158 Days

Today I am five months, one week, and one day sober. At the beginning of each month of sobriety I set new intentions for myself and try my best to stick to them. One of them for my sixth month of sobriety is to meditate every day. I had already been meditating, but a little scattershot and only when I felt relaxed enough to meditate, which kind of doesn’t make sense I realized.

On Wednesday nights I attend a meditation and dharma class at the Shambhala Center in Cleveland Park — one specifically for people in recovery. We meditate at the beginning for 20 minutes. Have you ever meditated for 20 minutes before? It was nearly impossible at first. My mind races a hundred miles per hour, especially since I quit abusing alcohol and pills.

In dharma class we talk a lot about letting go, a key tenet of Buddhism. My problem is alcohol and painkillers and sleeping pills used to be how I let go — of poor decisions, awful memories, people I’ve let down and hurt. So now I’m like a child learning how to do it for the first time, all on my own. Sometimes it feels impossible. The weight of who I was when I was abusing — how much I hate that person — keeps dragging me backwards and if I let it drag me too far, it’ll undo the last 158 days.

I would say most of the time I feel comfortable in my sobriety but it’s most at risk when I feel sad. And I’ve been overwhelmed with sadness a lot the past week or so. Sometimes I have to resist the urge to call up an old or new friend and just say “Tell me I’m not irredeemable. Tell me there’s an inherent goodness in me, like they tell us at the Shambhala Center. Tell me there’s a life beyond the detached reality I’d grown so accustomed to the last 17 years.”

I want to stay sober. This is me telling myself I want to stay sober. I want to celebrate six full months of sobriety in a few weeks. That feels like a big accomplishment. So this is me saying to myself Just make it the next 23 days without alcohol or painkillers. When my thoughts are lucid, it really does feel as easy as that. When I’m sad or lonely it feels impossible.

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