Tom Petty was wrong – the waiting is the best part.
Today is my 5 year birthday and I am feeling exceptionally un-spiritual. The kids are watching a movie and I am in time out right now until I can chill the hell out. I am very tired right now because I simply couldn’t get to sleep last night. Throw in a little internet snafu and my kids sniping at each other as soon as I wake up and it’s a signal for the little addict in my brain to act as if no one can hear me unless I speak all loud and angry-like. More than anything, though, it’s done. The waiting is over. I have officially spent five whole years without drinking or drugging.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled with the marked anniversary. I’m terribly grateful for the journey and excited to see where sobriety takes me from here. It’s Christmas morning, though, and all the presents have already been opened, so there’s nothing left to do but throw away the wrapping paper and pack up the ornaments. All the excitement of the anticipation is gone and it’s a nasty comedown.
Early in sobriety, I worked through a workbook that helped me through the steps (I’ve used just about every means to help me get sober. Yes, the Big Book is my go-to reference and I sponsor from it, but I still use plenty of worksheets and questionnaires as supplements). One of the questions asked me to rank certain aspects of my addiction as to how appealing or how important they were. The list contained things like the substance itself, the feeling it gave me, the escape… I don’t remember what all. One thing on the list confused me though – the ritual. At first, I thought it was the stupidest question. Why would I miss pouring a drink or fixing a shot? I just wanted to get to oblivion. I didn’t care what it took to get me there.
When I actually stopped and thought about it, though, the ritual was huge for me. The high was nice, but the comedown came too quick. It was the anticipation that lured me in. I remember one time spending two hours setting up the perfect shot. Bobby used to get so annoyed with me scraping out baggies and squeezing cottons. This time, apparently it was too much for him (I should also note that it was one of those times we had vowed this was going to be our “last shot”) and he snatched it from me when I wasn’t looking. Of all the reasons I had to hate him, this was the one thing I had the hardest time forgiving him for. And that is one of the countless reasons I know without a shadow of a doubt that I’m an alcoholic.
The very first time I drank legally, I didn’t wait until it was officially my birthday. My then boyfriend and I both worked nights at the time. He had taken the night of my birthday off and we planned to do something then. He wanted to buy me my first legal drink. I was also off the night before, though, and one of our good friends was a bartender, so I went to Eddie’s after midnight where I was celebrated and welcomed into adulthood in high style. Jay was upset that I hadn’t waited for him to join me, but what could I do? That anticipation was too much!
In much the same way, I lay awake in bed ’til the wee hours last night reveling to myself in my five-years-ness. And this morning, I awakened to the anticipation hangover that sours any good thing. Just like Ralphie I got my Red Ryder BB Gun, but I’ve gone and shot my eye out. Anticipation is Expectation and Expectation is Resentment laying in wait and Resentments will kill me.
I have finally forgiven Bobby for taking my “last shot.” If he hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t have gone right back out to score so that I actually could have my own “last shot” and I wouldn’t have continued on to the place where enough was finally enough. My pissiness this morning reminds me that I’m not finished yet. I still have a long way to go. So I will sit here in time out and thank God for keeping me humble and ask him to direct me through the rest of my day.