Years ago, back in my first attempt at sobriety, there was a blog I read (can't remember where, though) by someone who was just a few months ahead of me in the sober timeline. She wrote with humour and insight, and a few of her entries stuck with me. Her blog warned me about "drunk dreams" before I encountered them myself, and in a lot of ways helped me to form my own ideas about sobriety and my addiction.
One entry she wrote was called "Better or Worse?" and I've been thinking about that one a lot lately. It was about how when you go to the eye doctor, they put you in the "lens machine" (whatever it's called) and ask you to compare and contrast several sets of lenses, asking you which lens is better, which one is worse. The optometrist would switch back and forth, and sometimes the two lenses were so close that it was difficult to tell which one really was better. I wear glasses myself, so the analogy stuck.
The point of her entry was that there comes a point in sobriety where you start to wonder if life really is better without the booze. The objective answer is pretty much "hell yes, what the heck are you thinking???" but sometimes, especially if you're having a bad string of days, or are feeling that boredom that sometimes comes with being sober, it gets difficult to see the difference.
Today is my 7 months sober day, I've been unemployed for just over a month, and I think I'm feeling a little bit depressed. For some reason, I'd thought that I would pick up a new job much more quickly than it's looking like it will take now. Even if my expectations were reasonable, having no job to go to stops being awesome by about day 9, at least for me. I would never have described myself as someone who needs to stay busy, but, well, I guess I am.
On paper, if I were drinking, this would have been a disaster. Right now, I'm sending out resumes, I'm answering the phone, I'm helping to keep the apartment clean, I'm basically pulling my weight and doing what I need to do to keep myself and the boyfriend sane, and to make sure that when opportunity knocks, I'm not passed out on the couch with a wicked hangover. If I were drinking, I'd have blown through my savings in about two weeks, I might have put off important tasks (like applying for Employment Insurance), I'd be pissing off the boyfriend, I'd be miserable and would be far more than "a little bit" depressed. The last time I was without work this long, I WAS a drinker, and that escapade ended with me being evicted and having nowhere to go.
So, better or worse? Definitely better.
Except, today is one of the first really nice days outside. It's patio weather. It's "cold beer on the balcony" weather. Mojitos with friends, sangria at the bar, grab a cold one and come on over because summer's almost here!
And this is where the analogy about the eye doctor falls down for me. Because when the optometrist is flipping between those two lenses, and it's difficult to tell them apart, that's because the lenses are so close to each other that they're practically identical. It's not easy to tell them apart, because they're almost the same.
When I look at my life with booze and without, we're talking about two completely different worlds. There is nothing the same about them at all. The idea that it would make no difference, that's an illusion. It seems like they're comparable only because there's something wrong with me. Its like doing the lens test with someone who's blind: that they can't tell the difference between the two lenses isn't a problem with the test, it's a problem with the blind guy. If that guy is smart, he'll stop asking himself which lens is better, and will get out of that chair and find himself a seeing eye dog and a white cane...tools that will actually HELP him live his life.
Today, I'm not asking myself if it is better to be sober or if it is worse. That question has already been answered. Today, to celebrate my 7 months, I'm reminding myself that things are pretty good.
And in fact, between my coming up with the idea for this post and now, I've had two calls about possible jobs that will, with luck, turn into interviews. I've also checked online and my first Employment Insurance payment will come in tomorrow, and it's not too bad.
So, right now, better or worse? Definitely better.
Oh, and PS: Thanks a bunch to all you guys making comments. Makes me a little nervous knowing that I'm writing for an audience now (but then, why the heck do an online journal, eh?), but it also makes me feel better and more accountable. So, thanks.
PPS: Today is NOT 7 months. I quit on October 5th, and when I looked at the little date thingy on my computer and saw "3/5/2012" I was all "Oh, the 5th already?! Time flies!" But it is not March 5th, it is May 3rd. Everything else in this post is (more or less) accurate, however.