In 2 days I will have been sober for 18 years. That's right. 10/16/16 marks no alcohol or drugs for 18/41st of my life. What an eloquent equation! Not even a LITTLE bit of Mad Dog 20/20 or Carlo Rossi straight out of the jug or tabs of LSD in ALL THIS TIME. No Kahlua or peppermint schnapps or hash or heroin, either. GOOD FOR ME!
But just because I've been clean and sober does not mean I haven't found ways of numbing out, feeling crazy, acting badly, wallowing in self pity and nearly losing everything I hold dear. I'm far too creative for that! Sobriety is no guarantee of eternal serenity, bliss or even a prolonged state of balanced mental health. But for me, without sobriety as my base line, special perks like clarity, peace of mind, monogamy, regular showers and not throwing up on myself in public don't stand a chance. Sobriety has been my opportunity to put the fire out and rebuild from the ruins instead of walking around with my head in flames, like I did once when I was 19.
When I got sober at 23, I couldn't understand why I cried 24/7, why my ex-boyfriend wanted me dead, why I hated myself, why all my dreams kept doing a bait and switch by turning into nightmares. I couldn't understand why large amounts of toxic substances in my system made me feel, act and look crazy while everyone else seemed to be having the time of their lives.
Sobriety was not my plan. Living a long time and having a happy life wasn't my plan, either. I did know however, that I needed therapy and then I received special intel from an inside source that AA was just like therapy but FREE. I didn't particularly love the feeling of my entire mind and body transforming into a giant raw nerve as all the feelings I'd shoved down with alcohol and drugs came roiling back up. But it was real. And it was better than where I'd been. So I kept at it. And I'm keeping at it still.
Sobriety has been beautiful and crazy and wild and really, the ride of my life. Way wilder and crazier than drinking and doing drugs, honestly. Getting wasted was predictable. In sobriety anything can happen, and will. I can honestly say I owe everything I have now to the fact that I haven't been obliterated in a good long while. My marriage, my son, my friendships, my writing life, clothes not stained with throw up from the night before. I hope I can stay on this ride for another 18 years. Or 81.