Sunday, September 7, 2014

Clean and Sober

Twenty years ago today, I entered alcohol rehab. Save for one early relapse, I have been clean and sober ever since.

The sober is the easy part. Detox, and stay that way. The clean is more difficult. Addressing the issues that make us want to escape. That is a lifetime's work. And it never gets easier.

There is a trade-off. Hard work. Painful self-analysis. Sacrifice. In my case, abandoning a whole lifestyle, in order to reduce stress. And daily panic attacks, as I am assailed by the fears and the demons I had sought to escape with the seductive anaesthetic of alcohol.

In return, I got my brain back. I've written a book. Got a CD on the way. And I've discovered there is much to live for. So much beauty. So many beautiful people. Not least myself.

It is not an easy road. Which is why so many pause. Take a side road. Or turn back. Never judge them. I don't. No-one can know how difficult this path is for someone else. We are none of us alike. The flip side of the trade-off is that, for some, it is too much.

We are terribly complex and fragile entities. It never ceases to amaze me that I am able to walk and talk at the same time. I truly believe that God is a comedian. And sometimes the punch-lines don't work.

When they don't, the allure of escape overwhelms the serenity of tortured sobriety. I am lucky. I am blessed with resources and friends who make every day worth living to the full.

But I have my moments of doubt. That is why we talk about a day at a time. It is not a surrender to weakness. It is a rallying cry of supreme hope and courage. For those for whom the cry rallies no more, I have only the most fervent hope that they have found a final serenity elsewhere.

And now? I'm going to take some Jennifer Lawrence-style selfies for you lot to hack ...