Day 8: The Empty Toolbox

Facing your fear is a bitch.

Even in sobriety. Especially in sobriety.

As humans, we all acquire a set of survival skills. Maybe it was our parents who passed them along, maybe we learned them by trial and error. But, when the going gets tough, we revert to them. We establish patterns that become our defaults. Comfortable and reliable systems to fall back on.

I’m learning that some of these systems, while comfortable and reliable aren’t so safe.

My default: the bar.

When shit hit the fan, all I needed was to pony up to that long, lacquered landscape. Suddenly, I was numb, surrounded by familiar faces with predictable commentary. After a few more shots, I could say anything to anyone, or, be completely silent without need of justification. Alcohol granted me the gifts of a social butterfly with a sharp tongue, or the stoic nonchalance of the most introverted misanthrope. I thought I could be whoever I wanted, without judgement. And, perhaps that was the appeal. The escape. The power. The choice.

But, when all was said and done, alcohol left me with very few choices. Sober up or die a bar fly.

In these early days of sobriety, I’ve had to deal with the discomfort of being without the so-called toolbox alcohol provided me. It’s hard to know that I still have all these choices, only this time, it’s me making them, not a double vodka soda with lime. It’s suddenly hard to be social, and even harder to be alone.

To be fearless is a tall order. But, if I’m to take back my life, there is no other route. Without an easy, comfortable solution at my disposal, I must trust the solution that AA provides me. I must put my faith in something that doesn’t fit in a rocks glass. Something I haven’t seen. Someone I don’t know.

It’s a trip, making God my screwdriver, not a Stoli.

My new default, is to put my trust in something greater than could ever be set in front of me. It’s a solution I have to actively seek out. A tool that’s meant for me, and me alone.

And, when I find it, it’s going in the toolbox, next to the Phillips head. Hold the limes.

2 thoughts on “Day 8: The Empty Toolbox

  1. Eddie says:

    Thanks a lot for the post. Fear is a pretty deep topic! When I got sober, I saw how much my life was driven by fear. All of my actions were pretty much motivated (or de-motivated) by the presence of fear. While sober, the fear is still present. It is definitely an exciting journey to learn how I live, think, and operate. I am free today, although I still encounter fear. I am aware of it…and it does not paralyze me that way that it used to (mostly!). I got help getting sober from a place called New Life House. they helped me build a foundation for my recovery. Check out their site if you are looking for help. New Life House – A Structured Sober Living. Also, have you ever read any Krishnamurti books? He talks a lot about fear…pretty interesting stuff.

    • Thanks Eddie. Fear is a crazy thing, but, in being aware and dealing with it in a healthy way, we win little battles. I’ll have to check out Krishnamurti, I haven’t read him before, but, am a total book worm, so I will look it up. Thanks for the suggestion!

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