Friday, February 20, 2009


Day 46

I'm awake.

Not buzzy awake – Monster drinks and nicotine, porn and adrenaline. Handfuls of meds and empty bottles of cough syrup. Midnight hammock with the porch light off. Euphoric cognitive dissonance: “I will write the most beautiful poem” when I can't even string together words.

I mean sure, I had my triple-venti-nonfat-no-whip-mocha. My friend said that Starbucks is too strong for her – she drank it yesterday and it made her sick. Well, duh silly. It's like heroin: you can't shoot up right out of the gate. We have to build to that.

But I'm awake and alert and picking up the pieces in my den, one book or cable or CD at a time. These sediment layers are an archaeological record of the last several years of my life, and my spectacular failure to follow through on all the projects I started. I tried to explain to my nine-year-old: I'm not just untangling cables, I'm having to look at all the things that I wanted to do, but never finished. Ashley responded, “Why don't you just do them now?”

And that's what each day is like right now. I'm feeling the warming rays of the sun after days and months of rain.

Part of it's familiar. When I make that excruciating call, “Mom, I'm using again” and the cycle breaks – and I feel the freedom from the tyranny of my addict. I don't have to stockpile internet porn or hide chemicals under the bathroom sink during every free moment. That much I've been thankful for, many times. Until it starts again.

Part of it is unfamiliar. And terrifyingly real. Because this time in sobriety, I'm not curled up under the covers. I added to the endless list of recovery slogans my own little mantra: “Get out of bed, stupid.” Because once I'm up, I can think about my goals and spend time with the people I love. I can even dig through my shit when I'm feeling brave, exposing it to the healing light of my program friends, my therapists, my sponsor, you.

It's not that I haven't wanted to be awake before now, but that I simply couldn't. I know that “change in sleeping patterns” is on that check list for clinical depression. How many times have I sat and answered those questions: Change in appetite? Yes. Loss of interest in daily activities? Yes. Feelings of hopelessness? Yes. Thoughts of suicide? Yes.

Yes, yes, yes...

If you're on meds, don't get me wrong. They've saved my life, more than once. And I'm still on them now. But last summer (three relapses ago) I asked my shrink for less, not more. I was tired of being numb all the time. Because life isn't just about not feeling awful all the time, but about feeling warmth and joy and excitement, and maybe even crying when I'm watching Wall-e with my kids.

The recovery lesson for me is this: I didn't wake up because I found the right meds. I didn't wake up because I exercised or juiced carrots and apples and parsley. It's the step work. Answering questions about the shadowy parts of my landscape, and sharing with other people. Coming out of isolation and answering my phone.

It isn't all ecstacy. (The feeling not the drug.) I spent so many years trying desperately every day to top the previous day. I'm and addict; that's how we roll. I'm still learning and struggling with the concept that every day isn't Christmas morning. (This last December 25th, Ashley burst through the door and asked, “Do you know how hard it was to wait 'til 7:09 to wake you up?” We asked what time she had woken up. Answer: “7:06.”) But this moment, I can look out my window, and see the silhouettes of the trees across the street against the blue and gray of the sunset, and I can experience it. In the moment, with a deep breath of oxygen. And my neck hurts a little, and James keeps asking me Nintendo questions, but it's all OK, because I'm here.

And tomorrow, I'll “get out of bed, stupid” and I'll call my sponsor and read my Big Book. These banal things that stave off the nightmare for one more day, and allow me to take in all the beauty and grace that have been poured into my life, before I even knew to ask for them, before I ever deserved them.

And I won't be dreaming, but awake.


  1. Awake is good. I'd amend your morning mantra by dropping the "stupid." Otherwise, keep putting one foot in front of the other. Life among the living is grand.

  2. I agree with vicariousrising ... drop the stupid. After all, it's a promise of rigorous honesty and if you're going to be rigorously honest you'd have to say, "Get out of bed, courageous."

    It takes guts to get up and live a sober day.

  3. Point well taken. All these little things we say to ourselves really matter. Rather than beat up the guy who's "checking out" by sleeping, I can encourage the guy who's trying to participate in life, by getting up.

  4. Good post & good comments. Keep on.

  5. Beautiful post, Eli. Thanks for stopping by my blog. It's wonderful to (virtually) meet you.

  6. The words we use about ourselves most certainly go back into our ears and into our brains. With our mouth we can bless or curse even ourselves. Old habits die hard though. Keep on keeping on my brother.

  7. Great post. I'm happy for you. I agree about "stupid."

  8. I totally appreciate your openness on your blog. Just as I'm sure reading about the partners helps you, it helps me to have greater understanding of my husband's addictions when I get to read blogs like yours.

    Thanks for popping over to my blog. Welcome to the world of blogging. It has helped me tremendously.

    Ditto for me on dropping the "stupid". Fill it with a word that calls to what you see as the greatest in yourself.

    "Get out of bed, Child of God"

  9. Hey dude..time for an update;)