My twins are taking Chemistry this year. I am in awe because Science was never my best subject. Like most women my age, Science and Math were not stressed for us as girls and therefore we did not perform well. Now English? I kicked ass in English!
Anyway, I do remember one concept from science that I’ve been thinking about lately – the concept of positively and negatively charged ions and how the world can be split into positives and negatives in pretty much any situation, but that you need the balance of both to not actually blow up the world.
Even people tend to fall into one category or another. I am an almost obnoxiously positive person – my glass is not only full, it’s overflowing. My friend Eyeore (not her real name) is more of a negative personality type – she doesn’t even have a glass. But I love her and she loves me and when we are together we provide balance for each other .
So I’ve been applying this concept to my drinking life vs. my recovery/sober life. At first I thought that sober was firmly placed in the positive category while drinking was sitting sloppily on the negative side. Whoa! Slow your roll there mama. After I thought about it awhile longer, I determined that each had a little of both of those ions flying around in their camp.
My drinking life started out FUN. (And if a drunk ever tells you that they didn’t enjoy drinking, even in the beginning, I would be very skeptical of that person. Why in the hell would we do it if not for the fact that it started out FUN!) I was a funny drunk, full of self confidence and positivity…until I wasn’t. Drinking calmed me, made me part of the club, let me relax. Sitting around drinking wine was an experience…one only the cool kids did. It defined me. At 23 I got the nickname “funnel face” because I drank so much so fast. I wore that nickname as a badge of honor, thought it was funny…until it wasn’t. In the beginning the positives outweighed the negatives by a huge margin…until they didn’t.
In the same way, my sober life started out amazing! I was so proud to be sober. My kids were proud and my husband was proud and I think even the dogs were a little proud. I smiled a mysterious smile when offered a drink and just said, “No thank you”. Like I was so much better than the drinkers because I was the only one that would be sober at the end of the night and therefore not have a hangover the next day (I failed to see that normal people do not drink to the point of passing out and therefore seldom have hangovers).
But then real sobriety hit and I had to face all those reasons I drank in the first place. The reasons I couldn’t relax and be part of the club without drinking. The reasons I longed to be a cool kid. The reasons I needed the “experience”. Oops – now sobriety is no longer amazing. Now it’s hard. Now it hurts a little. Now it’s a negative.
I think this is the root of relapse (among many other completely complicated things) because you start out so positive and you have to work through the negative in order to find balance. That’s something I’ve never had much of…this concept of balance. That it takes a little of each – positive and negative – to achieve stability and balance in one’s life.
Well I’m not going to relapse (at least not today) because I’m smart enough to realize that anything worth having takes work and it’s not all sunshine and daisies no matter how badly I want it to be. But this finding balance is hard and not at all what I thought it would be. I told you I was no good at Science. Oh…but I will kick ass in Recovery.