Tag Archives: Emotions

Lessons From Substance-Free September: Life Goes On

This is the second part of a ‘series’ where I write about what I’ve learned from Substance-Free September. The first part is here.

Another sad fact I’ve realized over the past month of being sober is that life continues on. There is no “finished” or “over” and there also seems to be no time to properly gain your bearings and figure out the best course of action. No time to take a break or reflect. Life is being stuck in an endless and problematic story where you never really get to take a step away from things and relax.

Maybe that’s just my life, but others probably feel this way too. It’s another trigger to my drinking: needing a break from life. Hell, that might be my main reason for drinking so much. It’s my way of having a few clear and foggy hours to not exist as fully as I usually do. It drowns life out to an acceptable level where I seem to be able to deal with it, until the next day that is. But that’s an easy problem to solve because you can always drink more!

Not a good idea, obviously. A friend of mine a few months ago pointed out that I feel too much, my highs are really high and my lows are supremely low. Apparently despite outward appearance I’m a highly emotional person and this friend being a very insightful person I tried to give him some credit. Sure, I didn’t see myself that way, but was he onto something?

To maybe prove this point, this friend moved away last month. People move, things change, but goddamn do I feel his absence in some way that others don’t seem too. Maybe they don’t verbalize  it (neither do I) outside of the occasional “I miss [person],” but stuck in my head I feel it differently. The fact that people always move, change, grow, decay, and that everything is temporary, everything is inevitably changing crushes my soul. I don’t like it at a visceral level. Something about it seems wrong even though it’s perfectly natural.

And this friend? He seems to be the embodiment of going with the flow and change, the total opposite of myself. I think I admire that about him. He’s the type of person who literally quit his job, embraced all the change through his own actions, and moved thousands of miles away with no guarantee that anything would actually turn out the best for him. No insecurity or hesitation about it, and the part I don’t understand, no fear of loss from leaving people behind. Leaving the memories behind. Leaving everything about your life behind for some unknown clean-slate where anything could happen, good or bad. It’s such a crazy and foreign thing to my insecure self that I just can’t comprehend how someone could go through with it.

It feels like I’m paralyzed by my emotions, hence the drinking to escape them. I used to be really depressive and have somehow managed to get better over the past six months. Still an episode of depression can be so intense that I want nothing more than to zap myself out for a while via alcohol. Strangely it’s not just the bad times I try to escape. Moments happen where something magical will happen; a good day where I see the beauty in everything and can savor every grateful second that passes. Inevitably, this feeling comes with the realization of loss. Why can’t everything remain beautiful? Why does anything ever change? Why can’t things stay in this moment forever? And obviously when that happens I can’t wait to have another drink to escape it.

So maybe I feel too much. Maybe it’s a curse, maybe it’s a gift. I recently read some story drafts I’d written and couldn’t help but see this is what I’m constantly trying to explain to my readers. I’m constantly trying to explain this bitter sense of loss, losing the entire point of life, and trying to understand the cycle of gaining and losing. Damn if I don’t have a heavy dose of loss, nostalgia, joy, and insecurity in everything I write. Everything seems to point to me feeling way too much about the smallest things in life, as if everything is a battle to find joy and survive, to appreciate those small moments when they decide to show up. Maybe it is a gift, maybe this form of suffering is a way to move forward? Maybe I’m just hopelessly bipolar or something.

See what I mean?

That was a hell of a rant. When you remove drinking as a solution there is no escape from life itself. No way to avoid the emotions. They fucking happen and it sucks. But even those are hopelessly fluid. Countless times I’ve been so happy and at peace that I want to cry, and this emotion always passes. It always fades into nothing. Countless times I’ll have a good day and try to force myself to remember the good times as clearly as possible, but I never find success…ever. You can’t remain joyful forever. The same is true for depression: the mood always changes given enough time even if you don’t realize it in the depths of it. Without fighting these emotions with alcohol I’ve learned to be clearly aware of them. Let them pass. It’s like being on a boat in the ocean; the waves pass by you, you’re up one moment and you’re down the next, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Ride the waves, let time pass, and learning to do this is nearly impossible, but you do make progress over time. No one wants to feel like shit, everyone wants to be happy, but it’s like trying to stop the earth from rotating. Find comfort in the temporary joy, and let the waves of depression wash over you. They’re equally temporary.

This has been my life the past month. Each day passes with its own joys and struggles and then…nothing. It happens again and again. A week passes. Two. Three. There is no break, this is no grand pause in drinking to reflect on it all. There is no award, trophy, or magical realization at the end to justify anything you work through. Just more…life I guess? More ups and downs. Endless emotions of ups and downs. In a way it feels like I’m slowly breaking down. I just want a break from life sometimes! Some way to not exist as fully as I seem to exist at all waking moments of the day. Is it just me? Is this how people are? Hell if I know.

There is no grand lesson in this blog post. Which kinda is the grand lesson in some strange way. Life goes on, it raises you up and lowers you like a boat on waves, and you’re nearly useless to do anything about it. Life seems to be about learning to float on the waves, dance on the highs and lows of life, where there is no respite from this dance of life. Up and down. Powerless at all times. Adrift in the ocean of life with no escape from the waves.

The next post: Lessons From Substance-Free September: The Endless Supply of Problems

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