Sometimes, I look at life as if I managed to pull off a heist. That from the bottom of the pile, I managed to achieve everything I set out to do. With careful planning and patience, the unbelievable become achievable. From drunken stupidity to sober serenity. I look back and think how the fuck did I manage that?
For a long time in sobriety, I looked at my life like it belonged to someone else. A movie of something I wished I could achievement. Of a person, I wished I was. Living the life I wanted to have. It took a while to accept that it was happening to me. There have been overwhelming moments of happiness. I have been brought to tears by the beauty of life. Of the comprehension of the ability of a once-beaten alky to dared to try. Who one said “no more!” And then plotting his escape. Sometimes it was a slow crawl. Sometimes it was painful. But now I feel like I could walk into the sunset. Knowing that I achieved far more than I could ever have imagined. I pulled off a trick. Not to anyone else but to myself. I fooled my addiction that we were on a break. That it’s time would come again. That I was just borrowing money, I would have spent on alcohol to finance my dreams for a while. I just needed control of my life for a few years to get some shit done. That is the heist. I stole time back from alcohol and used it to live life. To explore. To love. To transcend time and experience bliss that alcohol could never deliver.
There isn’t space in life for alcohol and happiness. The two can’t co-exist. Alcohol is the antithesis of my happiness. I accept that now. To be happy, I have to be sober. Then I can have serenity anytime. Silence is the absence of chaos. Alcohol is the chaos creator. After tasting life in its infinitely beautiful simplicity, it’s difficult to return to misery. How is it possible to return to alcoholism after dancing in the paradise of sobriety?
Sobriety is a contentious word. It’s connotations stretch beyond alcohol. It is seen as a measuring stick of something unmeasurable. An AA creation that confirms membership. The dictionary meaning of sobriety is to be solemn, which in turn means deep sincerity. There is nothing beyond that for me. It is a genuine connection to myself. This has lead to a real connection outside. Alcohol was the block to all connections. Except for shallow connections with fellow drinkers. But by removing alcohol it cleared the way. Again it feels like I fooled addiction into a distraction. While it was sleeping I snuck past and made friends with myself. I had always looked at myself with disdain. Almost as if my own reflection run through the filter of alcoholism contorted my vision. Without this blurring of reality, it was possible to see clearly. I am not the person that alcohol led me to believe.
It’s been a hard road. But life with alcohol was a hard road. The things I drank to escape were often easy to deal with but were just an excuse to drink. Molehills made to mountains. Without alcohol, I have been able to deal with the things that once seemed unmanageable. The strength to overcome adversity has come from the strength to overcome adversity. I know that doesn’t seem to make sense. But by doing the best I can do at any one time will result in either a positive outcome or a life lesson. Each attempt strengthens the resilience for the next thing. Daring to take a step is the beginning of the lesson.
I never expected it to pay off. I never expected quitting drinking to lead to anything other than a boring, lonely life. I imagined nights sitting alone, while everyone was out having a great time on the drink. That is still possible. I can wallow in self-pity if I wish. It is a choice. But now I have a level of control over my thinking I once thought impossible. I don’t miss drinking life anymore. On reflection, I didn’t enjoy it much while I was drinking. I just didn’t know how to stop or what I would do if I did stop. I expected sobriety to be boring. But it hasn’t been. The perception I had back then was wide of the mark. The knowledge that boredom is dangerous has inspired me to pursue avenues of growth. Learning music, writing, reading, travelling, exercise, meditation, hiking. Whatever it is. It has all come about by the knowledge; sitting around moaning how shit sobriety is, is nothing but self-destructive.
Sobriety has been a revelation. The gift of peace. The joy of adventure. The bliss of a deep inner connection. The value of being a positive influence in the world. It is there. It is available if I just keep alcoholism in its bed. Acknowledging its presence yet not letting it dictate my life. Alcohol is the chain to a life of misery and disappointment. It is the restriction of freedom and understanding. Sobriety is the cure for that. Quitting drinking has delivered the opposite of what I expected. Thankfully, I didn’t expect positivity. But that is what I got.
I think it’s conditioning. Social programming. Has led to the false belief that life without alcohol would be bland. Years of adverts showing fun and freedom. The promises of the adverts were often unfulfilled. Ironically, I found the things I sought in alcohol by not drinking alcohol. I guess the advert that shows the benefits of sobriety wouldn’t make much money; “Don’t drink alcohol & be happy!”
The knowledge that life without alcohol isn’t only possible but is, in fact, enjoyable, only heightens the feeling of getting away with it. By daring to do the opposite of what culture demands, I have been rewarded beyond comprehension. The idea of social expectations dissolved in the realisation that not all of the advise I have been given has my best interest at heart. Sobriety is the transcending of external expectation by enabling a connection to my intuition. I don’t have the vocabulary to explain how important that has been. From self-hatred and self-avoidance to self-trust and self-love. That is invaluable.
On the 1st of June 2014, I decided to try another way. To venture into a life without alcohol. I expected nothing and received more than I could ever ask for. This knowledge is the power that fuels my positivity. That no matter what happens, I already achieved more than I ever expected. Whatever joys or hardships life brings now are just extras. I feel blessed to have been through this journey. I have eternal gratitude for the people who have helped me along the way. I can happily help others get to where they want to get to because I have the memories in the bank that remind me that I pulled off the greatest heist in life. I stole time and money from my addiction and used them to pursue my dreams.
Addiction still wants my time and money back. But it will be waiting for a while.