It’s been a fairly uneventful few days, but they’ve been spent sober, happy, and stable.
Thursday afternoon, around 4:30pm, I was invited by a coworker to join some people on the roof of our building for a beer. I elected to bring a can of diet soda and sat with my the group for a while, chatting, mostly enjoying the sunny, beautiful afternoon. After a bit, I got to chatting with one of my newest coworkers, a guy in his early 30s named Mike. Through our conversation, I learned that he is newly divorced, currently living with his parents, and that this new job is his first step in reaching stability again. His story was so familiar to me – nearly mirroring my own from two years ago – and I could see the fractured optimism in his eyes. He was smiling and laughing with us, but part of him wasn’t there.
I saw him drink a few full glasses of beer in the hour and a half that we were up there, and it was in that moment that I realized how important it is to avoid passing harsh judgment on anyone, whether they drink, do other drugs, or are completely sober… mostly because in him, I saw a past version of myself, the version that was so fucking destroyed by the loss of my marriage, home, and job at the same time. I felt so much empathy for his situation and, fortunately or not, I felt like I could understand at least a little bit of what he was going through.
But Mike did his best to keep the conversation light. He asked me about my schooling, talked about where he wanted to live once he gets his own place again, and we both chatted about how nice it is to bike to work. I can only hope that I can get to know him better as a friend and be a helping support for him as he gets himself back on his feet and finds his place here in our wonderful city – god knows I needed something like (in fact, I needed many somethings like that) that when I was going through my own divorce.
Friday afternoon, after getting home from work, I had a bunch of energy stored up from siting all day, so I went for a 3.75-mile run. I followed it up with an hour-long, 10-mile bike ride around a lake in my neighborhood that I’ve literally never been to, in all the time I’ve lived here. It was a pleasant, somewhat challenging ride. I was exhausted and happy that night when I sat down to do some school work, and I slept incredibly well.
The next day (yesterday), the boyfriend and I went to the State Fair with a few of his friends, and we spent from Noon until 5PM walking around, dodging in and out of crowds, eating deliciously unhealthy foods (deep-fried cheese curds, anyone?) and checking out all of the different vendors. At one point, the boy and his friends tried a novelty beer that everyone has been talking about – Chocolate Chip Cookie Beer. The plastic cup came rimmed with mini chocolate chips, and for a brief moment, I was a bit jealous of their little taste adventure. I quickly snapped out of it, thought, knowing I had full control over my choice. If I really wanted it, I could have it, right then and there. I grabbed a cup of coffee, instead, and listened as they somewhat dissapointedly described the beer as “meh.”
Today, there’s a chicken wing cook off competition being held by one of my neighbors. My step mom is busily trying to prepare in the kitchen – she’s making gespacho, a jelly-like dessert, and a big pitcher of grapefruit sangria. As I was helping her rearrange the cans of LaCroix in the fridge to make room for the gespacho pot, she made the remark, “You know, I probably should just drink the LaCroix instead of sangria,” and then laughed it off. I smiled and neatly shoved the gespacho pot in next to the giant beer keg (this is our *second* fridge, you see – the regular one is upstairs, and the beer fridge with a built-in keg system is downstairs; we use it when we can to store extra food).
My step mom is a wine lover. She buys the organic box wines because, well, they’re organic, and more economical. The other night, after talking with her and my dad about my decision to go alcohol-free, I mentioned the fact that the book “This Naked Mind” really helped me seal the deal on indefinite sobriety. I brought it up from my room and let them know they could read it at their own leisure.
The truth is that, while it worries me a bit, my step-mom’s drinking is not my business. I live in her house, and as such, I live with someone who drinks on a daily basis, who is often quite vocal about knowing she drinks too much, yet continues to drink anyway. It’s the nature of the drug, to behave that way in its presence. I can absolutely relate to that type of self-talk, and knowing that I should stop, even as I’m actively pouring myself another drink. She often calls it “being bad” with a little smirk on her face. And I can see that, though my dad loves her very much, her drinking sometimes takes a toll on him – he become frustrated and irritated by her when she’s had a bit and is overly chatty, interrupting conversations and talking over others. He makes small comments here and there about the role that alcohol plays in her life. And it breaks my heart a bit to see this otherwise lovely couple trying to live with an elephant in the room that just keeps getting bigger.
On the other hand, I’m trying to find the line between being a sober inspiration for the people in my life, and being the overbearing zealot. It’s easy to get so excited about sobriety and it’s weird, magical mysteries, but it’s never going to work to shove it in people’s faces in an effort to get them to see what life could be like without booze involved. If anything, being an in-your-face-asshole about it is going to turn a lot of people off. And that’s not my goal at all.
I want to be an inspiration to my step-mom, though, because she’s a brilliant woman who is just trying to do the right thing. She often talks about having a horrible time trying to sleep – waking up multiple times during the night, tossing and turning. Even after being vegan for several years, she hasn’t seen a hoped-for shift in her weight or cholesterol numbers. She’s evaluated every avenue for change possible – except, perhaps, her drinking. I don’t know where she is in her drinking journey. It’s impossible for me to know. But every bit of information I can give her that will help challenge the notion that alcohol is a necessity of life will perhaps be a push for her to start evaluating the elephant in the room.
I brought “This Naked Life” upstairs as a “when you want, if you want” offer for her to read because trying to shove it on her isn’t the right way of trying to help. She has to actively desire change for herself, and if she doesn’t, it’s not my place to force it. All I can do is be a living model of happiness in sober life and show her the things that work(ed) for me. The rest is all her decision to make.
Anyway, day 58 here. I’ll be off to the chicken wing cook off in short order, and then down to spend some time with the boyfriend’s family this evening. Lovely September day to be alcohol free!