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Nine Years Later.

16 February 2017

Anyone who’s been here a while has read my story over and over. I don’t need to tell it again today. It’s funny how the details fade and fade and then erupt into shame in my mind suddenly, unbidden. Embarrassment I’ll never be rid of. But perhaps one vignette I’ve never shared before:

Once I was out with my ex-wife and friends at a bar and there was a live band one of her friends knew. During a break I met them and then they asked me if I wanted to sit in on the keyboard. I accepted. Even though I’ve never played in groups, and don’t know how to do it. I must have been awful, because someone sneaked in behind me and unplugged the keyboard. I continued banging away.

Alcohol humiliates us. I am immune from shame when I drink, only to find myself pointedly susceptible to it when I sober up. It sticks to me like a tar – uncleansable. One of the promises is that we will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it. I am challenged by that one when I think of the times I made such a fool of myself.

But perhaps even those experiences can be useful to others. That’s my role in sobriety now. That’s the role I’ve tried to take for myself in life. I want to be useful to others. I can help people relinquish alcohol and drugs. I can volunteer and donate. I can work for an institution with a noble mission. Perhaps I can atone, slowly, for my catalog of misdeeds.

Being sober is a good life. I’m hopeful I can be of service in helping others achieve it. I hope people can see the changes in my life. I hope others out there struggling can recognize in my story that there’s hope for them. There is life and love and health and freedoms all to be had. For anyone. No matter what your situation is: if you drink too much, and need to change, you can.

Nine years. Nine years of putting my head down sober. Nine years of waking up clear-headed, unafraid of what I might have done the night before I can’t recall. Nine years of living, instead of dying. With love and loss and fear and deaths and joys and all those other things that happen in our lives. Experienced in unaltered reality.

This is how I live. I have a good life. And I even if I cannot unburden myself of all my past shame, at least, today, I do not add to it. And now, after a smile and a tear, today goes on like any other. I don’t think I’ll drink today. Tomorrow looks pretty good. And for now, Saturday will have to take care of itself. One day at a time.

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