I admit it – this was my thinking initially. People who were sober, or simply not drinking, were a mystery to me. And obviously, they must be dull. What kind of life would they lead?! Drinking was a warm cushion to celebrate with, gossip over, dance the night away with, commiserate to. Most pinnacle moments or emotions involved at least a drink or two. Alcohol made me happy, confident and there was no better feeling than a warm buzz.
Until, suddenly, it wasn’t anymore. And the sweet intoxicating nectar became a poison, meaning my nights now involved black outs, tears, many an ugly scene and words spat that could never be unsaid. Vomit, piss, tears, a mess of bodily fluids. I was tumbling down the rabbit hole, and so deep I couldn’t see the way out. I knew I’d fall further, but I didn’t know how far away my rock bottom was.
While I was in active addiction, people who could go about their daily lives without needing to drink were perplexing to me. An absolute mystery. And in early sobriety, perhaps more so. I hadn’t realised the full extent of its hold over me, it realised that my perception of alcohol and drinking was beyond warped. How could people go to a bar and order a lime and soda so naturally? How could people be thrilled to meet and chat over coffee, rather than wine? How did people not drink at least a bottle of wine with their meal at a restaurant?! These things were infathamable to me. I had more chance of understanding quantum physics, than the sort of thought process these dullards had.
Today, I’m happy to not drink, and know what situations I can handle and which ones I need to avoid. I barely think of it, and I can socialise with relative confidence (with a sober plan in case I struggle of course). I realise that obsessing over alcohol – whether it be the time to drink, the units measured, or how to limit my drinking to appear ‘normal’ – is not a usual way to look at life. And that waking with a daily hangover and hazy recollections of every evening is not the ideal lifestyle of a normal drinker either.
But in early sobriety too, I figured that once I had figured my sobriety out (physical and emotional) that life would be a sea of calm and I would instinctively know how to handle its difficulties, because, you know, serenity. I would glide through antagonising situations with a beatific smile on my face, and graciously always be the better person. I would instinctively know the right way to be, say, behave, even when provoked.
Nope. Life is still hard, I can still be an unreasonable twat, and my shit still stinks. Today has been a truly testing day, aemotional rollercoaster of manipulation and I still barely know how to hold myself. I lack the instinct to do the right thing, and sometimes do a) the worst thing because I’ve focussed on the wrong side of a problem or b) nothing at all, which can sometimes be worse than a bad reaction.
I guess what I’m trying to say is – sober is not sombre, but it’s also not always rainbows or butterflies. And it’s not supposed to be, because that’s LIFE. Everyone faces challenges, adversity and hideous situations at times, as well as moments of heart stopping moments of joy, where your cheeks hurt from how wide you’re smiling. If you get sober expecting to see miracles after, you need to remember that the gift of sobriety is your miracle.
Am I a better person now, overall? I think so. I have better relationships now, and my priorities are obviously shifted back to where they always should have been. I can be relied upon, generally, and I’m less of a flake. I’m more honest and open.
But life is still a struggle at times, as it is for us all, addicts or not. I’m just glad that today, I won’t use this tough day as a reason to justify a drink.