Life is full of ups and downs, isn’t it? I’m a firm believer that you have to suffer the downs in order to fully appreciate and enjoy the ups. But sometimes, the downs really do get to me. The last couple of weeks have been like that. It’s one of those periods of time where it seems like it’s just one bad thing happening after another. Without end. There have been major things like dealing with the wreckage of my past (read: legal stuff), having a car in the shop and having to ask others for help getting here and there, being overwhelmed at work, and financial issues. And then there have been small things like the washing machine overflowing, our wi-fi not working right, not making it to as many meetings as I like to, and stepping in dog poop. Twice. In the same day. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks.
Yesterday though, things started to look up. I dealt with my wreckage, and things turned out okay, the part for our car came in and our mechanic got it finished up today, I found out that I get to hire a part-time employee to help me, and a wonderful family member helped us out financially. Even the small stuff has gotten better – we got a new washing machine, I figured out the best spot in the house for wi-fi reception, and I have asked for rides to meetings instead of sitting at home pouting. And the dog poop? Well, it’s so far so good today, but it’s hard to be sure…chihuahuas are troublesome (but loveable).
When I was drinking, there is no way that I would’ve been able to stay sober for any of what has happened recently. Any one of the things I mentioned earlier (even the poop!) would’ve sent me straight to a bottle. Here’s the thing, I was able to trudge through the icky stuff, with only one crying meltdown, which my sponsor mercifully said was just me using my release valve to relieve the pressure, because of a couple of key things.
My first lifesaver was the knowledge that all of these situations and the negative feelings that I was having about them would pass. Although at the time, actually having to feel my emotions was pretty damn hard. I’m only at almost eight months sober, so feeling negative emotions does not come easily. It’s nearly excruciating to just have to sit in them, without stuffing them, or numbing myself. Knowing, intellectually, that my situation (and mood) would change eventually, really wasn’t an emotional comfort at the time. I was feeling hopeless, like I would be stuck in chaos forever. But somewhere, down deep, I knew that things would get better, as long as I put one foot in front of the other and tried to do the next right thing, no matter how hard.
That leads me to the second thing that saved me. Sobriety. I would never have come out on the other side of this, the good, positive, joyous side, if I had gotten drunk. Not only would I not have been able to deal with those things, I would’ve created even more wreckage! It would’ve been like the snowball rolling down the hill you see in cartoons. It would keep getting bigger and bigger, gaining speed as it got closer and closer to running me over. I know that bad things are going to happen, even in sobriety, but as long as I don’t drink, I can avoid the snowball.
So today, I am really grateful that things are on the upswing and that I was able to weather the last couple of weeks. One of the things that I try to remember when uncomfortable feelings come up is something that I heard in treatment, “our emotions won’t kill us, but our addiction will.” Those words have given me comfort during times of emotional stress and upheaval. When I think about how I felt on Sunday, during my crying jag, I’m so glad that I was able to remember that my emotions were not something that would cause my world to end. Another thing I remembered was that, when I am in that state, I can’t always believe what I think. My hopeless and defeatist thoughts aren’t reality. My alcoholic brain tells me that those feelings are true, when in fact, a lot of times, they aren’t. But while I may not always be able to change the way I feel about a situation, I can accept that sometimes my feelings might not be quite accurate, and that perhaps I should try to change my perspective. Sometimes it works.
I guess what I am getting at with all this, is that sobriety isn’t for sissies. See, in the beginning, I thought that when I got sober, life would get better. It didn’t. Bad things continue to happen, and life continues to be challenging. What did get better, though, is me. I bounce back quicker from disappointments, I allow myself to feel, I talk about things with others, I live pretty darn transparently. It’s not always easy, in fact, it’s hard a lot of the time, but it’s always better than it was when I was drunk. I experience so much more joy and happiness now, even in the midst of life’s messes. Being sober doesn’t take away the trials and tribulations, but it equips me to be able to handle them.