapeutic, and allowed me the time to just think these things through. Along with being contained in an environment where I couldn't get my hands on any alcohol, even if I really wanted to.
Now that a few months have passed, I really don’t think about it that much. At least not on the day to day like I used to. Every now and again I’ll look at my sobriety clock and be surprised at how much time has passed. But it’s not like a token, or an AA chip, that I keep near and dear as a comfort item. It’s more to just keep record of how much time has passed, and help reflect on what has been accomplished in this new chapter of my life. If one thing is for certain, I’ve definitely gotten a lot more done during these past 100 days without drinking than I would have if I was still on the sauce.
This state of contentment didn’t come overnight. The first couple of weekends took some getting used to. I didn’t really have any plans after getting back from the hospital, so I spent a lot of time going on long walks. We’re very fortunate to have a lot of parks and trails in the Richmond area, and it’s a very pedestrian friendly city (for the most part). Naturally, I’d walk past restaurants and bars full of people enjoying their nights out. After living in any city for a period of time you get accustomed to your local hangs. But now that I’m no longer drinking I felt a little empty at first. Like, what do I do with all of this free time? What is there to do in Richmond that doesn’t involve going into an establishment that serves alcohol? Where am I going to meet people?
I had plenty of other things that I could focus on, but what was I going to do to take the edge out of my day? this took some time to figure out, and I’m still experimenting with different ways to manage my schedule and see what works with me. I will admit, I was kind of bitter at first. Feeling as though a big part of my identity was gone. Which is pretty sad when you really think about it.
Alcohol has always been such an available and accessible vice, It’s practically everywhere you look. I’m sure everyone can relate, growing up and watching the adults drink their beer and wine while the kids had sodas and sparkling apple juice. Or buying your first case of PBR to bring to a college party. Late night runs to 7/11 before they lock their beer fridges at midnight. Last call at your favorite bar, where your favorite bartender lets you stick around a little longer as they close up shop. It’s all just a part of the culture, especially here in RVA.
I can say with confidence that I don’t miss those groggy mornings, which followed unremembered nights. Or the constant weight of shame that burdened my conscience. Knowing that I was not only pissing away my money, but also wasting a lot of precious time. Which I knew I could’ve been putting to better use. It's incredibly freeing to be able to walk down the street now, without having the urge to duck into a bar for a quick fix. That was a big realization that I made in the first few weeks of being back. It’s also nice to be able to drive at any time of day.
Clarity is truly a gift, but along with it comes a lot of hard truths that need to be faced. Without the fixation of drinking, I'm left to sit with a lot of these thoughts and emotions.
Writing them down has proven to be extremely helpful. I think that will probably be what my next post is about. But we'll see where inspiration strikes next...
That's all I have for today.
Thank you for taking the time to read, as always.
With all of this regained focus I have some projects coming out soon, so stay posted.
I don't wanna give anything away... But I'm pretty excited about what's to come :)
Also, a gentle reminder. I have a little bit of work starting to trickle in, but I'm still unemployed for the most part. I'm very very close to being completely broke, so if you have anything to spare, or any leads, that would be much appreciated. I'm not a fan of handouts, but at this point I could use anything I can get. Any and all forms of help would be greatly appreciated at this time. Bless.
Until next time:
Be well, Carpe Diem, and I hope that you have the chance to enjoy this crisp Fall weather as much as I am.