Grown

Dan Maurer wrote “I didn’t get sober just to write about recovery.”

Neither did I.

There was certainly a time when not drinking was everything. I knew that survival hinged on the fragile truth that I could not live through another spree. Saying ‘no’ was a well-rehearsed action. (Read here)

I have changed.

I caught the 3-minute podcast of Robert McClellan this weekend. I’ve heard folks argue whether to say they are recovered or in recovery. I prefer Robert’s take. Why would I claim either? Why would I want to restore my old self when I can grow into a new one? I am much happier as a man without those particular doubts, fears, and inadequacies that produced the need to drink.

I have grown.

I have grown beyond the person I recovered in early sobriety. I no longer define who I am by what I resist doing; I define myself by what I do.

This became clear to me this weekend. I was surrounded by drinks and drinkers. Drinking is a culture, and like David Foster Wallace wrote, “Culture is the water we swim in.”

 

I didn’t work Friday.

Instead, I attended a charity golf tournament with colleagues. While I technically “played golf,” “attended the event” is better phrasing. The beer cart offered me more cold drinks than I made clean hits of the golf ball. I am such a poor golfer that I didn’t reach my goal of one good shot in 18 holes.

With everyone else in my foursome drinking; with me hurling sod divots around instead of hitting the ball, you’d think the beer cart would become appealing. I heard the question “you sure?” with each pass. Surely the persistence of cold beer on a beautiful spring day while away from work and family would marinate in the ol’ alcoholic brain. But, the fact is


the role of alcohol has been completely eradicated from my life.


I don’t need the social lubricant; I’m quite comfortable (my wife says a little too comfortable) in who I am.

I don’t need to suppress my inhibitions; nothing feels like it’s ‘holding me back’ in social situations.

Free from needing alcohol, I find it amazing how little I want it.

 

The next night I celebrated my friend’s 5 years of sobriety at a dance party featuring Biz Markie.

The dance floor was a sea of Wu-Tang t-shirts, acid wash jeans, and fluorescent sweat bands. While it was 80s versus 90s night, every genre of music won: old school hip-hop, glam metal, grunge rock, gangsta’ rap, even boy band.

It was a night of throwbacks and samplers. One deejay played 15 seconds of each song before blending it into the next jam. The audience nodded knowingly at the first few iconic notes of “Billy Jean” or Blink 182’s “Please Tell Me” or Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right.”

It was like re-living my adolescence through song. Each tune was a new stroll down memory lane. Only memory lane for me is a dark, poorly lit street—the easier route home that you avoid at night. Cover bands raised toasts: “Whose drinking with us tonight!?” I recalled the songs through a former drunken haze, like staring at a distant fog.

Sober, I danced and sang along; I had a blast.

Watching the drunken revelry, I couldn’t stop wondering why. Why did I think I needed to drink to oblivion in order have fun? Why did I spend so much time eying down bartenders instead of dancing?

It reminded me that drinking would do nothing for me today. I am nonplussed by it. Alcohol’s existence or lack of existence is of no consequence to me any more.


Drunk and high, I was a fish in a fishbowl. Recovery showed me new waters. As a sober man, I swim in the great sea of life.

19 Responses to “Grown

  • Thanks for the mention!! Nice thoughts, as always. – ddm

  • Really good piece Mark. Had one like this awhile back about not being defined by the booze. I too am ever evolving and growing and don’t define myself by my past or a disease I may have but who I am now. Thanks for insight and inspiration as always you do.

    • Always great to have you here and commenting Kip. It’s not who we are anymore.

      • Once, while I was freaking out and asking myself whether or not I could manage to stay sober while I was waiting for my sentencing (about five years ago), I called my sponsor. He told me, “You’re not that person anymore. When you have an itch, it’s just the old you screaming for you to come back. You don’t have to.”

        Really helped me. I love your blogs and our friendship guys.

  • drink may have been eradicated from your life mar.but,for your own good,never become complacent.keep your eye on the ball,saves divitsgood piece

  • Such deep thoughts. I love it. 🙂 Thanks.

  • Two new things to read and listen to in here…good. I get what you mean about not missing alcohol anymore. When this realization first surfaced, it surprised and delighted me. I’d say it’s the final piece to the puzzle but this weekend a craving hit, which also surprised me. It had been a good long while since I had one and it passed quick, a reminder that although everything changes, my relationship with alcohol never will. Great post, Mark.

    • Thanks Kristen. I need that reminder. I’m sure I will feel a craving again. It was just this weekend when I really noticed for a consistant time that I just had grown out of alcohol completely. Always vigilant. Got to be. I need that reminder. I know I’m not ‘cured.’
      I hope you enjoy Real Sobriety’s podcast.

      • I hope my comment didn’t come across as a warning or downer. It genuinely took me by surprise but I was not overly troubled. It was like oh this feeling. Later that evening I went to a social thing with my family and had the best time, high on life and Rita’s water ice.

        • High on life and Rita’s water ice! Haha.
          Well, I took it as a warning for myself. Not as a downer. Not negatively or personally, no.
          You know I’m in Maryland? I was reading about your ancestry on the Eastern Shore. My wife grew up in PA as well.

          • I grew up outside of Annapolis and still have family there. Where are you? The eastern shore town is not too far from Salisbury and I hope to drag my kids along for a visit in June. Just us and a million mosquitos haha.

          • I’m outside DC. Just outside. I know I’ll be in Annapolis on June 7. For the day.

          • Neat. We lived in Alexandria many years ago and I still miss the DC area. But not the traffic. We’ll be in the Annapolis area days before you go…I’ll leave the light on for you 🙂

  • Hi Mark!
    I can’t wait for the day that I know deep down I am happily not a drinker.
    There are times I feel this now, but not always.
    I have grown, too. I often overlook this growth because it happens slowly at times.
    I am also a very poor golfer!!!
    xo
    Wendy

    • It happened for me slowly and surely. I’m 8 years into this thing. In my first year my cravings were off the chain. Thanks for the visit. From one untipsy teacher to another. Prayers for good health too!

  • Great post! Here’s my favorite quote: “Only memory lane for me is a dark, poorly lit street—the easier route home that you avoid at night.” Wow.
    I read an interview of a former drinker once who said, “I didn’t so much quit alcohol as transcend it.” I love that idea. I would like to think I am transcending as well. You clearly have. ; )

    • Thanks for that. I was reminded by a friend via FB that I am not cured. That’s true. I need to think about it like this. I transcend fresh every day when I do things like pray and talk to other alcoholics. If I don’t remember that and do that, cravings may very well come up again.

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