Ask Schmutzie: When Is It Most Difficult?

I asked you to ask me questions about my sobriety. This is my fifth response to your questions. Check out my first, second, third, and fourth sets of questions and answers.

the top of my head

When is it most difficult?
     — cenobyte

Tonight. Tonight it is most difficult, and other nights like tonight.

If you read through all of my posts about sobriety, you'll see that I've said it before, but I'll say it again. I changed a major portion of my life to quit drinking. I summarily and without explanation quit going to the pub I went to most nights for almost ten years and stopped hanging out with 95% of the people I saw most often. I went from seeing lots of people most of the time to seeing almost no one most of the time.

Quitting drinking was such a remarkable life change that I rarely notice how much of a homebody I've become. Being sober feels busy after spending the last ten years forgetting most of what I did. There are nights, though, ones like tonight, when the Palinode goes out with friends and I happen to be feeling particularly vulnerable for no particular reason. I feel smacked upside the back of my head with grief.

I have a ton of things to keep me busy — design work, reading, phoneography, etc. — but I feel like I don't know what to do with myself. I feel wide open, vulnerable, and so very aware of my singularity, my separateness, my aloneness in the universe. I feel that hard reality that no one can feel this life with me, not truly.

I think being drunk with groups of people that I was drunk with a lot made me feel bonded to a whole, however falsely, for those hours that I was there in that state. Some days it can be an exceedingly lonely experience to make the decision, yet again, to say no to it all, to choose to sit with this sense of isolation rather than burrow into a fuzzy sense of togetherness.

There are sober people I can connect with if I need to, but it doesn't fix the truth of being locked into a body in a universe that demands this hard decision of me every day. I am happy to make this decision not to drink as many times as I need to make it, but on nights like tonight I get to feeling a little pathetic, a little tired, a little threadbare.

I may be happy to make this decision, but I don't want to make it, and I wonder when it will stop feeling like I am continually waving goodbye to so much of what I find familiar and comforting.

So, when is it most difficult? Tonight it is most difficult. I feel stretched thin and limp. I am tired. I feel existentially isolated. I am lost.

And I am reminding myself that it gets better, because it does. Every morning proves to me that it gets better than the hard night before, even if it is sometimes only a little bit.


Me at Aiming Low: Overcommitment Schools Me In The Art Of Slack