Today is my first day of sobriety so I’m drinking.
It’s not the first time I am writing this nor is it the first time this has happened. It always seems like making the right choice will be easier tomorrow but it’s not, it’s easiest now – the now before I was drunk.
Now when I have the ambition. Now when I have the intention to improve myself, because tomorrow, tomorrow doesn’t always come. Today is all that exists. Today is when I must make the change if I want tomorrow to be different.
Tomorrow will only ever be realized as today.
This is why I struggle to see improvement when adopting this ‘tomorrow’ mindset. When I drink today, tomorrow will just bring regret and shame that feeds further use. If I don’t drink today, I may carry with me the ambition, the good intention, until tomorrow, unsure of what it will hold but ready to seize the possibilities.
Tomorrow forgets yesterday if done right – or so I say.
So it’s about today. Today is the domain of the living. Tomorrow is a realm of potential that never quite enters reach and yesterday is an education I hope to have studied.
Tomorrow, today will be yesterday. Will I have learned? Will I live better?
Five days sober and I am hit with the greatest compulsion to drink or smoke yet. The last few days have featured occasional reflex thoughts to partake in my negative behaviour but all have been easily cast aside.
Today’s is markedly different. Off the heels of better getting to know a previous acquaintance I am shaking on my five-day stack and feel it threaten to tumble down.
Why is today so different? The urge so much harder to fight?
The afternoon was spent pleasantly, a familiar face in a new class, a delightfully spicy Thai meal that didn’t break the bank (at which not drinking was not an issue), fascinating conversation and overall general pleasantry. It even eased the stress felt last night as I looked upon the course syllabus to discover 30% of this grade would fall to group work, or what usually amounts to a group amount of work being done by one sucker – me.
So why then?
Because this girl with whom such a brilliant afternoon was shared is just that, so damned brilliant! Taking eight classes to my five (which already seemed a daunting load) while working more jobs than I could keep track of and, what’s more? She’s doing it all at 18. At this rate, she’ll have bum-rushed her degree and be done by 22, the age I finally got myself together enough to start mine – at a two class-a-term rate to boot.
Crushed under a grand feeling of inadequacy I am driven to the bottle, to the pipe, to both. Who cares? I am crap already, I may as well have a reason for it.
It’s amazing to me that this reality had escaped my attention before. I was familiar with the pitfall of getting too comfortable, of looking back on a successful week of sobriety and figuring “oh well I guess I could treat myself to a beer now, I’ve got what I needed to done and in what tremendous form! Surely a singular solitary celebratory beer wouldn’t be the end of me” only to wake up on Wednesday with a half-full $2 Pilsner on my bed-stand, the other half filled with regrets.
No this is a different, more visceral, more root beast. The kind of underlying truth to my relationship with alcohol and weed that reveals why I can never sensibly partake in such substances. The truth that I feel shitty about how much time I’ve wasted, how little I’ve done and that I’d rather not race at all if I’m starting a lap – 4 years – behind.
The start line makes for a sad finish line when one spends the whole race drunkenly wobbling across it, never bothering with the rest of the track. Surely it must be better to finish last than to be a spectator (an interference of a spectator at that) – to say you’ve done something and not just watched others compete while you wallow in your shame, un-trying.
What’s more is this girl is not getting on so spectacularly thanks to some performance-enhancing drug. There is no Adderall in the equation on which I can blame my comparative shortcomings – no cheat code in her system that renders an effort to compete futile.
There’s just my shortcomings – shortcomings which I and only I control.
In fact, she can even smoke weed and drink in a healthy capacity while retaining her excellence.
A wonder I must say.
What’s wonderful for her need not be a tragedy of mine.
I cannot speak for the validity of this statement although I strongly suspect she does not wish to see me fail, does not enjoy the idea of my submission to myself, does not run to beat me. I’m sure, as I’ve really just met her, she could give a shit less about what the fuck I’m doing and I likewise could benefit from giving a shit less about where she’s at.
The unbearable urge I felt earlier has now passed.
All that has changed is my relationship with myself – my understanding of my feelings.
This is how we win, we compete against ourselves.
To be so caught up in comparing other’s successes is foolish and unproductive and ultimately shortchanges us for who we are, what we’ve achieved and what’s important to us.
It’s an unhealthy practice.
As Mark Manson would say, it’s time to give a fuck less. I’ll go where I go and I’ll get where I get and right now, due to the decision not drink tonight and instead write, I am set to happily fall asleep with no new regrets, just a brilliant new person in my life I am happy to call ‘friend’.