ITSB’s 2-Year Anniversary
In the Same Boat is a lifesaver.
A Recovery Guru on the internet, he’s a regular commenter on this page, as well as the Bar None and many of the sites listed under Recovery Artists in my sidebar. Though he does not keep a blog himself (despite my constant pleas), he has been so kind as to grace me with a couple of guest posts.
Today, he’s generously provided me with a follow up to ITSB’s Manifestive, a post he wrote on his first anniversary of sobriety that i hung up over at the Bar None. Today, on the 2nd anniversary of his sobriety, he has this wisdom to impart to us.
ITSB’s 2nd Anniversary Manifestive
My first month of sobriety seemed like a year. My second year of sobriety seemed like a month.
Reading my 1-year manifestive over again, I see that much has changed.
The biggest change is leaving isolation. My mountain home, tucked deep in the mountains to keep me far away from bars and liquor stores, is no longer required. I have moved to a place very close to the beach in the Santa Monica/Venice area of LA and I love it. I can ride my bike along the ocean path to work, ogling the hotties. I can run barefoot in the sand with the surf hitting my feet and then jump in for a swim to cool down if I get too hot.
To forget the day, I do not need alcohol. Rather, I take my portable chair to the beach and watch the sunset, while listening to the waves. And I’m learning to surf. All this would be gone if I went back to my old ways because there are many bars nearby and a liquor store next door. Drinking the way I used to with such easy access to booze? That could be fatal. I know it. I have found a place to live that makes me far happier than any buzz alcohol has ever given me and I become healthier, not weaker enjoying it. Any temptation to drink is immediately quashed with the realization that it would ruin what I now have.
But while my location is a dream and my urges to drink are comfortably suppressed, there is still reality to cope with. My job is stressful, and I am not as far along in my career as I would like to be. The reason is that I wasted a decade taking easy-money jobs to keep me sauced rather than advancing my career. I used to lament that “work was interfering with my drinking” but the opposite was obviously true. Working hard now I find it very easy to catch up since I do not have to spend the morning nursing a hangover. I’ve even started a little consulting business on the side that’s helping me become more financially secure. And I’ve made it a goal to be retired by the time I’m 55. That’s still a ways away. But it is something to keep my focus on the future and away from the here and now. Nonetheless, I find the stress manifesting itself in ways that are not uncommon but still unpleasant.
Resentments, desires to lash out, and the like, that could have been easily quelled with a few beers at the end of the day, now take other methods. While I still find the ABCs taught in SMART therapeutic, the most effective therapy I have found is to go the gym, which is fortunately near my office, pick up two dumbells (3, 5, or even 8 pounds work) and smash a punching bag until my arms feel like they’re going to drop off. Then I rest for 30 seconds and do it again and again as often as it takes to work it out. Following that with some weight training a couple times a week, and maybe a massage, helps a lot.
While I brag about my running and weight training, which have been instrumental to recovery, I still find myself engaging in self-destructive behavior. My caffeine consumption is entirely too high — I drink about 8-10 cups of coffee a day, which cannot be good. But I am not that concerned about it. The other behavior I have is more troubling. If you re-read my manifestive, you’ll see that airports were a major source of anxiety for me. Well, actually I have learned that it’s travel in general. And the following has happened three or four times in the past year.
Whenever I fly somewhere or go on a road trip, I tell myself that it’s ok to have a few cigarettes even though I stopped smoking regularly almost 20 years ago. The few turn into a pack of smokes, which I have at the destination. This is enough to get me addicted to nicotine. So then I buy nicotine replacement lozenges so that I do not smoke or enter withdrawal at an inopportune time. After everything has settled from the travel, I then withdrawal over a weekend when the thrill of the lozenges wear off and things are peaceful. I have identified travel as the trigger but I still feel like part of me likes playing the addict game. The only good things I can say about it are that it serves as a strong reminder of how easy it is to fall into one’s old ways and it is not dehabilitating like alcohol. Still, it has to stop.
So there you have it. The urges to drink went away. I haven’t been to a SMART meeting in 18 months but I still turn to your blog and others for guidance and reminders of what hell is like. I’m getting my career back on track. Yet I still play the addict game from time to time but not with the booze. Life in my second year was much easier than my first. I think this is because I overcame the Post-Acute-Withdrawal Syndrome and rebalanced myself. Also, the extra brain power I have from not drinking allows me to think of ways to improve my life. Oh, and I remain convinced I can never moderate alcohol.
And I believe it will get easier for you as well.
Hang in there! You’re doing great, Al!
Posted on November 8, 2011, in Alcoholism, Guest Post, Lessons in Recovery, Recovery and tagged Alcohol Recovery, alcoholism, In The Same Boat, Recovery, recovery friendship. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.