Day 9: Letting My Guard Down.

I had a good day today. So good, in fact, that for a moment I almost let my guard down to grab a drink. It was a reflex, like some subconscious machine inside of me extended my hand toward the fridge to grab a drink. “You’re happy, let’s make this feeling last.” It was so natural, so nonchalant, that I honestly failed to remember for a split second that I wasn’t drinking anymore. The moment left me momentarily puzzled, but otherwise unshaken. I continued my evening as happily as before, even without that drink.

It’s strange how easily I forgot how seductive a good day can be when it comes to drinking. This made me think: What are other emotions or other scenarios that pull me towards booze? Is there perhaps some way I can prepare for these moments? The thing I realized is that, for me at least, drinking is an equal opportunity fellow: Have a rough day? Have a drink. Run into an old friend? Let’s grab a cocktail. At a wedding? Toast the happy couple. At a funeral? A round in honor of his memory. Just want to veg with some reality TV? A few beers makes that so much easier. Cooking Italian? How ’bout a bottle of good red to go along with that. Drinking has been such a big part of what I’ve done (and who I’ve been) for so long that I can imagine pretty much any scenario in which a drink in hand would be the norm. If I really wanted to plot out all my triggers, it would almost be easier to think of all the scenarios or all the emotions in which I wouldn’t drink!

But, one day at a time, right…

As I continue on this journey I expect I’m going to have all sorts of surprising days like today where my natural reflex will be to drink. And, like today, some of the reflexes might be so subconscious and so subversive that I’ll be surprised at how easily I’ll forget that I’m not drinking anymore. Besides being vigilant as well as more cognizant of my actions in general, perhaps the key is doing what I did today: notice the impulse, recognize the temptation, remind myself that I’m not drinking, recall why I’m not drinking, and then let it pass. Oh, and then celebrate one more day of sobriety.

One day at a time…

Art: Midday Rest, by Vincent van Gogh


A Poem.

By Dag

I’m always waiting for my life to begin
And I’ll get right on it, of course
Right after the next project at work is done
Right after Jen’s wedding.
After I get through that
I’ll stop drinking and start living.

So, next Monday for sure then,
After drinks with Joe
But just because it’s already planned.

But then again it’s the family reunion at the end of the month
I’ll want to wait until after that, certainly
It’ll be a hellish couple of weeks
You know, family and all
I’ll want a brew or two to take the edge off for sure.

So, really, after that I’ll stop drinking and start living.
Then things will be different
I’ll have space to work on my life then
I’ll have time to call my sister back
I’ll start making healthier decisions
I’ll start saving money
It’s about time after all.

It’s a deal then.
After the project
After Jen’s wedding
After drinks with Joe
After the family reunion
That’s when I’ll stop drinking and start living.

That’s when it’ll all change
That’s when I’ll really have space to grow
That’s when I’ll open myself to becoming all I feel called to become.

Of course, things come up
Life is messy
So, I swear
For real, real, real this time
After the next party
Or maybe after whatever mess is after that
Because, let’s be fair,
That one could be a real problem
That’s when I’ll stop drinking
And that’s when I’ll start living.

And that’s when my life will begin.

Art: Wheatfield with Crows, by Vincent van Gogh