Today, February 11th, 2018, is my four year sober birthday. To celebrate, like I’ve done in the past, I’m heading out into the McDonald – Dunn Forest for a long run, one hour for every month in the last year that I’ve been able to maintain continuous sobriety. These twelve hour adventures have been a few of my favorite runs (including races) that I have experienced since becoming sober. They are a time to appreciate and honor the fact that sobriety is a gift as well as a chance to remember what I’m made of.
With another year of sobriety comes another year of learning. Last year I found myself reflecting upon the people that inspire me the most ( 3 Years Sober ) as well as what the journey had been like so far. The same goes for this year as the reflective side is still as prevalent as it has been in the past, perhaps in a different vein. Part of this, I believe, is because of the composition of my memoir, Appetite for Addiction. For most of this past year, while writing and editing, I was finding myself entrenched in the narratives and stories of my past. Basically, I felt like I was reliving, over and over, the worst and most devastating parts of my story, which is a default setting of mine. My question to authors who have written addiction memoirs is: is this common? To be steeped in these stories is my own doing. Luckily, with the help of my accountability team, I am slowly shifting the narrative from living in the past to coming into the present and appreciating what is unveiled at my door step today. Not yesterday, nor tomorrow, but today. I also believe that by releasing Appetite for Addiction I will be able to keep letting go and continue moving from my past in many ways….the process of writing has proven to be very cathartic.
It’s always interesting to compare what I’m working on now to what I was working on a year ago. Last year at this time I was on a high. Having recovered from an injury, I was attacking training full steam, writing like a banshee, unaware of the consequences that I’d face by going 110%. This year, however, is very different. Immersed in ambiguity about what is going to happen with the ventures that I am pursuing, I find myself reverting to a past and comfortable behavior of dwelling on results. Results for training, results for a long awaited move, results for writing, and results for my business. In essence I’ve been future-tripping about what may, or may not, happen. For instance, a few days ago I texted Matt to say good luck and to go get a medal in PyeongChang. The minute I sent the text I immediately knew what his response would be: “We’ll give it our best!” It’s inspiring to have people in my life that are truly invested in the process of improvement, much like Matt is. Cues such as this help snap me back into the present and be involved and engaged in today.
Largely, my focus on results goes hand in hand with unrealistic expectations that I have the penchant for setting up for myself. However, in sobriety, this tends to look different. Something that I keyed in on this morning, while sharing with some other folks in recovery, is that when I stopped drinking I never really had ANY expectations of what might happen if I got sober. I suppose I imagined that my body would feel better, but I never thought that I’d have the courage to resign from the corporate lifestyle I was living to pursue writing, training, and owning a successful health and wellness company, full time.
The other prevalent item of personal work that I’m engaged in is set around managing my depression. Last year at this time I was pretty secure in the fact that I was in a good place with it as I hadn’t had too many episodes over the preceding year. This year looks very different, as I’ve mentioned and recalled with frequency lately. The good news is that, more than ever, I embrace the fact that depression is a thread in my life rather than dismiss it. Plus, by uncovering certain hormonal deficiencies, my hope is that my depression will become more manageable with time.
It isn’t so much about not drinking anymore, it’s about everything else. The compulsion to drink isn’t there like it used to be. I can’t claim to say that this will always be that way, but today I feel pretty secure in knowing that, even in the hardest moments, the chances that I’ll drink are very slim. That’s pretty cool.
Apart from drinking, I always forget that the 11th of February is also the anniversary of quitting chewing tobacco, three years ago. Being my obsessive self I had to make both anniversary dates on the same day. It’s just easier to remember that way.
With that, I’m going to grab my headlamp, an iPod full of Gareth and Armin sets, and my running shoes to begin the most important celebration of the year. The one that reminds me that I’m still alive, kicking, fighting, surviving, and moving forward.