Two Years: A Sobriety Essay

I knew that my two-year anniversary of when I quit drinking was coming up, but I couldn’t remember the exact date. Early December, I remembered. It’s funny, because the date used to be burned into my memory. I would be able to say, five weeks, three days. Or, two months, two weeks and four days. After a year had gone by, the actual date itself got sort of forgotten. It just wasn’t as important anymore.

Since I knew my anniversary was coming up, I felt compelled to write an essay to commemorate it. I even looked back at my first sobriety essay. Even there, I didn’t recite the specific date, I had just said, “A little over five weeks ago.” I decided to look and confirm the actual date. Doing it… was actually sort of painful. I had to remember the day itself, something I don’t believe, out of all of my essays, I actually talked about. In my essays, I spend a lot of time talking about how it was a great decision for me to ditch alcohol, but casually skip over the, “This is how I got to this point.”

The date was December 2, 2020, as of writing, exactly two years ago. How’s that for a coincidence, huh? I confirmed the date by cross-referencing dates online, I remember it was the same day my wife, some friends and I had seen Roxane Gay speak at The Getty. I had gotten drunk the night before and was hungover and decided some hair of the dog was just what the doctor ordered. I knew my wife wouldn’t have any of it, especially because my drinking up until that point had been slowly getting worse and worse, and more and more frequent–so I snuck it. I drank in secret, to the point where I was drunk again, slurring my words. I spent the whole lecture wondering, is this it? Is today the day I finally fucking admit that I’m a goddamned alcoholic? When we got home, I did, and the next day, sober, I regretted nothing. I was scared, yes. I was really scared that I’d fail, but I had no regrets about deciding to quit drinking. That part I felt secure in.

Two years is both a short period of time and a tremendous amount of time, all at once. It’s short in that I remember it like yesterday and the basic details of my life are the same. But so much has changed. I no longer live in Los Angeles, I’m back in Arizona, this time in Tucson. I own a home. I have a different job than the one I’d had for damn near 11 years. My parents moved out to Arizona to be closer to all us kids. My dad didn’t make it quite a year out of California, he died in July. I also lost a very good friend of mine this year. Both in the middle of a global pandemic. I wrote more extensively about that previously, but it’s hard to imagine that I’ve gone through this change, this bullshit, these losses, without having a drink. It used to be that I’d look for excuses to drink. A bad day? Shit, let’s stop at the store and get some beer. It’s hot today? Well, hell, let’s drink to that! But, now, all I can do is process the pain. I don’t even smoke cigarettes anymore. Sometimes it’s hard, but nowhere near as hard as living with the guilt of knowing I’m killing myself with liquor–that awful guilty feeling of loathing.

I’ve been at my new job for almost a year now. It’ll be a year next week. And I’ve finally wrapped on my first novel. My wife is proofreading it for me right now and she’ll occasionally say things like, “You use way too many ellipses.” So, when that’s done, that’ll be another thing to tick off when thinking about all I’ve done since I’ve quit drinking. It’s hard to believe I actually finished it. I had the basic germ of the idea when I was 19. I was drunk when I had the idea. Then I wrote the first pages of it drunk. I even wrote an entire draft while drinking. But then I actually finalized it, edited it and made it coherent while sober.

This morning, before I knew it was my two-year anniversary, I told my wife I was going to write an essay and she told me she got me something that might help me with inspiration. It was a chip, a two year chip, commemorating my anniversary.