Sobriety

I haven't been counting the days but it must be almost two months since I've smoked any pot, and it's at least five years since i've been this sober. It's also nearly a month since I went off my anti-depressant medication, and I've cut back my alcohol intake by perhaps ninety percent.

The interesting thing is that something seems to have finally switched in my mind, and I just stopped. I know I can't take it for granted, and that relapse will be a danger for the rest of my life, but nevertheless something magical has happened that i can't explain. For I've done it in the way that every expert says not to; by just deciding to - alone, without structuring it, without any professional or personal help, without implementing any replacement behaviours or activities, and without keeping any record or journal of my usage, activities, thoughts or feelings.

In a way i'm not surprised. Near the heart of my nervous breakdown a couple of years ago was an awareness of all this on the horizon, I was just too naive about it, too impatient for it and too ready to talk about it, and perhaps most of all, too psychotic, to make it real.

Funnily enough one thing that seemed necessary for me to be able to quit was to have no one in my face preaching the dogma of addiction at me. Because a parade of work psychiatrists did this while i was suspended and my fitness for duty was reviewed, as did my own psychiatrist and all the psychologists i visited [before i lost my temper with them all and quit therapy], and as did my sister and parents.

But somehow I survived my wonderful insanity without losing my job, my family, my friends, my mind or my life. What is hard now isn't staying sober. Sure I get the urges and I miss getting high sometimes. Strangely however the urges are not hard to resist anymore, because i understand how empty and meaningless they are, but finally with my heart as well as my head.

What is hard about being sober is feeling my own emotional reality, because I have clearly suppressed and controlled my deeper moods for long years with marijuana. Even more frightening is the likelihood that i'm not just experiencing 'what lies beneath', but also all the noise and damage i have done to my spirit and neurology with my long years of substance abuse [i include alcohol here and i also took speed and acid in my youth and even tried heroin]. Because sober i feel more bipolar than ever, my mood swinging between excitement, rage, sadness, tranquility and depression. Often multiple times a day.

The good thing is i am dealing with it. I am holding steady enough not to let any of my mood swings lead me into overly risky behaviour and i'm keeping it together forty hours a week in a very challenging job. Because in the past this reality is what saw me running back into my favourite fog. I'd always produce some dramatic emotional explosion after i was sober for a couple of weeks and the aftermath would see me relapse.

Yet life is far more like an onion than a box of chocolates, and now that i'm sober with all the new consciousness of my recent suffering, i can see how far older and far deeper addictions lie beneath the simple narcotic one. Things like analytical thought, ************, computer games, DVDs and so forth, and it's these that i now wrestle with. It's not that i didn't sense they were problems before, but i am beginning to see just how deeply their roots reach into me, and how violently my spirit churns about them. ************ particularly. It's fitting though, for i've long been a self-absorbed hedonist. But I've even cut this back by perhaps a third as i wrestle with it today like a did with smoking yesterday.

And i'm feeling now that at the root of it all is anger. Because this is the dominant new emotional that sobriety is bringing to me, and something i buried so deep and so long ago that almost no one who knows me in 'real life' actually realizes I'm angry. And having repressed this for well over twenty years i'm not expecting to get to the roots of it anytime soon.

But so is the task i set myself, and for me, this is what life is about.
turtlesplash turtlesplash
41-45, M
3 Responses Dec 5, 2012

Good job so far, man, and good luck. I like how you touched on understanding in both one's head and heart on the issue of addiction. Because that is something that I think is important Also I wanted to say that I really like how you write. And I totally get how sobriety and the roots of my own addictions/issues makes me feel bi-polar and have a kind of cyclical moodiness and explosion that happens every so often...and trying to hang tough through it, and finding a balance without doing anything too risky. I don't know how you do it without replacement behaviors though...But then I'm a huge advocate of replacement behaviors. lol. Or maybe it's cause...my heart will cringe anytime I hear myself say when I'm alone that "God I need a drink" and I remember the kinds of things that angry self absorbed people are capable of... and I try to make myself do other things to release my built up emotions...because if I don't do those replacement behaviors I just wallow in the feelings of it all...and I get self absorbed and moody for days...even if I don't go and relapse into bad habits that aren't very healthy.

the fact of the matter is that without replacement behaviours i eventually fail - my writing here is full of a strange combination of insight and ego - your remarks have lead me to reread it and it's surprising how it makes me cringe to see my naive pride and vanity - while i was boasting about slaying the demon it was reforming itself behind me out of my complacency - i didn't make it past three months in the end and haven't been that sober since - the progress i have made is that i've managed to have more days off within my smoking blocks than i've done before - i am still getting closer to true cessation because i don't enjoy being high much anymore [it's a kind of self-flagellation] - i just shared a joint at a friends tonight after three days sober and it made me feel really awful - but i need months sober to have any chance of facing up to who i really am

Everyone has moments like that, I know I've felt and done the same thing. It's easy to think one has conquered something when it's merely a sleeping dragon at the time and not rearing it's head.
Good luck, man. I hope you get to the point of sobriety that you want to reach. Work hard, but don't beat yourself up too much over slip ups. You can be human ya know... You don't have to be a superman, just you in figuring things out.

I think most people feel mood swings in their daily life. We just notice them more.

yeah - they've actually settled down a bit since i wrote this - going through the same cycle, but slower, and spending longer with the good ones

No further words are needed...just that I understand the entirety of this revelation, it's like removing a mask forged from years of suppression and finally seeing the light, you are now...free of suffocation, breathing fresh air upon your mind, body and soul.