It’s funny. I have been writing for so long now, here and everywhere else, that I can’t not write. I thought I could, which is funny.
It’s quiet here, the world is white again. A friend just sent me a link to a story about sobriety, which made think about my own story and what it felt like when I woke up on June 23, 2011 and walked into a new world, one without wine or beer, which are really hard to avoid and tremendously seductive here in our booze-crazed culture. I had loved those drinks and others dearly until that day and was more than a wee bit terrified to wonder what my life would be like or who I would be without them.
One time a waitress mistakenly brought me a mojito with rum in it, which was really funny because I was out having a fancy dinner with my love, celebrating one year of sobriety. I took a sip and burst into tears when I realized what had happened. That first year was a long one and I was so fucking proud of what I had accomplished. The sip didn’t undo anything, of course, but for a few minutes my little celebration bubble was burst.
I haven’t had a drink now for almost eight years though I’ve wanted a drink a hundred million times.
I have watched people drink too much and become idiots. I have been on the receiving end of drunken belligerence and meanness and I have watched as booze has ruined relationships and lives. I have struggled in every imaginable way with what it means to be a sober person in a drinking world, but I have managed to remain faithful to my story.
The cessation of drinking in my life was the beginning of my having any real faith. And the beginning of having real faith was the beginning of everything. It was sitting dormant in my body, somewhere, waiting for clear channels to manifest and when I corked the wine and poured out the tequila it finally had somewhere to go. It bloomed. It blossomed and it carried with it a thousand stories of how life could be better without the crutch of alcohol.
There have been many days when I have thought, ah a drink would be so great right now … if only I could wash this pain away with a really terrific glass of red wine. Instead I walk through the pain and suckiness and the loss and the grief and all the other shit that chews me up and spits me out all the time. I want to see who I am on the other side of grief, on the other side of hardship and pain. Booze was once my portal into an escape that never materialized. I fooled myself, time and again, into thinking that there would be salvation on the other side of a bottle of pinot noir. There wasn’t. On the other side of a bottle of pinot noir was a headache and regret and loss. Of people, of meaning, of dignity. Of all the life forces that matter.
I don’t know why I came back today to write about this, why my self-imposed hiatus from writing here was so short. Maybe I’m addicted to writing. How great is that? There are good and worthy addictions: to my kids, to a good night’s sleep, to God’s love, to faith and faith and faith. I go back to it with the savage hunger of an addict over and over, my faith. Faith, as it turns out, is the magic elixir.
I wish more people would stop thinking that drinking is cool. I wish more people would stop drinking, period. It’s a small wish, but I don’t see it gaining any traction in my lifetime. It’s a hard thing, almost impossible, to try to get someone else to stop drinking, or even to slow down. I was once in love with someone who had the habit of drinking secretly, excessively. Drinking had caused a lot of problems for him in his life and I hoped that love would hold enough transformative power to inspire him to turn away from the bottle. But even love, I learned, is sometimes no match for the wily stonghold of booze, the sinister fog of addiction.
And so I hold fast to faith. I pour a glass of it every morning, curl up with it at night. I’ll be carrying it in my hip flask everywhere, always. Amen.