Updated: Apr 6
I’ve always hated waiting. I suppose that’s not an original thought. We all hate waiting; it's why smartphones are such a revelation. I hated waiting so much that I started drinking about it. I discovered drinking can be a form of time travel. People are being boring and talking about their home repair?
Drink yourself into the next hour.
Or at least drink until it’s fun.
Mostly I drank to force my brain into submission. Being drunk was the one time where I could make my brain be quiet from the incessant planning, the constant “what ifs” and constantly questioning people’s motives. I didn’t trust anything about myself or the world around me. Drinking made existence bearable.
I drank to force my body into submission. Hangovers where the one time I allowed myself to just be still. To watch netflix all day. To eat whatever I wanted. To lay on the couch all day and do nothing. To not force myself to limp around on an arthritic hip.
I drank to temper my own expectations. If I was excited about something, if I was looking forward to something happening the next day I would get ungodly drunk. I would get so drunk that I'd be hungover and feel an inch from death for it. It was the ultimate in self sabotage.
I drank to celebrate. This was the saving grace in my mind. The thing that kept me from admitting I was an alcoholic for so long. You see, I was a happy drunk. I never drank at home. I never drank alone. I always wanted to drink when I was excited so naturally all my friends were shocked when I told them I was quitting.
“But you’re such a fun drunk,” they’d all say as if that made it any easier.
Now I’m at almost 1,000 days sober. Nearly three years and we are in the middle of a period where the whole world is collectively waiting. Waiting for justice, waiting for a vaccine, waiting for a new president. The last six months have been the longest of my life. Of everyone’s lives. Drinking makes things easier in the moment, I get that. But in the long run it makes them so much more cloudy.
I’m sober and trying to learn how to meditate, how to trust people, how to be calm, how to unlearn all my old coping mechanisms. Sometimes I want to fall back on bad habits and rush things so I can ruin them to take control of them by knowing the ending. It’s not healthy. It’s not my best quality but I’m getting better at learning how to suppress it. I don’t want to sabotage myself anymore.
I was driving down the street by my house the other day, anxious, agitated, my mind reeling in anger about something I had half imagined. It was then I had the distinct thought, “Oh, this is exactly when I used to drink.”
Naming it felt powerful. It felt like that scene in the Matrix where everything moved slowly and the characters were able to proceed at their regular speed. I still felt terrible and anxious but removing myself from the pattern by recognizing it felt like a remarkable improvement.
When I was in my early 20’s I worked at the local mall. I worked at a bookstore and a subway in the mall. I always had multiple jobs. I’d work at subway and watch people come in at off times like 11 or 3. They were always taking their time. They weren’t owned, they weren’t being watched and they weren’t in a terrible uniform. I envied them. I envied how they owned their time. You could see it just in the way they walked. Confident and curious. They had freedom. I wanted to be them. That was nearly twenty years ago but I made a promise to myself that I would be one of them someday.