I like to give things up. It reminds me that nothing owns me. I don’t give a fuck about alcohol. Tea is a fair substitute for coffee. Candy seems pretty sad next to a bowl of raspberries. I prefer less stuff.

But what about my character? What about those crutches I use to hobble around — resources that may have been effective, at one time, but now just keep me in my own way? What about those? My biting tongue, for instance. My impulse to say the most hurtful thing I can think of when I have been injured. For a while, I thought I’d killed that little skill, but my wife would tell you otherwise. (Actually, she wouldn’t tell you otherwise. But it’s true nonetheless.)

I made the mistake, in my youth, of attempting to negotiate relationships with people who don’t share my values. I don’t do that anymore. I don’t work with clients whose morality fluctuates. I don’t have friendships with people I don’t like. I don’t tell you lies to spare your feelings. I am no longer willing to concede to intrusion — to let you pop my bubble to get right up against me. You can take shots from 8 circles out, if you must, but the inner circles are for people I trust. And only for people I trust. There is no sanctuary for assholes now.

This is what sobriety is for: authentic relationships. To separate yourself from impulses to destroy and impulses to relinquish. To separate yourself. To isolate the you that is most. And be that as often as possible.

And this is a life’s work. That’s the part we forget. You aren’t finished. Nobody is finished. We’ve always got work to do, man. We’re always getting started.

5 thoughts on “Sobriety”

  1. nope we ain’t finished yet. My Memere used to have a saying, “Three times around the camp fire” which meant you got to make the same mistake or complain about the same thing three times before you had to burn the damn thing and start on something else – and also the friends who had been listening got to tell you “Enough – we’ve been three times around the camp fire.”

  2. I love this, Jill. The concentric circles image is totally right for me. I don’t apologize for my opinions anymore, not with my friends. Sobriety changes you – makes you less willing to put up with bullshit – your own or other’s. As always, thanks for clarifying. Love you.

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