Hello! So it turns out that if you don’t blog for a couple of weeks, people contact you and express concern that everything is still alright, which is code for ‘have you started drinking again’. Which is very nice of them. I mean that quite genuinely: everybody in my real life has either accepted that I no longer drink or they never cared much in the first place, whereas the sober community, I think, understands that it continues to be something one has to work at, year after year.
So, first things first: no, I’m not drinking again. I’m just channelling a lot of time and effort into changing career direction, which is rather like turning around a juggernaut in terms of energy expenditure versus discernible effect. And there are only so many hours in the day, after all. I’ve let a lot of other things drop recently as well; my long evenings of cooking to music; indulgent baths; any form of exercise.
All of which brings me to the second thing. So, I’m very busy in a happy, engaged, interested sort of way. And I can’t imagine how on earth I ever had time to drink, and I can’t imagine having time to do so again – there are so many more interesting things to do with one’s time, it turns out.
But! There is this little voice of doubt at the back of my mind, asking me whether or not it’s ‘safe’ to dial down the sober work.
One of the things that I dislike about a certain subset of AA adherents is this: it feels like there is an attitude that there is only one way, that sobriety is something to be worked at forever, and that if we let down our guard for a moment, a bottle of alcohol will leap out of a dark alley, mug us and leave us for dead. Now, I’m not saying that’s any of you lovely folks, but it’s something I’ve seen in comment threads time after time, so it’s definitely out there as an attitude.
And of course, the blogosphere has a selection bias. We only hear from the people who do continue to do the work, week after week, whether that’s AA work or other work (Belle, of Tired of Thinking about Drinking, estimates that she does about 4 hours a day of sober work, for example. It’s not step work, it’s emailing and blogging and sober podcasts and a million other things).
But what of the people who just get sober and then move on? Do they, in fact, relapse because they’re no longer plugged in? Or do they step into a new life, and we just never hear from them again because they’re no longer thinking about sobriety?
I have no idea. But it’s untestable: either I step away and see if I relapse, which doesn’t seem like a great option, or I don’t, and I commit time that could be spent doing other things. If I knew that committing that time was useful, of course I wouldn’t resent it – it’s less time than I spent drinking, as I’m sure some of you are already itching to point out. But I don’t drink now, and my days and nights are very full, and it is time taken away from other things.
A lot of people talk about ‘trying moderation’ one last time. I never did, because so many of them came back and said ‘Well, that didn’t work’ and absolutely nobody came back and said ‘Hey, you know what, I’m magically cured!’. So although I do have thoughts about not being really sure I’m an alcoholic, I don’t want to test it, because the possible gain – I get to drink some fermented grape juice and not get drunk from it – is so much less than the possible loss of everything I’ve built up.
That’s fine. I’m clear about that. I just don’t have to drink, and like magic, I remain sober. But the doubt creeps back in. Is being sober enough? Or am I fooling myself and just ‘staying dry’ if I stop blogging and connecting on this level? I do hate people telling me that there is only one right way to do something, and I also hate fear mongering, but then again. Some of you have been sober a shitload of time longer than I have, so if you want to talk, I’m listening.