When I made it to one year sober I made a Spotify playlist to celebrate (https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6dMfzYgoZP9ZInWBiXxFap), and the playlist opens with the Rent anthem “525,600 minutes” because, well, I love the song, and also because the year felt like 525,600 minutes.
Yesterday, October 15th, I hit 2.5 years sober and sadly there is no song called “1.3 million minutes”. So – heads up – there won’t be a new playlist. 🙂
The last 2.5 years didn’t feel like 1.3 million minutes. It has felt like 2.5 years – the typical contradiction of “too fast” and also “dragged on forever” that everyone says about anything longer than a month. I imagine I’ll feel exactly the same way when I hit three years.
But I’m marking 2.5 years here on Total Fatty because this third year of sobriety has been… interesting. I’m wondering if the second half will be more of the same. I suppose I have a role in how the second half of this sobriety year turns out… and I’ll tell you what I want: I want to rest.
It’s been a year of change: new job, house buying, house selling, moving, traveling and some intense work on my marriage. So today, as I celebrate this little sobriety milestone, I feel this deep urge to rest and nest. To routine-ize my life. To be normal and stop striving for a little while. It’s almost like the job and house and even the recent vacation in which I went to Rome for the first time (check!) were all part of my subconscious master plan to settle the fuck down once those things are DONE. And as of this writing, those things are done.
But… these last few days I’ve been responding to people’s posts more on secret sobriety facebook groups, ostensibly because I’ve felt the urge to share my “how” and “why” with people in early sobriety. I go through spells where sobriety is the last thing I feel like talking or writing about, and then I get this new font of energy and confidence to share “wisdom”. I bring this up because, well, I don’t think I know how to rest.
Whenever I participate more fully on the secret facebook groups I actually wind up spending half my life the next few days checking facebook for responses or likes. I think, if I’m honest with myself, I’ve been seeking distractions. And now I’m writing a blog post because, again, I can’t just be.
I’ve heard that year 1 of sobriety is physiological recovery, year 2 is emotional recovery and year 3 is spiritual recovery (if I got this wrong, please correct me in the comments). My year 3 has actually felt like “avoidance of spiritual recovery”. So far I’ve spent year 3 aggressively re-building my life. My marriage, my job, my home. I feel like year 1 was tearing down my house, year 2 was putting a pup tent on top of the foundation, and year 3 I actually got down to building something new.
But in the end – what is my goal? What am I actually aiming for? Is it really the trappings of a nice upper middle class child-free white woman’s privileged-as-hell life? Because that’s how it’s all starting to look and feel to me. Trappings. Symbols. Structural achievement. And I get this nagging feeling that I won’t ever let up if I don’t let up. And that sobriety trope re spiritual recovery keeps popping into my head and it’s annoying. So maybe I’ll try to face it head on.
I won’t go all crystals and essential oils on you, because that’s not what I’m leading up to. Or even yoga or meditation. Or even nourishing foods and positive people and blah blah blah. I’m talking about purpose. Meaning.
One of the AA phrases that got stuck in my head in early sobriety was “let go and let God.” I’m not religious, and I’m not in AA. However, despite my best efforts to cleanse my mind of this catchphrase I couldn’t. It wouldn’t let me. So I let it help me. I gave in and just said it to myself (a lot) to get through cravings or bad days or shitty work emails. And despite my irritation at the word “God”, it helped.
I’ve joined a choir here in Seattle, and of course we are preparing a big holiday concert. Mostly Christmas music. Our weekly choir practice brings me back to childhood and those few moments when I felt totally at peace with the world, being Angel Gabriel in my church’s Christmas pageant, staring at a glowing and tinseled Christmas tree, planning gifts for my parents and sisters, agonizing over whether or not I’d get a walkman from Santa.
Being in a choir also brings me back to when I was a better singer – the star musician and vocalist in all the choirs I was in. Every week I feel and re-feel sadness and regret when my voice cracks or croaks, or sounds reedy and wispy. Or when I don’t get the notes right.
But singing in a choir preparing a holiday concert mostly brings me back to a time when I believed in things: God, baby Jesus, Santa, Mom and Dad, good grades, singing and art. And I realllllly believed in those things. So much so that when Mom and Dad divorced when I was 13, all the other things were thrown into grave doubt, and then were pretty much lost in the passage of time. Of course, everyone doubts and loses (and possibly regains) their faith in things and people at some point in their childhood and young adulthood, I just happened to have my own specific precipitating event that accelerated the process.
Right now I would characterize myself as an empty vessel with a very nice job and house and husband. An empty vessel that’s damn lucky to be alive and sober. I’m grateful, but I’m also scared. Scared that I am not doing enough to improve the world. Scared that I’m too complacent. Scared that my nice house and job and husband might go away tomorrow. Scared that this is it – this pinnacle of easy living – and that hitting a pinnacle really means the start of the downward return to dust (mid life crisis anyone?)
So, will I rest in the second half of my third year of sobriety? I doubt it. But maybe I’ll find peace.