On being one year sober

I had counted down the days. Typical, really. A small child at Christmas. The moment midnight struck I even called it Christmas: a tiny one. I celebrated alone, the rest of the house asleep, with a cup of chamomile tea.

I found I could identify with a house at rest. The quiet noises: how wood expands, wind whistles through brick, and pipes talk in crackles and pops. Something about being lived in and how finally my body feels lived in too. It’s taken twenty eight years to feel like mine. Unblemished for once, or, at least, the only marks left on it are the ones I make myself.

This said, the moment of midnight peace was just that, a moment. A dalliance with calm as the mind tongued its way around the word sober and yet again imagined ants. Thousands of them beneath my skin. In the bed-sheets. In my clothes. Everywhere but where you’d expect them to be.

The internet calls it formication. Says its common in recovering addicts. Common with withdrawal. Stress and anxiety only make it worse. As does a brain intent on force feeding you the lie that everything you’ve ever felt is a lie. That nothing is real. Even these hands and feet are a figment of your bizarre and inane imagination.

And this is why one year did not feel as I expected it too. One year was not what I imagined. I soon realised I had put July 30th 2022 on a pedestal and then turned it into a shrine. A shrine to which I asked all of my questions and placed all of my problems. Then awoke disappointed that these problems had not been solved and very few of the questions had been answered.

I know healing isn’t linear but this is different. Sobriety is pretty linear. From one day to three hundred and sixty five, it has become easier not to crave a drink. The conversations I have within myself are quicker to solve or ignore. I no longer feel embarrassed or feel the need to explain why I’m not drinking. I can be surrounded by alcohol and not panic. I can leave the house without a hangover. I am never hungover.

Nor am I drinking to sleep at all hours of the day. Two cans in by 10 am. It is hard not to lose sight of how huge this achievement is, when the person I was feels so far away from who I am now. Yet, in the same breath, I still know and could recognise every fibre of that body I used to be.

I guess what I am saying is, sobriety is strange. Linear but odd.

My body is the house with the nighttime noises. I am the ants and the chamomile tea. I am a jubilant midnight and a disappointing morning. I am all of these things except I am constantly moving forward. My sobriety has not been a dance, it has been a march; with one soldier, shoulders back, blowing the bugle, a rallying war cry, and another soldier or perhaps just someone in uniform, without the proper training, green in the face, forgetting their left from right at the back.

I still have questions. I still have problems to solve, solutions to find. I think it is time to dismantle the shrine and focus simply on getting to know this body which now calls itself home, three hundred sixty-five days in.


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