12 June 2020

16 Years Sober: June 16, 2020


The smallest of notes (ha-ha!) is that June 16th, 2020 marks my 16th year of continuous sobriety, preceded by 8 years of perpetual relapse and 30 years of blackout drinking (50,000 plus drinks really do add up) before that.
That's looking backwards.
I admit it, but this birthday (of sorts) has refreshed my memories.
I could go on and on, but let me delineate a few of my more prominent moments of reflection:
1) What about Covid-19, the protests of racial injustice sparked by George Floyd's death and staggering unemployment? What if I were newly sober today, confronted with greater unpredictability than I've seen in my lifetime? Would I be able to accumulate 16 years of sobriety?
It's an "If Elephants Could Fly" kind of thing, I know, but I'd have to guess, if I were now the person I was when I first got sober, I'd likely have an even harder time of it under these present conditions.
You see, in my addiction, alcohol eventually separated me from anything that did not include more alcohol. In drunken oblivion, around 1996, in a solitary stupor, another nearly empty bottle at my feet, I thought to myself, nearly aloud, this four-word absurdity:
"I am a cup."
It's silly and a little bit painful to admit, but it seemed that the only purpose of my existence had been reduced to drinking, a drinking animal and barely that. I had become an empty container of a man.
"I am a cup" was a twist on the "Hamster Wheel of Addiction." But I was too immobilized to climb aboard that Wheel, so, if you will, fill my cup, fill my cup, please fill my cup.
Today, 16 years of sobriety has given me a certain degree of fortitude and I stand on solid ground. 16 years and one more day, I think I can do, but were this my first day sober, in the world as it is, would likely be a bridge too far.
A drink, too close.
Hope too much to even hope for...
WRONG! Enough of me looking back into a well of self-pity (almost fell in there!). I did it. Under any conditions, including these, you too can do this and I could do this again. Each day we all do it again. Each day we all need help, including me. Please include me. I am not immune. 16 and a day, a day, another day. Each and all.
2) I need my Peeps.
It took me around 5 years to admit to myself that Social Connection is what brought me back to the Human Race. I began to understand that my most profound inspirations were off-shoots of my human experience, refined in isolation, perhaps, but learned and experienced in real time at moments of human connection (including science, literature, music, art and all the humanities).
Gratitude. Gratitude.
3) I'm not so afraid of the distant future, the near future, tomorrow, this moment, now.
Oh, listen...
My air-conditioner just shut off.
Distant sounds seep through the walls.
I hear music playing and I am not so alone now, even in solitude. Human community is all around me. My perceptions are so very present now. I feel more in touch, more human. Through these walls, the distant drumming of music heals and connects me.
Solitude and a sense of belonging are still mine to feel in isolation.
A drink is the most disturbing company I have ever kept.
Gratitude. Gratitude. Gratitude.
4) I have crossed the threshold of my 16th year.
"Welcome Home!" (I welcome myself home here, back on Planet Sober, Planet Earth).
Through these walls even the sound of human music is the music of the spheres. For now, all is sweet music, none my own, and I am home, at last, sweet 16.
P.S. I'm still a cup. Only now, the four-word reality is "Recovery, fill me up!"
"Nothing matters more than that we remain sober because when we remain sober everything matters more."
Passages in quotes are from my first book, All Drinking Aside: The Destruction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction of an Alcoholic Animal. This 17th year ahead involves working on my next book, Becoming Unbroken: Inside Addiction & Beyond Recovery. Inspiration is all around me.
Thank you & you & you & you.
One and All, Thank You!
Sweet 16.