I’ve struggled all my life.
It’s just in my bones.
As far back as I can recall, my flesh has been in a restless revolt against the skin that holds it. Long before I took my first drink, life felt like a struggle. I struggled to fit in. I struggled to feel normal. Other people just said and did things. And I’d watch them and suffer from this longing to be able to just say and do things like them. It really didn’t matter what they were saying or doing. It was that they were saying or doing things without insecurity and doubt—like two hands—choking them out with every breath. People could just be without worrying how or why they were being.
I didn’t know any other way to feel about life. The best analogy I know to describe it is that life felt like a movie. The people in my life were the actors, the show, and I was the audience. I was an observer of life, not a participant. And I always struggled with exactly why I felt that way and what I could do to change it.
Then I sipped some beer for the first time.
It was sensational, let me tell you. It subdued the stranglehold anxiety had on me, shushed that voice that was perpetually telling me I was doing it all wrong.
That warm, discarded can of Budweiser that I snuck into the bathroom was an elixir. My struggles melted away. Life felt, all of a sudden, like a worn-in tee-shirt on casual Friday.
Unfortunately, it never got better than that first buzz. No matter how deep into the research of the alcohol solution I went—including experimenting with mind-bending chemicals, sedatives, uppers, downers, and everywhere-in-betweeners—I couldn’t replicate the rush of that initial discovery. I reinvented the wheel in every way I could imagine, but I wasn’t going anywhere.
Instead of struggling with how I fit into the world, I was now struggling with drugs and alcohol. I eventually lived in a desperate state of mind, wistful for the ways substances used to make me feel, believing that if I found the right balance, they’d make me feel that way again.
I chased that illusion until it nearly killed me.
To get sober took coffee, cigarettes, and a bunch of grown men’s shoulders to cry on; to stay sober required a return to that shell of a boy, riddled with anxiety and struggling to fit in.
Treating my alcoholism means treating what made me so irritable and restless that my only solution was to drink alcohol in the first place.
But, what I’ve discovered in my new clean and sober life is that the struggle hasn’t ended. Being free from alcohol does not make me free from alcoholism; no more than being free from drugs makes me free from addiction. The struggle doesn’t leave; it only transforms.
What do I struggle with today?
Getting too comfortable makes me squirm.
My wife wanted to order this “the snuggle is real” pillow. It’s likely that the desire to snuggle is the biggest difference between me and her. She’s worked hard to convert me. But the truth is, I’m just too accustomed to discomfort to play along.
In my heart I know the world wants me comfortable so I can quietly go about my life, pay my taxes, and die ignorant of the fact that my death was a slow suffocation. Maybe I’m just being difficult, but I can’t shake the feeling that there are forces around us first-world dwellers that act like a hypnotist’s watch, lulling us into the acceptance of the status quo.
The difference between accepting the status quo and knowing true happiness is a radical one. It’s the difference between paying your mortgage and coming home to your wife and family every night. One is doing what you have to do because you have to do it; the other is wanting to do what you have to do out of love.
I wouldn’t know the miracle of the mundane without first struggling through all the ways that made everyday living miserable.
Just like there is no way out but through, there is no true happiness without struggle. It seems like mastering discomfort is the only way for me to become comfortable.