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Have I Forgotten What It’s Like to be New to Sobriety?

Have I Forgotten What It’s Like to be New to Sobriety?

Have I Forgotten What It’s Like to be New to Sobriety?

I was walking with someone new to recovery this week. My mother gave me a pink canister of pepper spray for Easter, so I feel safer early morning Grand Rapids. We start out at dawn and some of the back streets are dark.

 

Bitter Pill to Suck On…

There is a look people have when they first get sober. Contemplative, as if they are harkening back to the “good ole drinking days.” Or thinking long and hard about a life without the one thing that has fully occupied them for so long. In my case it was top-of-mind, an affectation like a walking stick or a smoking jacket that I wore for twenty years.

 

When you think about it, that’s a bitter pill to suck on. I actually had people ask me what I’d “be like” when I said I was going to quit drinking. As if my biting wit was going to go down the drain with the last of the booze in the cupboard.  As if wine was a part of my personality. And when I started writing this blog a couple of years ago, I couldn’t find a single photo of me without my usual prop – a wine glass spilling chard over the edge – and a hazy smile…

 

Empathy thy name is Mare…

If I were being honest, I’d have to say I have forgotten a lot of the edginess and unpredictability of early recovery. I am reminded daily, as I work at an Addiction Treatment Center, but I haven’t felt the desire to get drunk for a while. Nor have I had the punch-in-the-gut triggers I used to get at the weirdest times. A snippet of a song, an airport, a photo of the azure Bahamas, passing a familiar restaurant and reading the word “BAR” on the marque, a squirrel running into the road in front of my car. Bam! Drink! I can TASTE it! Who would know?

 

Even my old standby, drinking stories are starting to feel like someone else’s disasters.

 

So, how do I remain empathetic while wanting to put the negative aspects of  addiction behind me?

 

TELL me how you feel while we’re walking, grasshopper. It’s a beautiful morning and I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be new to recovery…

Kindness and a bit of superstition

As many times as I hear it and understand the positive spin, I do not buy the statement “you are not your addiction.” So much of what I am now is because of my addiction. In spite of my alcoholism. I am a totally different person now – a better person. And as much as I crow about my paucity of emotional triggers, I am a bit superstitious of those out-of-the-blue cravings I used to get… I kind of am my addiction – in a good way, if that makes sense…

 

So, to answer my own question, feeling “with” someone does not require active sensation. It does not demand that I crave alcohol. It only requires kindness and the ability to remember enough about how it felt to be new to sobriety, to understand its unique demands.

 

Today I’m not drinking because I am my addiction (in a good way)…

 

How come you’re not drinking?

 

Comments (4)

  1. Who the hell has time to drink?
    Apr 28, 2017

    As usual, too busy to drink. Just returned from many months in Mexico, and our
    “club” meetings were normally just 3 or 4 people…sometimes 5, rarely 6. Back to busy NY state meetings, 12 to 35 folks. Lots of anniversarys. Happy to see YOUNG people getting hold of their lives in their 20’s….hope to hell they get to that 30 and 35 year anniversary date. Sober is sensational.

    • tim s
      Apr 28, 2017

      Welcome back. Curious: Were your small meetings English or Spanish?

    • Marilyn
      Marilyn
      May 1, 2017

      Welcome home.

      🙂
      M

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