A week or so ago, a whole bunch of people – thousands, maybe even millions – resolved to make a change in their lives.
If you’re one of the lucky few who are still hanging in there, then you might not want to read the rest of this piece. (Why don’t you just file it away in case one day soon the wagon you swore to ride to “thin rich happy girl-land” hits a bump in the road and you slide off into the dust with the somewhat lumpy rest of us who are still working for a living?)
We’ve got a cupcake waiting for you.
Today, I’m writing to people like me: those of us who are “first to fall.”
In case it’s not apparent by now, I kinda sorta suck at riding in wagons. It makes me feel lonely to accept this about myself, cause EVERYBODY believes in this “resolutions” process.
But alas, wagon-riding simply doesn’t work for me. And, one lifelong conundrum I haven’t resolved yet, is that I want to be included WITH the crowd while – at the same time – I stand APART from them.
This means I live quite a bit of my life in social purgatory.
Anyway, back to that wagon:
Some years ago, I wrote a piece called, “I Resolve Not to Resolve.” I don’t want to RE-“solve” anything ever again.
I’d like to get it right the first time.
If insanity really is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results, than “RE-“ doing anything again and again is a little bit nuts.
But now, rigorous honesty demands that I share with you something important that I haven’t told you yet. If you’re a member of our tribe, you’re gonna find out about it next week anyway.
I’ve written a new little book for you. You’ll get your copy next week via email. Anyway, I’m pretty sure I didn’t write much in there about resolutions. But I did share with you a pretty important personal concern of mine.
Last October, I celebrated 24 consecutive years of sobriety – one day at a time. I was 27-years old when I took my last drink. Next month, I will be 52.
I didn’t RESOLVE to get sober when I was 27. I wasn’t even supposed to be an alcoholic, for god’s sake. I got good grades. That should have done it.
Nevertheless, I “caught” alcoholism after a very short and not too interesting stint as a drinker. I’ve been sober now THREE TIMES as long as I drank.
If, like me, you’re wondering how an ardent non-wagon-rider has been able to do that, here’s what I think:
I think it’s because I fell in love with sobriety. I fell in love with the PROCESS. I fell in love with the IDEAS. And, I am a collector of ideas.
Indeed, my greatest love in life is to DISCOVER stuff. Essentially, I live for the “aha’s” in life.
In the beginning of my sobriety, when this way of life was so completely new to me, those “aha’s” were coming in rapid succession.
After a few years, those delicious moments of clarity began to come less frequently. But, by then, my entire life was built around my program of recovery, and that sustained me for many, many years.
Understand, I was never on any wagon.
I was part of a movement – a fellowship.
I had found my tribe.
When you get your copy of my book next week, you will learn that most of last year I struggled with my place in this tribe. The truth is, I’ve struggled with that “problem” for the last several years.
I’m still sober, but sobriety has lost its flavor for me. And that is a bit of a problem.
So – what to do? What to do?
If, like me, you completely suck at wagon-riding, then I’m guessing you know the pain of self-doubt and self-castigation that comes to all of us with dust on our lumpy britches.
I don’t ride wagons, and yet, one day at a time, I’ve been sober for all these years.
How is this possible?
Well, I think that “one day at a time” part is pretty important. I don’t RE-solve to do anything. One day at a time, I make a decision. To move forward, or not.
I’m still making that decision. But, I’m pretty sure that that decision alone will NOT keep me sober forever.
The reason I’m in trouble is because sobriety has lost its flavor for me. It’s zest. It’s appeal. (Please understand that there is a difference for me between “not drinking” and “sobriety.” “Not drinking” is a state of being. “Sobriety” is a way of life.)
I am not drinking. But I am no longer CURIOUS about sobriety in and of itself. I want and need MORE now.
When I am with a group of sober people, I am often the person with the longest-term sobriety there. That doesn’t make me better than anyone else. I love and honor each of the members of my community.
It just means that I’ve been there so long, I rarely hear anything fresh or new. The “aha’s” have long since dried up for me.
For the longest time, this has really worried me. For one thing, it’s completely verboten to talk about this stuff with many sober people. You’re supposed to bring hope to the newcomers, not publicly share doubts because you are no longer finding what you came for.
Fortunately, the one thing that saves me again and again in life is that I’m a particularly ornery person. (Maybe this doesn’t surprise you.)
But the other thing that saves me is that I have a deep and abiding lifetime commitment to LEARNING.
I LOVE everything about it!
If you are a wagon-faller-offer but you want to make important changes in your life, get CURIOUS.
Instead of freaking out and feeling “less than,” fill your mind with WONDER.
Decide to think of things differently. Decide to think of your dilemma as a great adventure of discovery.
Sobriety is a challenge for me these days, because I forgot how important the spirit of discovery is to me.
I need to go on a journey.
A journey to Sobriety 2.0.
So, this year, one day at a time, I am setting off on a pilgrimage to find the true elders of my sober tribe – the ones who feel “happily and usefully whole.” The ones who are bright and alive and VIBRANT with long-term continuous sobriety but are actually interested in other shit, too.
I am very excited that, after struggling with this for so long, I finally see what I need to do.
Perhaps you too know the concern of feeling that life has lost its flavor. If so, let’s do this together.
Whatever your own particular struggle, I invite you to make a similar quest for yourself. I invite you to think of Life After Tampons as our evening campfire where each of us curious midlife explorers gathers to share what we have learned that day on our own individual journeys, whatever they may be.
I invite you to LOVE your life again, because loving your life is a DECISION.
I invite you to SHARE what you have found with us.
I will be here for you.
And, I’ll bring the marshmallows, of course.
Your sober friend, Jen
P.S. If you want to go along on this journey with us, please sign up here. You’ll also get a copy of my new book next week.