I’ve grown a fair bit since then - I’ve come to terms with being insecure, and have at least stopped feeling insecure about being insecure.
Now, for me, the significant struggle comes from the shadows of celebrations. Those moments that seem to push the buttons of sadness, when the everyday silence is suddenly amplified by all the surrounding noise. Like, when I’m alone in a bathroom stall or taking off my makeup, making coffee the next morning or walking to work. Those are the moments that make it apparent to me how much things have changed and how often my expectations don’t match with reality. That’s when I realize that after all of the hours of hard work and connecting with people and pushing myself to do good, I still don’t feel valid. And that’s when sobriety gets hard. When I feel the need to drink, it weighs on my hands and on my lips and down my throat. I hear the call to the bottle, the urge to slip into a blurrier reality where things are a bit easier, and provide a bit of relief.
In the past two years, I have learned that when my body feels this way I need to slow down, pull myself above it and dissect myself with a cold, impersonal interest. I prod at my feelings and urges until I know where they’re coming from, how they all fit together. Using that information, I can then care for myself in a healthier and more meaningful way. If this sounds like bragging, it’s unintended. It’s been a frustrating climb, with plenty of slip-ups and setbacks, but this is where I’m at now. I can’t lie, it’s sometimes incredibly embarrassing. It’s hard for me to acknowledge that as an adult I am still working on calming and soothing myself, that I am pushing thirty and sometimes react like I am three, that I’m not comfortable drinking again until I no longer feel the compulsion to do so, and to know that that may never happen. It’s a total, shameful bummer.
However, there is good news. Art is the good news! It’s no surprise that in tandem with getting sober I’ve gotten more creative. I take comfort in my ability to create. Find solace in the act of sitting down and using my hands to make something. What I make doesn’t actually matter. It’s the headspace I enter while creating. The immersion, the flow of working on a problem outside of myself, having the ability to control something completely. It’s the process, not the product.
In the past six months, I’ve retreated into my creative practice. I have taught myself to sit down with my materials when I’ve felt emotionally hungover. Paints, pencil crayons, an X-Acto knife and some old mags, a pen and my journal. Being quiet and hunched over a desk may not be everyone’s idea of a banging party, but it allows me to remember the good times and live through the rough ones.