Tomorrow is the five-month anniversary of my sobriety, and I feel awful.
I am an open sore, deep and wide and weeping. I am the exposed muscle and nerve, like that time I cut the inside of my knuckle open with the sewing scissors and felt the air sting down to the bone through my bloodless cut.
The day to day, five months in, is easier than it was in the beginning. I like being sober. In fact, I love it. I feel clean in a way that I have not ever before, and where I once had a drinking calendar I scheduled my life around, I now have a life.
Whatever. You probably get it. Sobriety does good things for a drunk. I'm boring myself.
The thing is, the thing I have not yet wrapped my mind around because it seems so damn impossible to a person such as myself who has not spent so much as a week sober since she was fifteen, I have to come to terms with the fact that I will never be high again.
You and you and you and you — you all know who you are, and you were well-meaning, so don't take this the wrong way — have told me to try yoga or breathing exercises or this diet or that diet or religion or this really amazing tea, and you are all, at least partially, wrong. Those things are healthy, and healthy things will make me feel good, but they are not going to get me so high that the world falls down the length of a long funnel into a small spot of light I can flick away for twelve hours at a stretch. Getting really loaded was never about feeling good. It was about feeling remarkably altered, so remarkably messed up that the non-intoxicated me of a few hours before seemed distant and false and small. I was committed to being messed up.
Yoga can fuck itself. Tea can fuck itself.
I don't mean that, really. Yoga would probably be good for me, and I've taken to regular tea drinking, but knowing that I can't be high again is like knowing that I can't go home again, and it's something I have to grieve.
I didn't realize that until just a few days ago. I was standing in a cafe with a friend who was telling me to do yoga, and I was trying to come up with the words that would help a non-addict understand why that was not the answer to this addict's present problem, and I looked out the window at an older building that reminded me of the kinds of buildings I and my friends lived in when I was younger, and I felt my long history with being high, so high sometimes that I felt ecstatic and disembodied and brilliant. The memory of my history settled into the flesh of me, and I realized that I was sad to say goodbye to it, to the possibility of it recurring ever again.
It's not just the part about my body wanting me to drink and get stoned and my mind's urge to self-medicate and forget things. It's about having to artificially arrest myself of the right to throw my consciousness headlong into lunacy.
Don't worry. I'm not going to run out and throw myself headlong into lunacy again. The merits of my sobriety are too great. I am present and alive in my life in a way I've never known before. I am, though, going to grieve the hell out of feeling myself spin out against the stars like silk from a spider's spinnerets. That was fantastic. I've been there, I loved there, but there is a house a can no longer inhabit, not with the hangovers and the distraction and the self-doubt and the infantile selfishness, not with the sadness and bitterness and self-loathing. Over the last few years, I would crawl up inside my own brain and wallow there in a morass of self-pity that made very little sense, I was so drunk. It was pathetic.
Even with that long, slow, sad end to my years of intoxication, I will still grieve the parts I loved — no matter if I take up yoga or if this tea rejuvinates my poor, soft organs — because there were parts I did love once very much, even if I can no longer tolerate their price, even if now they only ring hollow.