Six Months Sober and I’m Still Learning.

Today marks six months since my first day fully sober from any type of mind-altering substance. It’s been six months and three days since I was released from my second hospitalization in the course of five months. On the night of April 15th I began drinking as I always did with a glass of lemonade and a glass of vodka. I would take a small sip of lemonade, a few large gulps of vodka, and chase with another sip of lemonade, over and over, until my words slurred and my skin tingled. Only once I could speak without stumbling over my sentences would I consider myself close properly inebriated, but that didn’t keep me from continuing to drink. Marijuana held the main role in my using. I was always capable of smoking while drinking when I was using in college but during this past relapse I always ended up a little bit “weird.”

While under the influence I always found a way to take even the slightest perception of a tense tone from my fiancĂ©e personally and proceeded to strike back on the defensive. Looking back there was never a reason to be defensive, though, because the altercation existed entirely in my head. When we fought due to my antagonizing I would use at her, believing that would solve a problem. That was the only way I knew how to solve feelings of discomfort, anger, joy, fear, being upset. Drink. Smoke. Attempt to slow my brain with substances that failed to stop my thoughts long ago. No matter how much I ingested, the internal dialogue never to paused. What used to solve my problems now duplicated them and I wasn’t sure how to handle them.

On April 15th I interpreted a normal disagreement as an argument and progressed it into a fight. Already crossfaded, I abandoned the glass of vodka, switched straight to the bottle in the freezer, and swigged deeply. Already crossfaded, the alcohol went straight to my head and I passed into that state of viciousness. I continued to shout and she wanted it to stop, but once I started I was never able to step down from my heightened emotional state. She went next door to the neighbor’s house to get away from me, our neighbor’s husband came to our house to assure I was okay, and I was in the kitchen throwing the silverware drawer across the floor. Exactly the way my father used to. I saw a serrated knife slide across the floor and before I realized what was happening I clutched the handle in my hand and dug the blade down my arm. I knew it was down, not across, if you were trying to do it right.

A tourniquet was applied and the ambulance arrived quicker than four months earlier. I was accepted at the hospital and tested at a .26 blood alcohol content. Half the .46 of my near death in December but with double the physical damage from this attempt. Seventeen staples secured the gash and I spent the night holding myself in the hospital and insisting it was an accident; I couldn’t go to the psych ward again. By some sick grace I wasn’t placed on another 72-hour hold but when I went home in the morning, arm bundled tightly in shining white gauze, I immediately got high.

I needed to relax, after all.

Three days later, on April 19th, I made the decision to get sober. Again. I tried for those three days to maintain with marijuana but realized I was lying to myself. While I never made attempts or fought with Kate stoned, when I was honest with myself I saw my life was quickly slipping away in a series of dazed days and restless nights. My quality of life poor and the way I thought of myself abysmal, I knew I could continue on if I wanted to survive. Survival is no way to exist, though. I wanted to live. I gave away all paraphernalia cleared out the house, and set out to get sober. I wasn’t sure what the future held, whether I’d relapse again like I had last time, but I wanted to live.

Six months later I’m miles away from where I was and simultaneously only an arm’s length away from sliding right back. I can’t believe the six months passed so quickly. I do wish I started this blog as soon as I got sober or stuck with it from its origination in June, but my brain was muddled and I wasn’t ready to put to digital paper what I scrawled endlessly in notebooks. However, I’m learning that things work out exactly the way they’re supposed to and I wasn’t intended to start a blog then. I’m ready now, though, and hope that my story can help someone who is struggling the way I struggled. While our stories may not be identical, I imagine we can find commonality in the barren insides and cyclical thoughts.

Recovery from addiction and alcoholism is not easy but was the best decision I could have made. I gained the courage to finally come out after years of silence and stuffing. I didn’t believe I ever could and if I didn’t get sober I don’t think I ever would. I’m living constantly in learning mode. I’m making minor adjustments on a daily basis that make lasting impressions on my life. A friend told me a few months ago to appreciate every step of this journey that I’ve found myself on and this project helps me to do that. I’m setting goals and achieving pieces of them as the weeks pass. My next plan is to start rising an hour before getting ready so I can begin meditating and writing Morning Pages. I want to begin setting a positive start to my day rather than pressing snooze countless amounts of times until I’m leaping out of bed to get ready hurriedly. Starting my day in a rush leads to more scattered thoughts and I believe this is the next step in my journey.

While I’m nowhere near where I’d like to be, I’m farther away from where I don’t want to be. I’m endlessly grateful for that. I’m reading more, writing more, learning more. I’m meeting amazing people both online and offline who are helping me along this path and whom I hope I help as well. I’ve got a long way to go but I’m appreciating the small moments of joy in each day and I believe I’ll begin documenting those as well.