Day 155: Checking In Before Checking Out

Checking in with myself…I kinda hate it.

I’ll tell you why. Because, if I need to check in with myself, chances are something is not going well.

My gut is pretty spot on. Even while I was drinking fifths of bourbon or three bottles of wine at-a-go, I always knew: Something isn’t right here. Addiction is about, not only ignoring that feeling, but, doing your damnedest to blot that feeling out. So, in sobriety, checking in can become a painful task.

When you actually stop to see what you’re feeling, well, don’tcha know, you may find you actually feel something. So, we recovering addicts replace the booze and drugs with other distractions. Some of us smoke inordinate amounts of cigarettes, some guzzle coffee by the gallon, some find a suitable partner and go do the nasty all day, others buy enough chocolate to satisfy the neighborhood for five consecutive Halloweens and eat it in one sitting. There are lots and lots of ways to replace the booze or drugs. But, all it is, in actuality, is a cover up. It’s avoiding feeling something. Something bad. Something painful.

But, the point of sobriety, aside from abstaining from drinking or drugging, is to actually tap into those feelings. Start managing them. It’s an attempt not only at abstinence, but an opportunity to figure out who you actually are, without your substance. Emotional sobriety has to walk hand in hand with being physically sober. They kinda work together to make your life a great place to be.

Today, Lars and I bowled, which, much to my excitement, has become a regular Sunday outing. After a super fun couple of hours at the lanes, we parted ways, as we always do, to get to the other tasks our respective days had in store. As I drove away from the bowling alley, my stomach sank. It was that pit-bottoming-out sensation. That feeling I used to get right before I got geared up to head out to the pub.

I knew I wasn’t going to drink today. So, naturally, my mind immediately went directly to chocolate. As I stood in line at Trader Joe’s with four bars of dark chocolate w/sea salt, it occurred to me: You don’t want chocolate. I put the bars back and wandered around the store for another twenty minutes trying to decide what I was hungry for in that moment. And, as I stared at the boxes of cereal, I realized, I wasn’t hungry at all.

What was going on here? What was I trying to distract myself from feeling? I tried to pinpoint the “hunger’s” origin. It started just as I was leaving the bowling alley. Then, I immediately made plans to go to the store. As I sat and thought about it, I realized, I didn’t want to go home and be all alone. I didn’t want to watch, yet another, episode of Grey’s Anatomy with just my cat. It hit me: I was sad and lonely because I had to leave Lars.

Dark chocolate and cereal was not going to fix this.

I called Lars, told him I missed him even though we’d spent the last two hours together. He made time for me in his schedule so that we could hang out that evening.

It’s hard sometimes, checking in. Sometimes you can’t fix the thing that’s bugging you, let alone identify it, so easily. But, sometimes, you can. So, do yourself a favor, skip the two thousand calories worth of chocolate and ask yourself what it is you’re really craving, what you’re really feeling. And then, work on getting that taken care of first. Or else get fat, very, very, fat.

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