It started with the quitting of the drinking and it just snowballs and snowballs and sometimes I feel like I'm just rolling downhill with it, completely out of control.
I'm gone five nights a week to learn how to get a handle on this sobriety thing and that's good and that's hard. It feels both wrong and right. It feels busy and overwhelming and yet I know it's right.
I'm reading little booklets given to me by my chemical dependency counselor with titles like, Intimacy and Understanding Emotions. Identity. Trust. Insecurity. When I'm reading, it all seems so obvious, but I've never really let the knowledge of how to live these things get from my head to my heart. It's overwhelming too, and you guessed it, it feels both wrong and right.
In her book Drinking: A Love Story, Caroline Knapp writes,
"When you quit drinking you stop waiting. You begin to let go of the wish, age-old and profound and essentially human, that someone will swoop down and do all that hard work, growing up, for you. You start living your own life."
That's exactly what's happening here. It's so impossible to describe and so I feel this rift with my friends and family. I feel somehow alien. Like I'm me, but not me, and I don't know exactly how to be. I make the same jokes and I listen to them and something is just so different. I'm different. Everything is different because everything looks different to me, and so I'm thinking and feeling differently. It feels so wrong and so right at the same time.
Not long after I quit drinking, maybe a week, I sat with one of my best friends at a coffee shop. She asked what this was like, how I was doing, and I just looked out the window. I said I just can't explain it, that everything is so different somehow and even though there's this new peace, it's just so much. I said that I feel like a new person and that scares me because starting over is hard.
She started to cry with me and she reached for my hand and said, we're going to be okay. And that was it, exactly what I needed to hear. I was scared that we wouldn't be...at all. That I had somehow irrevocably changed the we of our friendship by turning my half upside down and inside out in a way that maybe wouldn't fit the us of so many years.
I don't think I could walk around in life without knowing she's out there thinking of me and calling me friend. It's always been there, this comfort in a kindred replica of me, alive in her person, totally understanding who I am. A soul reflection, a heart monitor.
We're going to be okay.
My closest friends, the ones that will be with me and look at me and say we're going to be okay, are back in the place we just moved away from. They are still in my life through the phone, a call or text, an email or a short visit, but they feel really far away right now.
So I am grieving. I miss my friends and I miss a way of life that's gone. I am not alone but much of the time I feel alone here with sobriety. Shoving and pushing and pulling, moving all the things I thought I knew from my head to my heart.
All of it is working together, and as Caroline Knapp said, I'm starting to live my own life. I know this is really good, but this is really hard.
And it feels right.
To my online friends who are on this sobriety road with me, please don't get all worried about the "alone in sobriety" thing. I'm working on that too. I'm going where I need to go to develop friendships with people in recovery. It just takes time, especially in a smallish town. So guess what? It makes me extra grateful for YOU.