Monday, April 30, 2012
Expectations of Sobriety
I frequently warn her against comparing her insides to others' outsides. She thinks she is the only sober person who has difficulty. She goes to a meeting where people tend to be financially very stable and affluent, well-educated, mostly happily married, and don't seem to be dealing with the wreckage she is. I tell her that first of all, we don't know if that is really the truth about these folks - and it isn't our business to figure out if it is. Secondly, it is not a good idea to compare. Third, we all start on our recovery journey in a different place. She is making her kind of progress, it just doesn't look like other people's progress.
I remember a time when someone told me that if I was an example of five years of sobriety, he would rather be drunk. Well, he died drunk. I didn't wish it on him though. I have told people that maybe sometimes I am a good bad example. There is a use for those too, you know.
Later I had a friend who would say "Sobriety for sobriety's sake sucks." I would argue heartily with him on this point. He thinks it is ironic because he thinks I am one of the finest examples of making the most of your sobriety. Well, I didn't do that overnight. And if I thought I had to have great accomplishments, money, happy relationships, and great healing all the way around to have my sobriety mean something, I couldn't have thought I was successfully sober in my first ten years. Thank God I hung in there and worked a program and stayed sober.
I have often said that if I could have made a list of what I wanted from my sobriety when I was newly sober, I would have gravely short-changed myself. But some of the things I cherish the most are completely intangible. Being with my father as he was dying. Being present at the birth of two of my grandchildren. Being a trustworthy grandmother. Going back to church, painting icons, graduating from Biblical School.... I could go on, but you get the drift.
Some of the accomplishments others value a lot are: going back to college when I was 43, and having a master's degree by the time I was 50. Getting a "good job" and keeping it for a long dang time. Buying a house. Buying new cars. Etc.
But I still have the same brain. By the grace of God most days today you would never know that I used to respond hysterically to nearly everything. But I do still suffer from depression. I take meticulous care of myself to try to keep that serpent at bay. If I vary much from my life style I seem to open the door for it. Changing jobs earlier this year seems to have done that.
The thing I would like to say is: I am going through a depression. I know that I will get to the other side. I have many tools in my toolbox. I have faith that I am where I am supposed to be. And I have remained sober.
That, to me, is a hopeful message.
And I am not sure I can continue to blog through this - I can't imagine why anyone would continue to read when I am a broken record every day. I will pray about this.