a month and three days

Fewer excuses. Less procrastination. Better judgement. That’s what I’ve been experiencing over the last month and three days not drinking alcohol. Granted, I drank half a gallon of vodka and up to half a box of wine a week. Cutting that in half likely would have helped. But, it was time to stop. I was tired.

Physically tired.

Emotionally tired.

Spiritually whipped.

I was tired of me, and I was tired of those around me.

Everyone.

Now, I’m only tired of a select few, and I’m learning to tolerate them.

There hasn’t been earth-shattering progress. It’s been days of simple success. More patient with the world. Less hung up on stupid shit—dirty dishes, vacuuming, harping on the kids about chores. Eventually, it all gets done. This appears to be the opposite of what I opened (the procrastination bit), but it’s not. The vacuuming, the dishes, all the work—it gets done. I have realized that it doesn’t need to get done on my schedule. There are other people in the house, living their lives, doing their things. Bellyaching doesn’t make anything get done sooner.  

I’m more active. Lots of walking. My wife and I tally about four to six miles a day. On weekends, we try to hike local trails. Also, I’m doing more fix-its. I put the mantle on the fireplace. It had been in the garage for five years. I fixed our side door. I’m replacing lightbulbs, batteries, cleaning appliances and tools. My goal is to organize the garage, make it into more usable space. Additionally, I’ve been working on remodeling the apartment above our garage. Well, not the remodeling as much as the tear-down. But you have to start somewhere, right? There’s a lot to be said about stopping. Tearing out the old. Bringing in the new. Eventually, that apartment will be a family area—mostly for the kids. An area where they can gather with friends, feel safe, and have fun.

I’m learning to sleep again. For years, I battled rest. Once I was buzzing with drinks at night, I didn’t want to sleep. I felt inspired. I felt creative. I often tried to stay up late and write. While some of that effort yielded decent work, most of it came from a dark place. Most of it was shitty, borderline pathetic, which is typical even of sober writing. However, I began crediting any positive results to pushing my body and mind to their limits. Booze was my muse. I was writing by way of destruction.

One can only go down to the dark of the cellar so many times before it starts looking like a place he ought to stay. I was conditioning myself to believe that I needed to go dark to write well. Of course, I had always known that to be untrue, but it wasn’t until I sprung myself from the drinking trap that I was able to look back and see that the late nights of drinking, the lack of sleep, have only kept me from reaching my potential as a writer.

Now, I’m usually in bed by ten. Gone away into dream within minutes.

Honesty.  Drinking clouded my reasoning. My lack of reasoning threw my honesty off balance. I made promises I couldn’t keep. I pounded my chest. Made myself into a person I was not. I was dishonest with myself. This led to dishonesty with others. If you’re not honest, you make bad decisions. I made lifetimes of bad decisions while navigating my drinking life. I can say this now because I am looking at myself through a more critical lens. Not in a harsh way, but in a caring way. Probably in the way my wife looks at me. She wants me to be happy, but to always be better.

I’m starting to see that now. Little my little.  Day by day.

~ k.j.


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