It usually happens to some extent every year. A little before the anniversary of my sobriety date, I get squirrelly. I get anxious. Restless, irritable and discontent. Excited but scared. Proud but cautious. This year seems worse than previous ones. Maybe it’s the number 7. Seven seas. Seven continents. Seven days of the week. Seven colors of the rainbow. Seven years of sobriety, God-willing, on May 28th. Many people would say I shouldn’t even write that and risk jinxing myself. But I do. Because it’s an important date. It’s the day my life changed for the better.
So why squirrelly? Why anxious? Do I want to pick up a drink? No. Have I thought about it? Many times. It’s a bittersweet weekend for me. Memorial Day weekend in 2012 was the last time I drank. And I drank a lot. And then some. My hands shook at 11 am until I got some wine in me. The weekend ended with me admitting that I was powerless over alcohol. That my life had become unmanageable. I made the decision to get help and it was the best thing I have ever done. It was hard as hell, but 2553 days later, I have not had a drink. I had that scare I wrote about in my last post (A Sip Not a Slip), when I accidentally picked up a drink with vodka in it, but I have not intentionally picked up a drink in a long, long time.
From what I have learned over these past nearly 7 years, my squirrelly feelings are quite common among people in recovery. There’s something about facing the anniversary of the last drink that brings up a lot. I look at the weekend ahead, which will be filled with those #^%@#& red Solo cups at pools, backyard barbeques, parties, etc. Coolers filled with cold beer. Wine glasses with beads of sweat dripping down the side. And more. And then I think about making it through the weekend to Tuesday. And about reaching another milestone in this personal battle. And I think about how much better my life is without the booze. Without the hangovers. Without the blackouts. Without the poison that took its toll on my body.
Don’t get me wrong…life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows just because I don’t drink. The shitstorms still come, and if you looked at the Doppler radar in my life right now, you’d see a huge storm raging right above me that’s not clearing for quite some time. But, as I’ve heard repeatedly, there’s no problem that picking up a drink won’t make worse. Jose Cuervo has no power over the storm clouds. But my Higher Power does. Sometimes I write what I need to read, hear, and remind myself.
“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try and do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”– Anne Lamott