On this day, I give thanks to my past self for deciding, five years ago, to quit drinking

5-years-soberMost things in life don’t live up to the hype. But, for me at least, quitting drinking did. Everything good in my life flows from that moment. After I quit drinking, I almost immediately became much more serious about my writing. In the first year after quitting, I finished my first novel. In the second, I finished my second (and so on). I was able to make plans for the future. I was able to learn how to make and sustain friendships in an organized fashion. I was even able to start having romantic relationships (yeah, I know, I’m like the only alcoholic who never got laid…it’s so annoying).

I had a whole other post written here and it contained scattered musings on recovery, but I think today isn’t the day for that. Today is the day for me to say that I feel profoundly grateful to that person, five years ago, who decided to stop.

I really have no idea why he did it. As the years pass, it seems more and more crazy to me that he—on the basis of remarkably little information regarding what would happen—actually decided to quit doing something that was such an integral part of his life. I mean, at the time, I remember feeling afraid for my life. But that’s all I had: fear. I had no positive vision for the future. I didn’t know what would happen. I didn’t know what I’d become. In fact, my worry was the opposite. I worried that I’d change so much that I wouldn’t be myself anymore, and I was only able to quit after I’d reassured myself that that wouldn’t happen.

Which it did, of course! I’ve changed so much that it’s absurd. People routinely describe me using the antonyms of words that they would’ve used eight years ago. They’ll say, “Oh, Rahul is so organized. He’s so dependable. He’s so good at talking to people,” where they once might’ve said “Rahul is disorganized, unreliable, and anti-social.” It’s weird that I’m now particularly accomplished in the same areas where I was once particularly bad.

You know, I always used to think recovering alcoholics were being ridiculous when they said, “My worst day sober is better than my best day of drinking,” but I don’t anymore. In fact, to me that seems like an almost banal thing to say.

Obviously my best sober day is better than my best day of drinking. Because even on my best day of drinking—my euphoric, most productive and social moment—my life was still a mess!

And it was that person: myself at what was literally one of my loneliest and most depressed and disorganized points, who had to face one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. Isn’t that crazy? The points in life which we require the most determination and confidence are always the times when we have the least to spare.

Anyway, I’m really glad that I no longer have to face problems like, “Should I keep drinking or should I stop?” And the reason I’m free of these conundrums is because my past self solved them for me. So, umm, that’s pretty awesome. And it’s a gift that I reap every day.

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