I’m shocked I’ve neglected this blog for two months. It doesn’t seem that long since I’ve written.
There was indeed a change in the job situation I wrote about last. The incremental change is that I have gone part-time, which means I am spending half the time in that toxic environment and more time with myself and my family. It’s financially stressful, but emotionally healthy – so it’s ideal.
I thought that once this change of job status took place, my anxiety and stress problems would be resolved. This is a ridiculous notion and I should have known better, as I have fallen into this trap before. But there you have it: I thought once I got the job thing sorted out, I would be walking around in a state of bliss and harmony. (Spoiler alert: this did not occur.)
A new truth to me is this: I can have my entire life sorted out and I am still going to be anxious and fearful. I can be sober and activley engaged as a parent/partner/friend/daughter/sister/employee/citizen and still feel anxious and fearful.
I can have all my shit in a pile and still be rocked by uncertainty.
This is true because, it turns out, I am human and I live with other humans. And no matter what sober and thoughtful tools I develop, I will always be human and live with other humans.
And humans are messy. The level of mess varies – but we are always messy. And it is the mess of being human that makes me anxious and fearful. That mess is FREE WILL. And free will is the reason we can drink and sabotage our relationships, or choose not to. We can beat up our animals or rescue them. We can treat the Earth like an ashtray or pick up after ourselves.
Free will is the way the system works. It does not matter how I feel about the system. The rules of the system don’t change because I did.
And so this brings me to the Two Reasons I Am Staying Sober:
1. Drinking brings more anxiety and fear into my life. While I cannot be free of these demons entirely, I can mitigate my circumstances to give myself a fighting chance. I used to think drinking could help soften the blow of being human and help me tolerate the mess of life. Sometimes I still think this. But more often I think, No. So, while I am not leaning into the mess and breathing it in (like certain Buddhist nuns recommend), I am at least living parallel with the mess. I’m not looking at it full frontal, but I am not hiding from it either. That’s about all I can stomach right now.
2. My sister. My sister is a fully-blossmed alcoholic. To compare our drinking is to compare apples to oranges. I just dabbled in alcoholism with my silly jelly jars and hangovers, but my sister is the real deal: two bottles a night and the domestic wreckage to prove it. Many, many times I compare myself to my sister and think: 1) I don’t really have a problem with alcohol and 2) I don’t want to be anything like her.
And here is where I bring it home to you, sober blog reader. Because I bet you’ve thought this, too. I bet you’ve compared yourself to other drinkers and thought “nope, I don’t have a problem like they do. And I don’t want to be anything like them.”
I’ve not only thought this about my sister, but I have also thought it about the dozens and dozens of alcoholics I’ve listened to at AA meetings. And those alcoholics are a gift to me: a glimpse of a possible future that I wouldn’t want for all the jelly jars in the world.
I dodged a bullet last December when I quit drinking my measly one bottle of wine a night and went to an AA meeting. And instead of spending time wondering how much damage that bullet really could have done to me, I just need to go to another meeting and hear another story and then make my grateful way home to my house – full of messy humans.