I have a few people that write to me at any given time. Sometimes none. Sometimes more than a few, maybe like four. It all follows pretty much the same pattern: a lot of email, then none. It means one of two things: either that person is sober and cruising along fine, or that they are drinking again and don’t want to write.
Ugh, drinking again.
I feel so honored when people write to me and say how strong I am. I feel proud of myself way deep down in when people say nice things like “you are so sober” and “you inspire me”. I also feel the way it feels when I see or read about someone who is really good at something I want to be really good at. But I’m not really good at it. Maybe I really suck at it, and I think I can’t stand to try anymore at it. And so I feel a little weird about it too because I remember what I was like when I wasn’t so sober.
I wanted to remind y’all of that too. I wanted to remind you so you can see that I haven’t always been this me: for twenty years I was the me you don’t know. The drinking me. I imagine that people can relate to my hope, to my strength. To the beauty that is my sobriety. I imagine that makes it easy to forget in all my drinking years how I had sex with strangers, made a fool out of myself time and time again, drank through my boys’ babyhoods, almost totally wrecked my marriage, damaged friendships beyond repair, went through a stage where I wet the bed regularly because I was too drunk to know I had to pee. That I lied, disappeared, and hurt the people I loved the most regularly. Including me. You wouldn’t have liked me. Or you would have, but then been confused by who I was and wasn’t. And then probably given up.
If I’d seen this today me when I was all slung up out on the back porch with my cigs and bottles of wine I would have loved to have been that today me. And thought it was totally never possible. I would have longed and looked and poured myself another glass of prosecco because, well, I had already started so fuck it. And only other people can do amazing stuff like that. I just knew that I didn’t have what it took to stop scraping by.
Turns out that was bullshit.
I have not always been so good at being something. I was really really bad at being sober for almost my whole life. I could fill a room full of the empty promises I made to myself, a building, an acre. For thousands of days I didn’t get it right. It looks pretty now, but damn. I was a mess.
The thing I always want to come across is this: you can too. I can see the magic in you even when you can’t. I don’t know you but I recognize your magic. I know you feel it sometimes when you think about quitting drinking and imagine for real what your life might be like if you really did it. That shiver and grin that scoots up when you don’t know it’s coming to stop it.