Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Out With The Old

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 A new year is here, and so am I.

Nearly, fifteen months have passed since the relatively harmless drinking habit I picked up in my early 20s nearly morphed into a death sentence when I was 38. Trends, patterns, statistics, and medical doctors understood that I would never live to see this holiday season. Well, I did survive and have done so with an alcohol free mind and body. Everything in my life is different, better, and happier because of this.

When I began writing last March, I was only six weeks removed from my third, and final hospital stay. I was handwriting my memories into a journal, then posting those stories to The Internet a few weeks later. When I think of those months in the spring, I feel that was a definitive turning point for me. Keeping focused on those stories, one word at a time, kept me from dwelling on anything other than the task at hand. I had to let go of my past, and stave off my fright of the future.

All these months later I still feel as if my recovery is young but the amount of knowledge I have gained since last spring has grown exponentially. It is truly amazing to have my mind back. Thing is I am not sure when I really lost my battle with alcohol. Because there was no battle. I never fought my drinking since I knew that I didn't have to. At least that's what I thought until I was too far gone. Past the point of no return.

Now, I see the drinking with dry eyes and it is not pretty. The whole idea of getting drunk to have fun is absolutely absurd from my new perspective. Whether the occasion is reuniting with old friends or family, watching the big game or recognizing Cinco de Mayo for no personal reason. New Year's Eve. The calendar is about to change. Let's get wasted.  My opinion is considered to be the boring one. That is to be expected.

Nearly everyone I used to hang out with is gone. I am OK with that. I found out quickly that all we had in common was drinking. At least, everything we did together involved boozed. It hasn't been easy facing facts while realizing I knew almost nothing personal about some of my best friends, and how little they knew about me.

On the other hand, not everyone has run away from my sobriety and the initial awkwardness of drinking around me has worn off. That has become more trouble to be mentally than anything else. My improved physical and mental health have returned so quickly and profoundly that my actual condition is being forgotten. I still have cirrhosis. I am still an addict. I just don't drink, and I don't want to.

Last summer people showed courtesy and candor. Not anymore. It is like this past year never happened. Nearly each and every encounter I have had with anyone close to me over the last few months has been a disaster in my point of view and they have no idea. Each of those encounters has been extremely stressful and emotionally challenging. Anxiety is a beast and my treatment for that had always been drinking.

The most common hurdle I have encountered is unwanted advice. I cannot even begin to comprehend how so many people think it is a good idea to offer me their wisdom and tips to me while they are drunk. It is nonsensical. I have been told repeatedly about why I should be going to AA or how I need someone to hold me accountable or how pissed I made them when I was drinking. I say "repeatedly". As in over and over in the same conversation. That needs to stop. I especially don't need any input from someone who is drinking and driving while talking on their cell phone. Yes. That happened too.

Slow down. Wait. Listen. You are alive. Do not take it for granted.
Think.

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