Struggle and the Feels
I just can’t today. Normally, I try to write something that will inspire you or make you laugh out loud. Not today. Sometimes I write about local heroes in our community or our stellar schools. Nope and nope. Today is not one of those days.
Today, my friends, I must confess that I am struggling. As I write this column, on a cold Sunday afternoon in mid-March, I have one thing and one thing only on my mind: alcohol. Today is the 71st day of sobriety for yours truly, and at this exact moment in time, I am jonesing pretty hard for a drink.
The best way I can think of to describe how I feel right now is that it’s like having an itch that you just can’t scratch. Imagine that itch is located somewhere deep inside your brain, and you simply cannot ignore it. There is only one way to make it go away, yet you dare not do it because you know it will feel so good once you start that you will never, ever be able to stop.
Luckily, I don’t feel the itch most days. Sure, there was that one time when I was watching an episode of “Family Guy” and Brian Griffin (an animated dog) was enjoying his go-to drink: a martini. Oh, how I wanted a sip or three of that canine’s cartoon cocktail. And the other day when I had just used some hand sanitizer that smelled a bit like vodka and suddenly I really wanted a shot or three of vodka. Then there was yesterday when a friend was recalling how his Yeti tumbler kept his gin and tonic ice-cold last summer while he sat beside the swimming pool as he basked in the hot sun, and I thought, as I watched snowflakes falling outside, that sipping an ice-cold gin and tonic while lounging beside a pool on a hot summer day sounded an awful lot like heaven to me.
Today is one of those days when I feel the itch and really resent the hell out of being an alcoholic. I’m upset that I haven’t been able to have a beer with my buddies in over two months. I don’t feel like hanging out in my shop/man cave, the space that I decorated to resemble a rustic tavern that I could enjoy with my friends, because it now reminds me of a sad old bar that has gone out of business.
I’ve been restless all day and I know that some fresh air would do me good, but it’s too cold and windy to do anything outside. I could run on the treadmill, but the calf muscle I injured two weeks ago still isn’t healing properly and I don’t want to make it any worse.
I’ve wasted most of the day scrolling through my Facebook feed out of sheer boredom. I don’t feel like reading a book, and there’s nothing good on TV. It was all I could do to force myself to write this column. Right now I feel like I’m losing my mind just sitting in this house, staring at these walls, stone-cold sober. I feel that itch. And I feel like scratching that itch.
Of course I know better than to give in to temptation. But just because I can think rationally doesn’t mean that I can just put the urge to drink out of my mind whenever I want. Some days I can, but this is not one of those days. Today, the struggle feels very, very real.
But tomorrow is a new day. I’m going to sit around and continue feeling sorry for myself today, but I’m determined to feel good about the direction my life is going tomorrow. I’ll go to work, teach some great kids, visit with some amazing and supportive co-workers, and then I’ll go home to a family that loves me for who I am and who I’m trying to become.
Tomorrow I’ll remind myself that in the ten weeks since I quit drinking, started eating right, and began exercising regularly, I have lost over 20 pounds. And in addition to feeling as healthy as I have in decades, I’ll also recall that this 45 year-old man has been told, by no less than three people recently, that he looks like a teenager. Tomorrow will be a good day, my friends. I’m sure of it.
But not today.
Today is not that day.