I have five years of continuous sobriety. And with more and more clarity each year brings, life has never been more mysterious.
I'll elaborate: I've had some interesting dreams lately, interesting in that there's a theme. No one wants to endure the retelling of a dream so I won't bore you with the scene-by-scene but the fascination lies in the interpretation.
The night before my five year sobriety birthday, I dreamt that I showed up for my five year celebration knowing that I'd actually drank a few times over the years. I would feel the real shame from the dishonesty, but I'd just swallow it, "No one will ever know." The next night I dreamt that I was showing some furniture I'd designed but I'd really only copied the designs from Ikea. When the shameful feelings came up, "You have no new ideas, you only regurgitate things you've absorbed", I'd try and swallow them again but was left with, "Everyone knows."
When I was journaling out these dreams, the words that kept showing up for me was: fraud, pride, ego, humility. I always thought these words held only one meaning and that meaning only went in the direction of negativity. In recovery is when I discovered that most ideas I held so close to capital T Truth actually embody so much paradox. As a woman and a mother, when presented with those words, I recoiled. I thought that I'd already given up so much of myself and that was the capital R Reason why I tried to prop up what little that was left of me with alcohol. But when someone offered the idea that ego and pride doesn't always mean that I'm better than others but ALSO that I'm worse than others, that humility isn't just someone who is selfless but that thinks of themselves less, that it's both/and, those ideas turned me on my head.
When thinking about the disease model and my own relationship to alcohol, the Disease of More is the nuanced version of that language that makes sense to me. That I have. I want experiences to be off the rails in either direction. The truth is, most sober days are pretty normal, devoid of extremes. Milestones are satisfying but they're also just another Saturday. But when I reflect on the collection of all of those days, they add up to a pretty good life. And when I slip into magical thinking, when I stop to check myself and my grandiosity is telling me that I'm above the rules, I remind myself that if that is so, then the opposite is also true: I'm not the fraud I dreamt I was.
So what is 'it' then? What were those dreams telling me? I'm guessing it has something to do with fear. Doesn't everything? Fear of failure so I'll pick things I can't fail at. Fear of being too bright because then if the light goes out, I won't be able to handle the darkness. Both/and. Yes, that's right, five years of sobriety and I have more questions than answers. Having answers makes me feel resigned but questions, those are vibrant invitations and I will continue to open the door gladly, each and every day they knock.