I haven’t had a drink or taken an illicit drug since December 8, 2003. I’m grateful for my sobriety. I don’t remember much during the time just before and just after my sobriety date, but I do remember well the night I attended my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. I immediately knew I was in the right place and I cried through the whole thing.
I can’t take my sobriety for granted. After taking my last drink, I couldn’t figure out why my life continued to spiral downward. It didn’t make sense to me. Why was my life getting worse rather than getting better? Eventually it did make sense though, because by being sober I was eventually and finally accurately diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Most of you have heard this all before, but I’m bringing it up because I feel cheated.
This picture is Hermosa Beach Pier Plaza. It’s where I frequently begin my beach walks, It’s lined with restaurants, bars and some specialty shops and leads right out to the pier and the ocean. Almost all the bars and restaurants have outside seating and that’s where I get pissed off. As I’m walking past I see the tables full of people laughing, joking, sharing stories and all of them have a drink in their hand.
Life Ain’t Fair
So, why can’t I do that anymore? I have bipolar disorder, anxiety issues and to top it off, I have alcoholism? Life ain’t fair! I remember those days, sitting with friends, laughing and drinking it all up. These are the things my brain tells me, but then I stop and think about. If I did all those things, why did I have to go to AA? The simple fact is that I never was one of those people. I tried to be, but I wasn’t. Sure, I’d sit out on patios with friends and down the beers, but it never stopped at that. I would keep going and keep going. The next day my friends would tell me all the crazy exploits that I couldn’t remember, because I almost always blacked out. When I pass by those bars I don’t grieve for my past, I grieve for something I never had. That’s the reality I need to keep in my back pocket at all times. It takes work. As much work as it takes to deal with depression and mania. It’s just another log on the fire.
Count my Blessings and Never forget
I shouldn’t be having a pity party over this. It’s something to celebrate. I do get to go to these restaurants and bars. I do get to laugh and joke with my friends and swap stories, and I don’t need alcohol to do it. I guess the point of all this is to remind myself how good I have it. I’ve learned to laugh, joke, swap stories and have a good time without that “buzz.” That’s something to be grateful for. It’s nice to know I can do those things without having a five-dollar beer in my hand.
I need to do these little reminders for myself to keep myself out of self-pity and remind myself how good life is. Sure, mania sucks. Sure, depression sucks. Sure, anxiety sucks. But, at least I’m dealing with them through sober eyes. Yes, being an alcoholic sucks too, however, being a sober alcoholic is a helluva lot better than being an alcoholic who drinks. That’s something I can never allow myself to forget