It is no joke. Not drinking. There's less relief now, at over three years, than there was before at three days or weeks or even months. The relief on night-afters is higher. Social engagements are less tricky, and most of my friends respect non-drinking, mostly because they know just how much social events revolve around drink.
And there's none of those pesky 3am panic attacks. At least, not related to drinking. Except I do maintain the police dream, whereby I'm being chased. But it has morphed a bit. Sometimes (often), I am being surrounded by large bears, and they are everywhere, and they will get me, I'm sure, but they don't, since I always wake up first, screaming! Fuck me, I don't know why I have it, but I do.
Anyway, crowding out bear dreams is the fact that my life is objectively good!
I just want a strong release at times! And I love frothy IPA. And my wife, who gave birth 3 months ago, finally decided she's going to have a drink since she was sober for 9 months, and bought this delicious large brown bottle of some esoteric IPA. And IPA is by far my favorite beer. Strong, and bitter, and just fucking righteous in a way that nothing else is. And exercise is not quite the same, or, well, it takes over two hours to get that incredible focus and elan which a quick drink would give.
So anyway, I can't hold my shit, is the basic thing. I cannot just moderate my drinking. I cannot drink. I did not drink. I will not drink. I hear you, those of you who comment, telling me that they've been sober for SEVEN years only to think it is okay to drink, and waking up TEN years later, the need to get sober again alive, again present, again visceral and again, life wasted.
I hate the wasted life aspect of drinking.
Fuck me, I hate that wasted life aspect. My layers of regret and denial and just general shame are sufficiently complex, thick, and idiosyncratically alive, that I a think shame may be just about the strongest of emotions.
The point is not to relive bad times. I'm not trying to do that. The point is to find meaning. Being sober and looking for meaning is a lot harder than being a little bit tipsy--the same kind of tipsy that large brown bottle of beer would provide in oh, about twenty minutes of indulgence. Meaning rich and frothy and honest, I do believe, and inspiring. And it hurts to not have that ease of meaning because I'm simply not responsible enough to do so.
And at times it is just not enough to know that I'm fighting the good fight. Instead I just feel bad for a bit. Actually, to be honest for a moment. I feel bad a lot.