Thursday, September 4, 2014

Holy Shyte, Five Years!

My friends on Facebook are amazing. It's just now past noon, and already over a hundred people have congratulated me on reaching five years' sobriety. Five years. Wow. That's a milestone for sure, especially when I think about what I was like before I quit drinking. I couldn't imagine not drinking. I thought I'd get boring or be bored. I was afraid I'd lose all my buddies. I couldn't conceive of what would give life its "perk" if it weren't having a buzz. Everything was tied to drinking: going to the race track, watching the Giants or Niners on television, preparing a meal (this was tied to "sampling" the wine while cooking and inevitably having to open a second bottle)... you name it, I'd find a reason booze had to be a part of the deal for me to have any fun.

When I checked into rehab at 11am five years ago, I'd had an evening drinking the night before--my last night. I didn't overindulge, at least not by my definition. Still, when the facility checked me in, I hadn't had a drink since midnight, but I still blew a .04. My norm, back then, was probably enough alcohol to poison the average person. It had taken years to build up that colossal tolerance. But, oddly enough, I was reluctant to call myself an alcoholic.

1,826 days later, I have to laugh at myself.

Well, I didn't get boring, and I haven't become bored. If anything, my life has become much richer, so much more layered. I definitely don't miss the hangovers. I know I'm better in the classroom because I'm always fully present. Instead of drinking at nights and wasting my time acting out or picking fights or "writing" something that, the next day, was virtually incomprehensible, I settle down evenings by listening to lectures at The Great Courses or watching documentaries or reading. No doubt that's boring to some, but it's not boring to me. I like using my brain. And, I've written an entire book that's actually readable.

Have I lost my buddies? Some of them, sure. But I let them go, not the other way around. I just have realized drama and negativity aren't fascinating qualities. They're actually a waste of energy. Likewise, I've dropped other friends I didn't think would be in the original group. Sober, I see that certain folks just aren't worth the drain they put on my psyche. Dishonest people are out. Racists and bigots are out. People who think it's amusing to criticize, make fun of, or insult other people are out. Life's too short.

I can't say I've felt their loss. Instead, I've felt more peace of mind. And for every person who's gone, several others have taken their place.

I've found a spiritual life.

I try to do at least one kindness per day, no matter how small.

I've switched on my creativity otherwise by painting or playing guitar, even though I'm not great at either. They both bring me pleasure anyway.

My relationship with my wife is stronger than it's ever been.

What can I say? My life is better, no longer crazy and out of control.  I can't even imagine why I let myself fall into that dark hole of addiction in the first place, but I slipped into it somehow. I'm just grateful I got sick of being there and grateful I had the support of my wife, her family, and enough friends and co-workers who were there for me when I was scared out of my wits. 

 It's been a great five years. Bring on the next five! But, as always, one day at a time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Something to Think About....

The above list describes the standard make-up of our political institutions in America, that is, our Senate and House of Representatives who are made up of people purporting to represent ALL of us: "we, the people."

Here is a FACT: the above describes exactly 6% of the US population. 

Black people, Asians, Latinos, other people of color, gay/bi/trans people, women, poor people, single people, uneducated people, young people, and the unemployed are not represented in any way approaching parity (or proportionate representation) in the U.S. government.  It never has. It's gotten a teeny bit better, but parity is a long, long way off.

Now, the United States of America is not a true democracy (it never was); it is a republic, but we still like to pretend the people have a voice and that our elected representatives vote as we, the people, would have them vote. But if you consider the above, you realize why they so often don't and instead just vote a party platform that has been articulated and paid for, if you will, by any number of corporate interests. 

Until our government starts to actually look like we do and not just like the 6%, we will continue to have a populace that feels (and is) largely disenfranchised. The two-party system is failing us. We need more electable, viable candidates than just the two dishes we are offered.

But we have to do our part. If we want change, we have to put forth the viable candidates. Otherwise, a lot of potato lovers or pasta lovers will be stuck with having to choose between salad or tunafish the rest of their days.