4 Years Sober

It's perhaps more difficult to write about addiction the further you are away from it. I am four years sober today, an unsatisfying number because it doesn't have the majesty of five, yet still remains my crowning achievement in life. And the thing about addiction is: you will never be away from it.

Four years sober is having a collection of friends who never knew you as you were before. Your terrible stories are funny now, as though they happened to somebody else. Those you wronged have probably forgiven you. You've processed the times you were hurt by others and the memories no longer cause you to flinch at inopportune moments.

It's hard to explain, even to people who knew me then. How I panicked; agitated every day unless I had a few bottles lined up alongside me. How I couldn't leave the house except to race, head down, to the corner shop to pay for my keg of Scrumpy with silver coins. The cuts, the bruises. How I still don't remember the worst nights, how those memories never came back.

Sure, there were the nights when I drank and parties and drank and laughed and drank. The 'fun side' of binge drinking, at least until the morning. But more than that, I was ruled by alcohol. Every path I took had the promise of a drink at the end.

Four years sober, I still feel like I have to explain myself. I used the word 'alcoholic' the other day in a serious context, and it felt jarring. It still feels relevant, years later, because some days I still crave the taste of spirits on my tongue and the feeling of reckless abandon. The thrill of escaping yourself for a precious few hours. But those hours turned into days for me, and then years. From 15 to 26 I was living moment to moment, an autopilot cruise from pint to pint. 

Alcoholics live with the fear that they might forget the dark times. One day voice in their head might whisper, "Oh come on, it. wasn't that bad." and one day they might give in to it. They'll have a tipple, just to make sure. It took me years of failed attempts to ignore that voice, and so now I live with that fear. Still. So I'll keep writing about alcohol, occasionally. I will describe this lost decade of my life to remind myself what it cost me, and why I can never go back.