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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

My Sobriety is (almost) Old Enough to (legally) Drink

According to my Oura ring, I got the best night of sleep I had in a long time. Oura reported that my resting pulse rate had lowered earlier and asked why that could be. I’d spent the day with Andrea and the dogs at the cottage - a lot of reading. To be fair, I also spent time yelling at Harry to not pee inside. That couldn’t have been good for my resting heart rate. I don’t know if he got inside and outside mixed up at the cottage but the morning had been rife with middle class white girl troubles. It began with Andrea felling a floor lamp that broke, Harry peeing in his crate overnight, me somehow pulling the can crusher out of the wall, and a few other trivial annoyances that make you question if you should just crawl back into bed.

We have an upcoming vacation in November, booked long ago minus our flights so we finally settled down to book those.

“Do you have a frequent flier number for American?” Andrea asked.

“Mmm…let me search my email.” I said.

I didn’t find a frequent flier number but I found a flight credit for almost $400 that was expiring on the very day we were booking the flight.

“Huh. Let’s see if this number works - I can’t recall if I used it or not.” I say.

As if to make up for the morning fiascos, the universe threw us a bone and the flight credit worked. This definitely turned Andrea’s mood around - that, a cold beer, and beating me at arcade games.

I booked work flights too - a series of one way tickets from Richmond, to Chicago, to Kansas City, MO, back to Richmond. I forgot I actually know people who reside in KC but someone reminded me on Facebook so I feel I’m a little less likely to complain about this trip since dinner with Mildred seems like it’s on the table. I’ve never actually met Mildred in real life - we met through my coaching training. While booking the upcoming flight, I murmured, “What’s the Kansas City airport code again? Oh right, MCI.”

To which Andrea replied, “Like the prison in Framingham, Mass!”

Touché. I mean, when she puts it that way, how could I forget?! But there is Mildred and two others I attended high school with in the area which makes it more appealing than prison or Kansas City without knowing people. I mean - I do know people but it’s work people and…

Anyway… recently, I had the opportunity to fly to Boston to conduct a training for a former colleague’s company. I really enjoyed creating the training and delivering it in person.

Andrea made the hybrid return to her office at the beginning of the month - which happened to coincide with yet another trip to Kansas City, MO for me. Fortunately, we found a dog day care for Harry in the nick of time. It reminds us of the Dog Scoop that Wrigley and Georgie attended back in MA, but more spacious. It’s cute to see pics of Harry and a buddy. This past week, he was twinning with a golden named Mac who appears to be about Harry’s age.

This week, I’ll have been at my job 3 years.

If you asked me, between the months of October through January, if I thought I’d make it to three years here, I would have said “no” or “I hope not.” But here I am and things are a lot less dark than they appeared between October to January - even with KC travel.

On my birthday back in September, I’d pulled the Tower card and in less than 2 weeks, poof. My CEO was gone and I was sitting with this pile of grief I didn’t know what to do with. It wasn’t just about the CEO - although that was a big part of it. It was about Bob too (sorry, Bob, but I write or I go fucking crazy so here I am - that October to January period? Crazy.). Last night, I had dreams that unspooled upon one another, one unfolding into another - not at all connected. In one dream, I was with Bob at a medical appointment and they kept making us go to different rooms to speak with different doctors - each one holding onto a piece of information. I was annoyed because it seemed cruel to have a patient walk so much and being in suspense. Then, suddenly, people from work were resigning and Bob was gone. Because I didn’t get to meet with someone for an exit interview, I went to their home where they were serving alcohol to several other employees who had resigned. In real life, this person in my dream is a stranger to me. They offered me a drink and I said, “Oh. I’m sober.” And then suddenly, I was shopping for stationery - which I have more than my fair share of and all the options were lacking, which was frustrating.

Lately, people I know show up in my dreams. Some of them long dead and others very much alive. Sometimes, I forget the dream but wake up remembering that someone I knew, or know, was in it.

In my real, waking life, I’m sober. Still sober. This Wednesday, my sobriety will be old enough to drink. Twenty-one. I’ve been waiting 21 years to crack that stupid fucking joke. So please…take a moment to groan or snort. Go ahead. I’ll wait. I mean - I guess I should say, if I make it to Wednesday, one day at a time and that shit. But I think I’ll make it. I mean, I made it through October through January - dark days, and other days outside of these that were darker still. I remember Bob telling me of his diagnosis last August. When I hung up the phone, I didn’t want to drink, I wanted to scream. I recall looking around my home office and considering it for a moment. I heard Andrea’s voice a floor below, on a work call, and thought about the aftermath of the scream - my throat raw for days afterwards and her running upstairs, asking, “Are you hurt?!”

“Yes.” I would have said, “My heart. It’s breaking right now.” My heart being squeezed in a vise grip of fear and sorrow.

In the end, I dismissed the idea of the scream and instead sent an email and signed out of work. I may have lied down a moment and hugged the cat. I can’t recall. The point is that this decision, the one not to scream, is a lot like the one sober people make to not drink. They “think the drink through”. At this point in my sobriety, I seldom think of drinking, but if I do, I think I the drink through and realize, like countless drunks before me, that one drink is too many and a thousand drinks will never be enough. Screaming, drinking - none of it would change Bob’s diagnosis. If it would, I’d consider both options.

Each year of sobriety requires what is referred to as “living life on life’s terms”.  This is easier to do when your friend doesn’t getting some shit diagnosis, when your CEO isn’t shown the door, etc. But look. Here I am, (almost) another year sober - as if to prove sure, it’s easier then but not impossible now. You can do hard things.

This week, Andrea and I saw David Sedaris in person in Richmond. We’ve seen him before, years ago in Boston. The day after I saw him, I saw a post that said, “I find your posts (referring to social media) so relatable!”

And the response was, “Congratulations. You need therapy too.”

Which maybe explains some of Sedaris’s success. Sedaris is also sober. I know my sober celebs.

I don’t talk about my sobriety all that much but I like to think about it around the time of my soberversary. I post about it publicly then, not because I feel you should congratulate me for shit normal people do every goddamn day but because maybe you need sobriety too. I don’t have the secret - but I can tell you what’s worked for me and my bruised, grateful heart.

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