Being Young and Sober Sucks

My first real day sober was February 5th, 2008. What a shitty day. The long ass delusional story that got me to that point was something straight out of the movie "A Beautiful Mind" and not because I'm a genius or even that smart. Keep reading, I'll probably prove it. 

A second trip to the looney bin after I'd just been released was't fun but the problem definitely was not me. I was forced into this temporary sobriety by the state and because I'm a "danger to myself and others". What did they know? Didn't they knew who I was? I was the victim here and just misunderstood. 

They knew exactly who and what I was. A little weasel who thought he could talk his way out of anything. I was in over my head because my head was in my ass and my bullshit wasn't going to fly anymore.

Once they finally let me out I'm went to inpatient treatment, which I slept through, then sober living.  I agreed to the treatment to get the state off my ass and sober living was to get my family off my ass. Still my heads up there so what did I know about who's on it or why. 

Going to a mental hospital and even jail is pretty easy. You don't have to do much. Going to sober living is hard because you have to do everything. 

I can't put it into words how uncomfortable it was. Wichita was the big city to me and suddenly in the hood living with 13 other addicts and alcoholics was terrifying. 

I was up in the double room with a computer and the drum machine I'd had since 2003, pretty much all I started over with. It was hot and uncomfortable and group living was a new concept to me. 

We split up house duties evenly and on my 24th birthday I found myself mowing the lawn. I can vividly remember being in the backyard beaten from the sun and out of shape from chain-smoking wondering "how the hell did I get here?" 

It sucks being sober at that age. The feeling of missing out was almost crippling, especially on days like that. Friday and Saturday nights were the worst. My housemates would drag me from beat making to meetings and though I'm good at isolating, they were good at disrupting it.

Though I only planned to stay in sober living through the summer things slowly started getting better. But slow is progress in the right direction and as I started  working on myself and doing what was expected of me, life started changing. 

The first year was really hard and though I felt like one big open wound I knew messing up would just make things that much worse. Nothing against back home but I just royally crashed and burned and I was practically pressing though because of spite. I didn't anyone to say, "I knew he'd be back." If I messed up I'd have been back home with my tail between my legs, again. 

The job of "produce re-filler guy" at grocery stores is a hard job and I have a  respect for those dudes. I took restroom breaks just to sit on the toilet because my legs hurt so much. That gig didn't last long but I was offered a mighty fine job at Blockbuster Video after a fairly difficult battery of tests. Naming 6 of 10 Arnold Schwarzenegger movies got me hired but I totally could have gotten 10 if he gave me more time. 

It's an easy job for a high school kid but harder if you're a 12 year old in a 24 yr olds body.  That's why being sober sucks. Ring up customers. Sounded simple. I didn't know how to talk to a human being though. I'd been drunk nearly non-stop the past couple years and couldn't have been more awkward. 

One night I rang up a girl who I'd partied with a year prior while at K-State. We'd hung out a few times and when I mentioned it she was stunned. I was unrecognizable. Maybe because I was much heavier, or healthier, however you see it, but maybe it was because I was standing without leaning on something. Either way she was shocked and not in a good way. 

That first year sober reminded me of that game minesweeper. It was the only game on computers back in the day when computers couldn't do much. That was early sobriety. Press one more day past misery and something would open up. Something good would happen. It was always, always past the point of "fuck this shit I quit". It's the extra mile after you've puked or the next take after you've done 100. 

In sobriety the "fuck it's" are a real thing and I had them a lot. I still get them. That first year doing the "next right thing", though simple, was the best advice ever. Everything appeared terrible or not going my way. Pissed off or frustrated, totally against my will and dragging my feet I'd do the next right thing and something would go right. I'd get a lucky bounce or an unexpected blessing. 

My first day as a shift manager at blockbuster my boss called me "stupid". I've often played dumb and was probably playing dumb that day. He didn't deserve it but I'm 12, so I take off my shirt, throw it at him, cuss him out and start walking. I'd had enough and this was a life changing case of the fuck its. If he hadn't gotten in his car and picked me up who knows where I'd be today. 99% of bosses would've let me walk. For some reason he came and got me. He was patient with me. Apologized as did I and I went back. 

Didn't seem like much at the time but little things like that saved my life. People not giving up on me and giving me a chance. I have rarely acted like that since. Once back inside I realized my attitude put me in a terrible position. I should have just laid on the train tracks and waited to get hit. There's not much of a difference. 

The first year sucks and it's minesweeper so keep pressing forward. You're going to get a break past the point of giving up. 

If your head is up your ass you don't need a map because doing the next right thing, especially when you don't want to, will get you where you need to go. You're still going to hit minesweeper landmines but the more you hit, if you're doing the next right thing, the more the board will open up.