Sooooo, the new year means nothing from a date perspective, every day is the start of another year so don’t wait until the 1st of blah blah to grow and change, just do it. BUT, as it pertains to this particular piece, the new year coincidentally coincides with when change tangibly actualized. Dec. 10th, my sobriety anniversary, is when I look at the upcoming year and what I want to do within that year. As per usual, being the best version of myself is the motivation and growth is the process, all to put greater good into the universe, which is the purpose. This year, my areas of deliberately focused efforts are on freedom(independence), family, friends, and finances (alliteration, gotta love it). This is not me ignoring my recovery and spiritual practices, none of the aforementioned focuses can be attained without sobriety. This is just me adding to my purview some things to give heightened and deliberate attention to. First things first, I moved into a new home, alone!
This probably isn’t a blogable event but I’m over 30 and have never lived alone. Wait, actually I did once back in ‘04-’05, for like four days. I was living with a girlfriend and had to ask her to leave. She left on a Tuesday morning and I lived alone until that friday night. I went out, met some nice young lady who spent the night and the next morning I gave her a key and got her a mani/pedi and told her to be home whenever I’m there, she agreed. Clearly, I was incapable of not having someone around.
As the youngest of 4, I was never alone in my family/home. I grew up in neighborhoods with a lot of kids that I played with all the time, so I was never alone outside of the house. I moved out at 18 to a party house that was open and on go literally 24/7 so, I was never alone. Throughout that time I was creating a habit of bad behaviors, decisions, and outcomes. None of which I had the tools to, nor an interest in facing or fixing so I’d keep my mind occupied with accompaniment and/or pot and booze.
From 18-34 every place I called home had either a clique or a girlfriend (or girlfriend and kids). My last house was a half mile from the downtown area of my town. Equipped with 2 kegerators and working at a brewery (in the center of downtown) my whole life was a nonstop party (Cinnamon Toast Crunch and IPA’s!). Until a DUI in April ‘15 stopped the party. In lieu of prison I was sent to rehab for a year where I was forced to spend a lot of time alone. I actually wanted change but no one, literally no one at my rehab shared my aspirations, so I spent the time by myself. I spent all of my time in my room reading and actually fell in love with the feelings of enlightenment and growth that I got from it. Over the next year, room-dwelling and information consumption became my new normal with no real thoughts of how that would translate to life outside of treatment facilities.
September 2016 I became a free man. Working for a property management company, finding a residence wasn’t a big worry though how I would respond to this freedom was a legitimate concern. A long time friend asked me to come live with her. I appreciated her presenting it as a request, it felt like she wanted me to live with her rather than her allowing me to live with her. Maybe she didn’t know, maybe she did, but she was saving me from myself. I’ve seen it a million times where people go from treatment to independence ill-equipped to handle the freedom of choice and they wound up right back where they started or worse off. Had I lived alone straight out, growth or no growth I probably would’ve latched to the first socially familiar situation I encountered and all growth would’ve stopped there. Instead, I moved out of rehab into a nice and established home in the greatest little town ever.
This is perfect, I’m living with someone I know, love, and trust who knows and cares about my recovery and can unofficially hold me accountable...and I’m not alone, in the good way. She did make a point to let me know this wasn’t going to be a party house which I thought was both funny and good. I’m sober, how ratchet could any social situation I was hosting really get? My first weekend there she skips town for like a week. I’m like “WTF?!” The concept of being alone in the real world was hella unsettling. Not because I was worried about drinking, I just didn’t know how to be alone and productive in a world with countless distractive options to prevent it.
The first several months were very revealing as to where I was in my growth process. I had friends that came and spent the night fairly often (it was innocent, no really, it was). Prior to that year in treatment, I hadn’t slept alone in over a decade. I’d convinced myself that if I wasn’t hooking up with these women then I was doing nothing against my growth. The truth of the matter was that I’d just recreated my former reality with minor adjustments. Granted, I wasn’t being a ratchtastic slut monkey, but I wasn’t totally and authentically pursuing my growth.
The value in knowledge of truth and the authentic desire to be in it is that they work as their own barometer, serving notice when purpose and behaviors are misaligned. When my actions contradict my true objective there’s a conviction in my gut (soul). I then have the option to listen and respond to that conviction or ignore it. Because I truly wanted the changes I was pursuing didn’t mean that I’d know exactly how to navigate the process. Trial and error are okay, even expected but always looking out for those gut signals and being willing to change are paramount. It took a bit but I saw the change needed and stopped having sleepovers for the sake of combating loneliness.
Before this gets too lengthy I’ll speed this up.
I opted against familiarity and what I got in return was time. It’s amazing, like REALLY amazing how much growing you can do when you substitute distraction with deliberate action (prayer, meditation, writing, and reading or whatever you do to center and open YOURself). I came to value myself and my time. My social time was spent with people that fostered growth. I started to reach out to be of service to others. I found soul joy in service and discovered my purpose. Because I was open to be led I was shown a path which allowed me to be of service in ways outside of providing support/counsel (which I still do a ton of). I started chairing (leading) a step study at an AA meeting, I built a website, started a brand...I grew.
Being alone subtly went from feared and loathed, to tolerated to valued, to desired. I got to the place where I was ready to have my own space and the universe provided. We happened have a quaint and cozy little studio apt attached to our current home which, quite frankly, would be perfect. I didn’t own any of the necessary furnishings to outfit a full home anyway so this was ideal. The current tenant of the apartment and my roommate were already friends and hung out socially at the main house so it was just a matter of me posing the question. She and my roommate were cool with it so it was all systems go!
The move took a few hours (total) over couple days and December 28th I was in MY home. Then reality sets in, I don’t own shit! I mean, plates, cups, silverware, pot & pans, cleaning supplies...nothing that goes outside of the bedroom. Disappointed and mildly ashamed, I sit on my bed and order everything I can think of to stock my home.
I could minimize this move in a lot of ways but what the heck for?! I’m doing something I never could’ve or would’ve done before on account of so many forms of inability. Inabilities that I no longer have, that’s growth.
So night one in my new place, what do I do? Sit on the couch with a book and a fork and plate that was loaned to me. I loaded it with chitlins and drank out of the half gallon jug of Bojangle’s sweet tea. THIS is home sweet home, alone.
SN: I guess I should say something informative in the first post of the year. The point I’m attempting to convey is that growth takes time and in that time what’s required is sustained effort. A thing I’ve learned is that if it’s familiar and comfortable it’s not fostering growth. That doesn’t always mean it’s destructive but it’s not forward progress and we don’t do stagnant (ain’t nobody got time fo dat). If we imprison ourselves in the mediocrity of familiarity and comfort we will never have the freedom to eat chitlins on our couch.
P.S. I have pots, pans, silverware, and dishes now!
Thanks for reading.