[I wrote this on 4.4.14, four days before turning 34. I never published it until now, my first day of sobriety in quite awhile. Happy Thanksgiving.–brt]
God has a funny way of meeting us where we are. I’ve been slipping again lately, taking nips here and there, all the while knowing I was playing with fire as I’d done in the past. I told one of my friends I’d be sobered up “for good” again by my birthday next week. The closer that date gets, the more I realize the rinse-and-repeat cycle will quite literally keep repeating itself ad infinitum until I’m somehow serious enough to finally stop for good. At this point I’ve stopped and started too many times to mention, and no one who’s started again mentions it except maybe when they break down in their doctor’s office like I did a couple of weeks ago. He said he knew I’d been drinking and he knew I’d been lying to him when he questioned me; I felt like a child caught red-handed. I told him it had only been red wine for a couple of weeks, as if that made it better or somehow healthier. (“I hate wine,” I said. “I’m glad to hear it,” he responded.) Except the fact of the matter is I have an arsenal of pills to help keep me from drinking, if I’ll only not skip doses. It’s all been said before and while I certainly don’t feel like a hopeless cause, I feel like–shocker–I’m powerless over alcohol. If I knew I could have just a few drinks with friends on my nights off, that would be one thing. But sneaking it back into work in water bottles, showing up late to church drunk, all the old signs that enough is enough…it’s just not fun anymore.
Back to God meeting me…He meets me every single time I pray, of course, but He met me where I am in this liquid jungle on Wednesday night when I was watching ‘Nashville’. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the writers handle the topic of alcoholism so well. Chip Esten has not gotten the credit he deserves up to this point for playing recovering alcoholic Deacon on the show. He had a pivotal role in Wednesday’s episode, and though Deacon wanted very much to drink again, he chose to stay sober. I already knew this from my time in AA and therapy, but it was a good reminder that he chose not to drink this time. Deacon was under a great deal of pressure and had every excuse to hit the bottle, but he didn’t…he consciously uncoupled himself from the booze, if you will.
I don’t blame my drinking on any of my circumstances anymore; I quit doing that some time last year. But the better question is, what do I have to blame my sobriety on? It’s certainly not me and my OCD tendency to overanalyze everything. When I’m sober, I thank God every single night on my way to work, and I also thank Him for all the people whom I have praying for me on that journey. When I’m not sober, I leave that sentence out of my prayers. How convenient, right? I’ve lost sight of where the journey to wellness begins and ends. The whole reason I became discouraged with AA was because I couldn’t seem to make it passed the 90-day chip. (There were a couple of other reasons, but that’s the main one.) Picking and choosing…it sounds very familiar to the strategy many use with scriptures. The fact of the matter is that I don’t need to drink. Not even a little bit, because there’s no such thing as “a little bit” with me. Even if I meet a friend for drinks, I “pre-game.” If I pour myself a drink at home, I pour a bit extra into the Solo cup, even the wine I loathed. It never fails.
The truth is, I’m not very happy with myself on the cusp of turning 34. I’m lonely because I’ve alienated myself, and I’ve missed ample opportunities to move on with my life because staying where I am seems like more of a “sure bet,” financially or otherwise. That’s just not good enough at the end of the day. I have enough self-awareness to know all of this, and also to know that drinking won’t fix any of it. It’s my choice how I carry out what I know in my heart to be true. That little oddly worded sentence says it all…I know in my heart what’s right, and it’s my choice to carry it out. Not by my own power, but with God’s help.