I’m starting a new series today, Learning to Write, which will chronicle a return to sobriety. I started penning this in my head while I was running this morning, so please forgive the kind of runner-ramble tendency.
I made a choice during the summer to experiment–to see if I could learn to be a “good drinker.” I called it, at the time, learning to have an adult relationship with alcohol. My hypothesis (quite frankly) for the pseudo-experimental indulgence was that I would not be able to teach myself to drink normally (whatever that means), but I wanted to try to overcome the fear that was associated with alcohol and me.
The context: Last year, I had the best two semesters ever….fantastic classes. Even met a student who challenged me intellectually every single day–I could not go to class and wing it. I had to be not just on my game, but reaching beyond it. Which rocked. I remember, vividly, the first moment I realized that he was pushing me and, better, I didn’t have to be afraid of my brain, that I could run with it in class and that relying on material of the preceding 10 years was not necessary (I’d been clinging to the familiar in sobriety). For the first time in years, I felt fully awake and energized. I started researching again; writing again; thinking and dreaming and hoping, instead of being afraid. (R., should you ever read this–this is what I was talking about when I said thank you.)
I don’t like being afraid; fear makes me angry, but it also has some significant benefits, whether I like it or not, because the moment I decided that I also didn’t like being afraid of alcohol…well, you can see from the rest of the post where that lead.
I’ve only told one person about this, though several friends have borne witness and cheered me on. To all of you, and especially to CD, who really is my sanity-checker more often than he probably imagines, I must say thank you. To those for whom this constitutes a disappointment, either to discover the experiment or to discover the alcoholism–I am sorry. To the students of those classes last year, thank you. I LOVED the breathlessness that you provided me with–the engagement, and I want to keep feeling it. And, since drinking tends to preclude such excitement…
…the experiment is at an end, and it should have come to an end before this. I am frustrated with myself for an inability to “drink normal,” and I am irritated with myself for failing (even if it was more or less what I expected to happen in the first place). Irritation or no, I would be far more upset with myself if I failed to act on the years of accumulated knowledge and just knock this shit off. The oddest part of the last few months has been the self-awareness that accompanied the drinking. I knew with some incredible precision what I was up to and often pondered my actions and choices.
Know when I knew I was in trouble? I stopped listening to a couple of my favorite songs, including the one that this blog is titled after, because I felt guilty. Now that, my friends, is weird.
A couple of positives did come out of this, and I need to figure out how to replicate them in healthy ways. First, the obsessions were under better control (really, they were). Second, I was more likely to say what I was thinking, rather than hiding my opinions from G. Both of these are good things.
I have to confess though, the “mellow” that comes along with drinking is probably what stemmed the obsessing, and that is not a good thing. I stopped the active research, had to force myself to read and knit, and my poor bass sits dormant in the case. I actually prefer being wound-up, obsessive, and hyperactive to being mellowed. I really miss that nutcase; I hope to find her again quickly and put her to good use. I know she’s around, because she’s been hanging around at work (thank goodness) and finding the tasks that needed completion and invention there. At home, on the other hand, she’s been noticeably absent.
I did not preserve the electronic posts from the first time I sobered up, though I have all of the print diaries, but I intend to preserve them here this time. Why? So I can share and confess (proper like, you know?) and so I can be faced with it every single day. And, so I can mark progress on the white knuckle days. I won’t cross-post this particular series (as I do with most of my other rambles and kvetsches), but this is not an anonymous blog–many people know who I am, and I don’t mind if my colleagues and students see these posts, so don’t feel as if you’ve tripped into something I am ashamed of.
I am an alcoholic. I know this, and I have no intention of pretending otherwise to anyone. So, please, pull up a chair and share with me. We can put out demons out to pasture (aw, poor cows) and have a good time in the process.
The series will chronicle the return to sobriety, which, I’m sure, will have a few entertaining moments (like when the hyperactivity kicks back into high gear–watch out world!) no doubt, and the gifts that my particular Beautiful Disease–both alcoholism and OCD– provide…compassion, insight, and a peculiar ability to celebrate my hyperactivity–because it really is far more beautiful than it is annoying. I’d like to be able to show that to people.
At the same time, I am aware that boredom is what most often gets me into trouble, so I am setting two non-work related goals (got oodles of the work-related ones I am already working on–wanna hear??? *bounce, bounce*). First, I will write on this subject at least twice a week here and at least once a week on the research project at hand. Second (and far crazier), I’m training for a marathon. The Seattle Marathon is held on November 29, 2009 this year, and I’m going. So, I’ll also use the space to update the training (and bleg for good wishes).
Now, if only I could be assured that Loaded would be playing in Seattle then. Hey, Duff…any hope for me???
So, I hope you will join me as I Learn to Write Me again with honesty and humor and hyperactivity. Oh, and since you got the sobriety part already–here’s a training update: I ran/walked a 5K this morning (and met the sweetest Black Lab named Poodle during it!) in my neighborhood. I really need to find other routes. Locals–any suggestions?