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What it’s Like Now.

18 April 2012

Today life is dramatically different from the life described in the previous two posts. There’s less to tell. I can’t, as I set out, imagine writing a two thousand word essay about what my life is like today. For a very simple reason: my life is fairly ordinary. And that is, as I said at the end of the post yesterday, an unbelieveable privilege. Because I get to have days like yesterday, and days like today.

Yesterday, I got to put my program into action, encouraging someone who needed encouragement. Yesterday, I wrote several pages of a grant application. Yesterday, I took a two and a half mile walk in the glorious sunshine after work. Yesterday was a good day. And one of the truly wonderful things about it is how unremarkable it was. I simply did the things that were in front of me to do. And then, in the evening, I sat down at my piano and found that a piece of music I’ve been fighting with for months has begun to emerge. I have the seeds of the finale to my symphony.

And I get to have days like today. When I woke up at 2 am and saw that my latest paper, the one that is the first paper from my first funded grant, was desk-rejected prior to review. It made me angry and that made it hard to get back to sleep. Today I have to re-organize and resubmit, and that will require getting my co-authors to sign something which is always a massive pain in the ass. And I had to fight with manuscript central which seems to have been designed by a software engineer who was trying to be malicious, but wasn’t talented enough to get that right.

I get to feel all my emotions. I get to do productive work, or at least semi-productive fighting with badly-designed websites. I have a good job, for as long as I have funding, anyway (and a little longer if my boss is to be believed). I have a nice home, and close friends. I have found a really wonderful, really engaging online community, that I participate in. I make meaningful contributions to society.

And even days like today, when I feel like leveling manuscript central’s server farm with an airstrike, and the collaborator I’m trying to get in touch with has apparently still not discovered voice mail, and I didn’t get enough sleep, and my paper was rejected without review, I am grateful. Because these are the problems of a useful man. Someone with something to give. People to serve.

And even the big things are manageable. I got divorced. There were a bunch of reasons for it. Some were my fault, some were hers. I won’t go on a litany of blaming her. It’s not relevant and not useful. The real issue is, when I got sober, I changed. It was a massive, unqualified change for the better. But I was not the person whom she had chosen to marry any longer. And I was no longer the person who had chosen to marry her. And so we parted. And I was heartbroken. And I still am some days. But I didn’t drink over it, and I didn’t want to.

Last month, the woman who I think of as my adopted mother died. She was my college roommate’s mother. I called her “mom” for twenty years. She died of a glioblastoma multiforme. And she died with grace and dignity, which is often not the case with that malady, which can destroy who a person is long before it kills them. She was only 63. I was tossed into grief. But I didn’t drink about it, and I didn’t want to.

And there are challenges ahead. Personal, professional, romantic, physical. And I’ll meet them all. Sometimes I’ll fail. Most of the time, if history is any indication, I’ll do pretty well. Sometimes I’m afraid. Sometimes I fixate on things I can’t control. Sometimes I feel like I can’t calm my mind and my heart. Those times are generally pretty short these days. And I know what to do with them. I call my sponsor. I go to a meeting. I sit quietly or play the piano.

Sometimes people say that I’ve conquered my addiction. I smile, and say “thank you” mostly, when they do. But it isn’t true. My addiction conquered me. Completely and irrevocably. I am totally and utterly and irretrievably addicted to alcohol. I will never be able to drink normally. And it is through the acknowledgement of that defeat that I am liberated. As long as I tried to manage my drinking, and my life as a drinker, I failed. If I try again, I will fail again.

Surrendering to my addiction allowed me to stop fighting it. And because I am not fighting, I do not have to drink. Because I have nothing to prove to the bottle.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. furtheron permalink
    19 April 2012 04:57

    Fantastic post. Thanks.

    I have a head full of shoulds (one of my little phrases) … I should be a better this and that, I should do more of this and that.

    I don’t these days feel much along the lines that I’m actually contributing much to society other than paying my taxes. Always an area where I don’t see what I can offer I suppose, I don’t have a talent for coming up with stuff to help a lot of other people. I help the odd one or two here and there in the fellowship when I can and I try to help follow step 12 through service in my group and locally across several groups by making sure our website is up to date etc. That is about my meager contribution – it’ll have to be enough for now

  2. 24 April 2012 21:17

    Great post about living life on life’s terms. And I remember feeling very indignant when I would get a manuscript rejected. In the long run, I took into account the reviewer’s comments and submitted to a more prestigious journal and it was accepted. Stuff does work out.

  3. 9 May 2012 21:28

    I’ve just circled around your blog a bit and am very grateful to hear you. A few things in particular stand out about it for me. I like your humor and your honest, thorough analysis of self. Your gratitude is clear and affirms for me what living soberly means: as in a daily chance to truly live and experience life with vivid authenticity.

    “…because these are the problems of a useful man. Someone with something to give. People to serve.” Very happy to read that. It is difficult to put into words but you’ve done it well.

    Life smiles upon this decision to live sober. I’ve never regretted it.

    Thanks

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