Not an imprisonment thing, more like a whole-body house arrest. Not about freedom of anything or freedom from anything. It’s a place of self-isolation, a lonely form of solitary no matter how large the crowd.
For some, that’s physical. For others, it’s social. For me, it leaks out in sarcasm. And shutting people out or down – the knee-jerk of feelings we experience on the gridiron of life cannot be protected by padding and helmets. We crash into life the way fullbacks crash the defensive line; we get crushed if we are too bold, and we get crushed if we are too timid. If we’re likely to get crushed, better have a success strategy mapped out first.
An invisible membrane, separation from things, from people, from acceptance, from being appreciated. That’s neither fear nor shame, but isolation requiring insulation. Booze was my insolation and isolation tool, and I had so little equilibrium without it …
Many thanks to kind readers who called or wrote with comments on yesterday’s column. I feel I owe you this P.S. to yesterday’s column:
Because it might help others struggling to quit their addiction. I felt daily white-knuckled dread. That first day, and then the days which followed. For me, it was mostly the first couple of weeks quite severely. I hadn’t told anyone. Nobody knew. Nobody noticed. It felt like nobody cared. What if I couldn’t stay sober? Fear of telling anyone before I was certain myself was unthinkable. When would I know that I’d quit for certain? Concerning too, people would notice I wasn’t drinking and might say something, ridicule me, or not understand. No worries. Nobody noticed. By the time I’d been sober a month, those fears evaporated – but one lingered. The scariest was that I would fail, and if I failed, I would have no options left – the humiliation of first telling people I’d quit and then failing. Worse yet, that in failing, I would have no farther to fall, because there is no drain at the bottom of that sewer. That’s dire, overly dramatic, and false – but in that state of mind, it’s completely real. When our self-worth evaporates your backbone it is very hard to stand up. I never felt more alone in my life, before or since, and that vulnerability is buried, but very deeply …
Congratulations Mark. Great message today, DA, Toronto, ON
Congratulations Mark. A terrific life giving milestone for sure. I hit my own 35 year sobriety marker in January, BE, Calgary, AB
Congratulations, Mark! 34 years is a huge milestone you should be super proud of! Here’s to many more sober years J Cheers, PW, Calgary, AB
Congrats, Mark. And, thank you for sharing your story – that takes bravery, SB, Calgary, AB
Thirty four years, that is a commendable accomplishment and congrats are duly earned. Even more, what you've done since is also remarkable and shows what you've got inside. Celebrate Mark, it's well deserved. Your daily column is a huge commitment, with it's honesty and tell it like it is helps others and connects as only another human can. Celebrate what you've done for yourself, and add a bit of celebration for what you do and what you've become. LK, Calgary, AB
Well then , CONGRATULATIONS !!, AN, Calgary, AB
Perfect morning for today’s musing, Mark. I really enjoyed your borrowed phrase: ‘I was deteriorating faster than I could lower my standards’. Congratulations on 34 years being sober. Always a pleasure, Mark, to speak with you, and to read your daily musings and your other publications. Merry Christmas by the way. And a Happy New Year; hopefully, a year with much less social distancing ( in the wake of an effective vaccine). I would like to get out to a packed restaurant without a mask and fear of infection. 2021 here we come, RT, White Rock, BC
I hope all is going well with you. Congratulations on your anniversary, CN, Calgary, AB