888 Days of awakening
888 Days of unfolding
888 Days of waking without shame
888 Days of becoming
888 Days of growing up
888 Days of freedom
888 Days of sobriety
888 Days of falling ever deeper in love with life, my life and with myself
I’m writing this from my hotel room in Brooklyn. I am here because I sold a painting to a collector who lives here. I started painting the year I got sober. I had never thought of painting as a thing I could do before, and now, it has become something that I can not do without. As I sit here feeling the unfathomable depths of my freedom, my eight hundred and eight eight days of ever expanding freedom, it feels mystical, other worldly, real, grounded, sure, practical and true.
I can feel the pleading fear of alcohol screaming from some peoples eyes. I feel a wave of compassion, so much love and more gratitude than my heart can hold, before growing bigger yet again. More love, more grace, more longing for every human suffering in the inperceptibly tightening noose of alcohol to be free, like me.
My heart aches for my father, who never got free. I don’t know how old he was when he got started. I know that addiction to alcohol and addiction to gambling lead him down a path that would see him loose everything, including his life. He lost his ability to be a husband, a father, a brother, a son. He lost his ability to live legally, the only employment he could find in the end was in a world that would eventually leave him dead at 44, his body alone and rotting for days or weeks before it was found. Cremated before anyone could be found to care to ask what happened?
I ache for my husbands father who lost everything to alcohol too. Still alive but gone, nothing left of the man who took his son sailing on a lake in the summers when alcohol was still fun. The years my husband and later I worried and worked trying to save him, showing up for him time and again, no matter what, trying to love him into wanting to get sober. That time he was clean for a few weeks after another dramatic scene of broken bones and medical detox. Him coming over to our house and me cooking dinner for us. We all drank alcohol free beer and tried not to notice his teeth, his mouth a mess of broken brown, sharp looking stubs. Trying not to break at the fragility and courage of him; fifty going on 85, going on 12. Then the slurry phone calls in the night that soon followed, asking for money, always more money please, please. Broken promises after broken promises, stealing all hope that our daughter would ever have a grandfather.
I think of all the waste, the horror and abuse that alcohol enabled to flourish wildly, abundantly in my family. Because mostly everyone still had jobs, ran businesses, kept their cars, the house, it was never discussed, never seen as a problem. Alcoholics looked like my father. Everyone else was just drinking normally.
Alcohol is over for me. And I do not miss it. Not one little bit. There are rare moments where it charges out from the depths of my subconscious and rattles me or shakes me to my core but I stare that shit down and it dissipates. There is always something to learn from these ambushes.
A few months ago I was walking past a Japanese Izakaya bar in my neighborhood, when a longing for cold beer in frosty glasses with fried Japanese food sank my stomach, bent me forward and hollowed out my chest. What the fuck? I broke it down. It was sensory - the light, the frosty glasses, the specific smell of fried Japanese food. Fear. And longing. It wasn’t a craving, it was a longing but for what? A feeling. A feeling of freedom, empowerment and wonder. Fear that I would never get to feel that way again. I traced it back to that time I escaped a sex trafficking situation in Japan when I was 20. Sitting in an Izakaya in Narita airport with the girl I had saved along with me, both with tickets in our hands with seats on flights that would take us home. And I had done it. Me. I had planned, orchestrated and pulled off the whole escape on my own, with a little help from Hideto. I had saved myself and saved another. I felt invincible, blessed beyond reason and sure that every moment from that moment on would keep rewarding me for my bravery, a life times guarantee of worth.
To get free from alcohol we have to want freedom with everything we’ve got. And just as alcohol doesn’t only numb the pain - it numbs love, compassion, empowerment and especially joy - freedom is also an all or nothing deal. We GET the opportunity to get free on a daily basis, often at the most inconvenient times, whether we want to or not. And the prize for all this bravery and showing up? A life times guarantee of ever expanding worth.