Day Four Hundred and Forty-One
I didn’t write about my one year of sobriety anniversary – I was in the middle of a massive work project that was draining my creative energy. I was exhausted that day and I didn’t feel very celebratory. I also sometimes worry that sobriety will become the only story, the only thing that people will think they know me for. The reality is though that alcohol was like the veil, hiding all the other stories. And, it has been 441 days since my last drink and that feels like something worth sharing.
I spent this past weekend in Vancouver and I realized that it was the first weekend I have spent sober in the city, maybe ever. It was filled with music and friends and culture and shopping and the spa and all of the things that a good city weekend should be filled with. And it was also full of unintended reflection.
Friday night, as I was walking to meet friends at a downtown bar, a homeless man stopped me on the street winking “If you don’t find the trouble you’re looking for, come back and I’ll help you find it!” I laughed, thinking about all the times I went looking for trouble. I was often so terrified of being alone that I would trade my fear for trouble. An easy trade, a cheap exchange, a raw deal all around. I don’t always love being alone but I’m not afraid of it. Later that night, when trouble came searching for fear, she was gone.
Saturday morning I walked through the city and over the bridge and up Kitsilano hills. Past an old hangover haunt. I remembered thinking once that I might seriously die in my eggs in that restaurant. It was raining, pouring even, and the hills were steep. But I was alive and hydrated and my body was strong and grateful. And I was 100% certain that trouble wasn’t following me.
Sunday I had dinner with friends. Their 14-month-old son toddled around the house as we talked. Sometimes at 14-ish months alcohol-free, I feel like that babe, cruising along on new legs, impressed with my skill, and, a little cautious, a little tentative – not in my choice to not drink, but in what it is to live life without it. One of the things that came up as we talked was how not drinking had impacted my dating life (or lack thereof). I laughed and said that it had made my standards higher. Beyond the obvious jokes, there is a clarity even in the subtler moments that prevents me from compromising what matters most and helps me understand where compromise is the stronger path.
When I chose to stop drinking, I was terrified that my choice not to drink would lead me down a dark and wooded path of social isolation. I didn’t account for how alcohol dulled my edges and left me feeling anxious and depressed and worried that I had said the wrong thing or acted inappropriately or god knows what else. I didn’t account for how fleeting, meaningless or impotent connection can become when you are constantly numbing yourself. And I had no idea how profoundly grateful I would be for the ability to make another choice.