Day 80. Life is good.
I was on Amtrak yesterday and walked by a guy sitting next to his a guitar with a bottle of beer on his tray. It looked so nice. I used to drink those on trains. (Amtrak is unimaginative when it comes to craft beer, so I knew this one well.) It was also 11 a.m., so I wasn’t exactly envious of the guy.
All day I felt sort of beer-oriented, as I sat at my table writing and sipping my ginger cranberry tea and my dark creamy coffee. You know what’s cool? A gool ol’ fake beer would have been just fine. Amtrak doesn’t stock those and I didn’t pack any with me. So I was left with the gentle fake beer thoughts, appreciating the state I was in, how relatively easy it was to live alongside my vague thirst and just persist/exist.
I do feel like I’m in a holding pattern. Still quite aware than I’m only newly alcohol-free. Feeling good and loving many things about this peaceful, expanding existence, and also trying to stay present to things in me that are less than settled.
There were a couple of times yesterday where a desire arose in me to have that alcohol escape again. Those three or four beers that would so effectively turn everything off inside my head, the deep dive. I stayed present with the desire, looked at it, felt the mix of emotions. I’m undecided about how close to go to those feelings. I’m afraid that something might trigger in me if I go too close and I’ll end up falling in.
This morning as I sat with my dark coffee, cat on my lap, notebook next to cat, I felt it was okay to take a couple of steps toward that memory of how it was to swim in alcohol as an escape. I want to better understand what she (somebody inside me) was seeking, what she so desperately wanted when she drank. (And what she so consistently failed to get.) So I walked mentally toward that hazy mass of memory of the dizziness, obliterated thought processes, and bizarrely short-lived euphoria.
I looked closely. I wanted to have a conversation with the addict, or at least hang out together side by side in silence. But what I found wasn’t what I imagined. It wasn’t a living thing (even an imaginary living thing). It was more like a robot. A machine, a piece of equipment, a thing with wires and metal walls and controls and sensors, nothing capable of thought or conversation, nothing with any personality or heart or attitudes or even fears and discomforts. It was a cold machine with programmed procedures.
It would seem that getting drunk is a matter of letting a machine go through its paces. Forsaking myself to some mindless force.
How does this make me feel? Relieved, for one thing. When I’m out and about (I’m on another work trip at the moment) and get overwhelmed or cold or tired and something in me decides that what I need is a couple of beers, rather than get into some long discussion inside myself, I can acknowledge that the thing wanting beer is a heartless, destructive machine. I love that. My arguments with myself and my demons (which I plan to write about shortly) feel so charged, as though there’s a real fight going on. But if it’s a piece of equipment that’s programmed to screw with me, no discussion is necessary or even possible. I can unplug it and shove it in the corner of the garage, inert, ready to gather dust, or rust.
I thought about what sort of machine it is. The metaphors that come to mind have to do with cutting and shredding — I guess that’s how I feel the effects of alcohol on me. (No smushing or pulling limb from limb, for example.) It’s a heavy-duty paper shredder and I’m the paper. Or it’s a table saw and I’m the four fingers that get cut off in the split second of a board getting pulled into the blade. This is a little gruesome — but so is addiction and the violence it exerts on my soul. Thinking of this force in me as a destructive machine is a gift today. I want it fully rusted as it sits in the garage through this spring’s rain storms, summer humidity, fall, winter snows, and around again. Rust is my friend.
Continuing through month three……