August 13, 2020

For those in Recovery, Staying Sober during COVID-19 is Not Easy.

Today, I am three years, three months, two weeks, and two days sober.

For those in recovery, we know that all we really have is today.

We know, too, that this cumulative time that I have is nothing short of a miracle. Factoring in that my time has stayed intact during the COVID-19 pandemic is beyond miraculous.

I took my third birthday on a Zoom call the second month of quarantine (April 26th). I missed hugging it out with my friends at my homegroup, but was grateful, nonetheless, for the milestone and the (what I thought was temporary) Zoom meeting that I got to share my experience, strength, and hope on.

What I shared at the time was that acceptance was the answer. And it is, always.

Accepting our current circumstances for what they are (not necessarily loving them) is critical to staying sober during challenging times. I told everyone that quarantining was frustrating but that I was staying in touch with my peers, I was praying, journaling, keeping up my daily exercise, and this would all be over soon, so stay in the moment, and we’ll all be fine. But I worried—for myself, for everyone in recovery, and especially those who needed to find recovery.

At the time, all in-person recovery meetings were cancelled. Medical detox centers were not taking new patients. I would get calls from friends of friends inquiring about my knowledge of any facility doing intake. I knew of none. It hit me that if this quarantine didn’t end soon, people were going to die.

Here I am, August, 2020. It’s not over. People have died and are dying.

Isolating at home, alone, is an addict’s paradise. This was my preferred environment toward the end of my drinking career. The world is basically encouraging us to hole up and stay safe.

I’m not arguing the medical community’s recommendations; I’m simply identifying a very real issue for the recovery community: isolation can be deadly.

I’m holding up my side of the bargain. I’m staying sober while staying safer-at-home, wearing a mask when I go out, keeping up my gratitude list, praying, exercising, eating right, and finding acceptance with all this, usually. Well, except for the sober part. I’ve done that 100 percent of the time through the writing of this post.

But make no mistake, the rest, including my emotional sobriety, is a grind.

Some days, I’m more successful at it than others. Some days, it’s a miracle I got out of bed, honestly. I work from home and used to go into my office a couple of days a week, socialize with my peers, grab lunch at the café, and make small talk with the doorman. But I’m in my home office…Every. Single. Day.

Yes, I know—at least I have a job. I’m in an essential industry and for that, trust me, I’m incredibly grateful. But the monotony can get to a person, and I’m not exempt.

My default setting is fear, anxiety, and awfulizing. I can take myself from hero to zero in less than 60 seconds. I’m practically an expert at it. I’ve been practicing it for nearly 50 years! But sitting in these particular feelings will lead me down a relapse path, and I don’t have another recovery in me.

I know the world’s problems will still be there when I come to with a giant hangover after about a week of binging. I’ll just have a ridiculous wheelbarrow of wreckage and regret to rise above once again. No, thank you.

So, I dial in to the dang Zoom AA Meetings. I pray. I meditate. I call my friends in recovery, including my sponsor. I tell someone if I’m feeling anxious and scared. I show up for work (remotely) every day. I have upped my spiritual studies, and I need to remember the Universe has a plan for me, and it is going to be okay.

We’ll all be okay if we just keep doing the next right thing. For me, sometimes the next right thing is merely taking a nap. But it’s not drinking, so it must be right.

Today is almost over so I can count one more day sober. Miracles do exist.


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