day 156: when the dust settles

Unraveling the mess of packing up and walking away from an entire life has kept me up the past few nights. The February whirlwind of moving across the country, flying back and forth to LA twice, and learning how to rely on myself for day to day necessities out here in the country, has been nothing short of dizzying. But the skies are starting to clear and the dust is starting to settle, giving me the opportunity to think about everything that’s changed and where I stand today.

I asked my therapist what’s going to happen when I don’t have anything to do to keep busy. What’s going to happen when I’m not so tired at the end of the day and begin to get bored after the sun sets? I’ve always drank away the idleness, boozed up the silence and drowned out the night. I’m nervous that if all these things come to an end I will start filling the time with alcohol again.

She said what I’d expected her to say, “Go find an AA group.” Something I should’ve done four weeks ago. Something I keep telling her I will eventually do. Something I don’t want to do.

I’ve been lucky these past two months. Only twice did I almost drink, both times on the same day when being around alcohol was unavoidable. Once when passing sake glasses down a table and smelling the familiar aroma as it spilled on my hand. Remembering how I would drink a whole bottle for lunch, twice a week, at a sushi restaurant down the street from the office and how warm it made me feel. The second time at a brewery when friends were doing tastings and sharing a glass, comparing the smell and flavor of a milk stout, and I instinctively reached for the beer, salivating.

Not that those were the only times I’ve thought about alcohol. With each small milestone and each celebration over the last thirty days I’ve yearned to get drunk. It’s always disarming in the moment because being sober seems so silly when everyone else has a drink in hand. If they can handle it why am I making such a big deal over it? The consequences are drowned out by the memories of how good it feels to have a few, and how simple and easy it looks to do so.

But right on those memories’ heels is the shame of those people seeing me fail, and the thought of having to climb back out of a bottle days, weeks or months down the road. It never seems worth that first sip.

I know I’m not supposed to look into the future. I’m supposed to focus on today, get through these 24 hours, “one day at a time”. I’ve stopped looking back as much as I used to. That last drink is so far away. But it’s been giving me a lot more time to look elsewhere. When, really, I should be focusing on the now, I’m stuck staring forward. I ran away from this monster, have been running for 156 days, and it’s unsettling to realize that I haven’t really gained any ground. Somehow it got in front of me.

Who knows? Maybe it’s just a mirage.