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This Is How I Become More Than I Was

Fall is a tough time of year for me. I feel like a butterfly in reverse, receding into a sticky and slow chrysalis. When you have a seasonal depression problem, it can feel like a regression, a backwards slide. It feels like failure.

my latte at Atlantis

This isn't the truth, though. I just have an illness. I can feel like things are backsliding when they are, in fact, moving forward quite tickety boo. I can't feel it, though, at the moment.

human statue at the farmer's market

It'll come back to me. It always does. Those of you with seasonal depression know what I'm talking about.

last bits of lunch

This year is harder than other years, though. One year, one month, and ten days ago, I quit drinking.

I spent most of the first year dealing with sweeping lifestyle changes and not getting high. Other emotions? The hard emotions coming out of my real self, the self not numbed by alcohol, were so distant behind the noise of not drinking that I barely felt them. I can see that now.

grocerying it up at Nature's Best

Upon the first anniversary of my sobriety, a handful of people congratulated me by saying Now you can begin the real work of being sober. I nodded to myself and smiled and hoped that they were wrong.

They were not wrong.

I'm over the hard beginning stages of kicking my old habit of drinking myself into a black hole every other night, but now I'm a raw nerve. I'm all vulnerable and frayed and tired and overwraught and naked and uncomfortable.

It turns out that if you spend over twenty years drinking every time you have a strong emotion, good or bad, there is a lot of stuff to get through at the end of it all. Nothing goes away just because you got drunk enough to forget most of it.

Glee gum!

It's still brilliant, though, this having a life I've chosen over one that lead me by the nose, despite the tears and the bad dreams and the urge to smoke every cigarette I see and imagine and remember smoking back to when I was fifteen and learned how to french inhale.

I have to remember that this is how I learn to be free, or at least more free. This is how I become more than I was and more than I am.

Despite these moments of self-doubt and heaviness, I am living a life I love. I get to tell, hear, and help mould stories for a living. This is the seed of fantastic.

cats apparently love beet greens

I just need to remember that these difficult feelings do not mean that I'm sinking.

This is swimming.

It's just that sometimes swimming is lazily floating around a lake on an inflatable tube with tropical fish printed on it, and sometimes swimming is slogging your way back to hide under an overturned boat in a sudden storm.

In either case, the next day looks pretty good from where you are, as long as you don't drown, and we all know that I suck at drowning.