Monday, March 19, 2012

Changing While Sober

So, rushing headlong towards 6 months. Feeling optimistic. Life is sending me giant signals that sobriety is the best choice for me, and that's a good thing.

I skipped St Patty's Day, but I did get some partying in at a friend's birthday Friday night where I used the "alcoholic" word freely, and got some positive results. Basically a friend asked why I wasn't drinking and, tired of the long, boring answer I always give, I kind of shrugged and said "Well, I'm an alcoholic."

It turns out that there was a whole group of us there who, for one reason or another, weren't drinking. A few people have family members who have struggled with addiction, and so it just felt really good and comfortable to be sober in that mix. I ended up walking a friend to the subway stop and we talked about random stuff, and it was very pleasant. This friend is about 90 pounds soaking wet and doesn't drink often, so that conversation would never have happened if I were still on the booze.

The other thing that's happening is that I'm facing some higher-than-usual stress at work. I won't get into the details, but what's interesting to me is that I am having to deal with the stress without any chemical help. It's difficult, but I'm feeling a growing sense of accomplishment, because I really do feel like I am in charge of certain things, whereas if I were drinking I don't think I would feel as in control.

Now, what I HATE is that I'm having to deal with my "anxious brain" on equal terms: I can't drown out the voices and thoughts and doubts with a case of beer, and so I have to address them. I've been lying awake, running scenarios through my brain, sometimes to the point of feeling like a crazy person, and if I'm honest, I'd have to say that I much prefered just knocking myself out instead of dealing with these things like an adult.

Of course, this is what I have to do. Aside from being frustrated and all of those negative stress emotions, I'm curious and interested to see how I react. One of the effects of long-term alcohol abuse is that the brain doesn't develop, learn, and grow like a normal brain. In some ways, I'm still developmentally like someone in his early-twenties. Like most people, I made mistakes, but in the past I was preventing myself from learning from those mistakes.

In a lot of ways, the stress at work is echoing similar situations from other, past work places. In the past, I've reacted differently. I think I was more rash, more impulsive before. I was more easily overwhelmed by stress, and my first reaction was always to avoid, with disasterous results.

I feel more measured in my responses now. I'm about to make a big decision, a life-changing one (well, really, the decision is made, I just have to act on it...NERVES!), but I feel confident that I've considered the long-term. I've had the time to rationally think about my options. I've had conversations with friends and with the boyfriend, and while I have no real idea where I might be for now, I feel like I'm making the right choice. This is a confidence I would not have had if I was drunk (I might have had bravado, but not confidence).

My boyfriend told me the other day, while we were talking about these issues, that I've grown a lot since he met me, and it's true. I am a more responsible person. Part of that is I guess just plain old growing up, but I think part of it is being sober, too. It's not that you need to be sober to mature, but for me alcohol was blocking my growth. It's good to be rid of it.

1 comment:

  1. Hey! Love your writing. Thanks for your comment. Look forward to following your ups and downs, we're at the same point. We'll beat that bloody booze. Cheers xxx