Keep It Green
Sober anniversaries make me squirrelly, and I’m finally beginning to understand why.
Today marks 9 years clean and sober.
That is a fucking miracle. And while I will go and celebrate tomorrow night with my 12-step posse, the celebration is always complicated. What I mean is
I can’t celebrate my first day sober without remembering my last day drunk.
Celebrations take me back to the old days, and not in a nostalgic Run-D.M.C. reminiscent way, but in a “damn, look at what I called living” kind of way. There is no escaping what life used to be like on your sober anniversary. At the same time, you celebrate the way life is for you now.
And somewhere in this deep swirl of shame and joy, you eat cake, pick up a chip, and stay up past your bedtime drinking coffee.
Nine years ago today I stood naked in a dusty Mexican town, 200 miles south of the border. I left my clothes and possessions in a church, where I believed I heard the voice of God shake the earth, and the hand of God touch my soul. Perhaps I did. The message I heard was “Life is over.” In a way it was.
October 13, 2007 was my personal Armageddon; a new self rose from the cindery ashes of my addiction.
In another, more
accurate clinical way, I was strung-out, sleepless, and experiencing the tremens and hallucinations of a 24-year-old undergoing a drug-induced psychosis. Things I saw and heard weren’t real. I know that today. But the message was clear: “Life (as I knew it) was over.”
This—dear readers, friends, and family—is what it means to keep it green. I keep the memory of who I was and what I was doing fresh in my mind. I don’t share about my final days in Los Angeles for false pride. I’m not open about my stint in the psychiatric ward to garner sympathy. I don’t write about the the joys of simple living—the miracle of the mundane—to boast.
I keep it green to stay alive.
When I forget where I came from, I start taking credit for where I am today. I take credit for my sobriety. And that just ain’t right.
I’m sober by your help, your support, your advice. Your phone calls and long conversations over coffee. Your step work. Your guidance. Your love.
I am sober because of you.
If I forget that—if I lose my gratitude—I would drink again.
“Keep It Green” is one of the many sober slogans that have become significant in my life. These slogans used to irritate me. Now I cling to them like a drowning man to his life-preserver. For more in the “Slogan Series” click here.