Sobahs Beddah: A public letter to my sober self about my feelings on mortality. (1 Viewer)


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I keep telling myself that Sobahs Beddah (Sobers Better for those not from Boston). I keep chugging along. Dealing with life on lifes terms. I go to meetings and connect with a few people, some who occasionally I befriend. These people become reciprocal structures of support that aid me in my recovery. When someone leaves this world, our network shrinks and we are left with the lingering emotions of loss. The reality is that we are all* broken and can barely tolerate each other. When I say all* I mean us as a humanity. We seem to exist together as corporeal abrasives who interact with each other out of proximity, necessity or boredom. We alcoholics tend to gravitate to each other as water finds its own proverbial level. Perhaps we who share the same last name (Alcoholic) can be even more so abrasive then our non alcoholic counterparts. Do we all not chafe against each other as we go through life. In traffic, at work, online, in romance or in this group or that. Adversaries or compatriots, friend or foe, stranger or insider, new comer or old timer.

Recently my friend & neighbor died who I met in AA meetings. His name was Tom. He moved to my city where lots of us on the lower economic levels in my region end up. As the housing crisis's and recessions rocked most of the US, some areas just keep prospering. Gentrification we could call it where once working class/urban neighborhoods gave way to swanky hipster enclaves where they pay others to walk their dogs & drink $5 cups of coffee ordered in romance languages. Gone are affordable apartments near Boston and the burbs and seeking affordable alternatives are us expatriates. Here we fellow displaced economic refugees of the jaded american dream, coalesce in the Whaling City of Melville and Ricketson.

I have been dealing with the struggle of mortality among us as sober people as others pass away around me. My mom died sober with 3+ decades of recovery last Feb, her former BF and my "uncle" Donnie (no actual familial relation but a trusted uncle all the same) went this last January with equally as much time and here is my pal Tom gone as well with his 12+ years clean. Tom was like many of us here or there. He was strong, smart and flawed. He was a fighter in his youth. He once started a family and had kids, now grown. He had jobs that were challenging that gave way to the noble tactility of manual labor. He worked with his hands & was frugal, always fixing stuff like Macgyver. His prize possession was a 12 string Martin guitar and he would go play open mic but never sang. he would just play with his arthritic hands, dreaming of perfection that never came. As many New Englanders he tried to relocate to Florida where he lived in his van and rode a scooter everywhere. He once lived in a tent for like 5 years. He struggled as we all do through life, with the law, with his health and always while battling addiction. He eventually relocated here to New Bedford where we met a year or two before his death. We were friends.

All three people aged between 60 and 72 with about as much of continuous accumulated sobriety achieved collectively if you add up all of their continuous sober time. These people who were close to me of differing degrees & throughout different periods of my life were all once sober & are now all deceased. Ya see, death is inevitable. I know it & contemplate it daily but rarely ever appreciate the gravity of the topic. Who, really can process the brevity of life in a healthy manner without getting morbid. Is there a grieving for idiots book, I forgot to read. If all I have is today & all I am promised is another day of sobriety; why do we suffer in yearning for more. Knowing that nobody gets out alive should be the key to joy and happiness among us all. Why do we fight such frivolous battles, conduct interpersonal terrorism & hate each other? Why do we waste our precious time & energy destroying everything? Why do we isolate and seek differences instead of seeing our own common frailty in our mortality. Damn if I do not feel morbid if not also sad and fearful as well.

Recently I started reading A Year To Live by Stephen Levine & found it insightful and challenging at the same time. That which is truly important is usually very hard to do. Processing the deaths of loved ones & planning our own lives that lead to death is hard stuff. I know it is because I hear it. I listened on as others discussed their losses, ignorant and laboring to understand. Sometimes, labor is not the path while surrendering is. Perhaps the Universe, Higher Power, Creator, God etc prepares us to face our upcoming challenges in terms that are specific and personal to us all. My getting sober was monumental & my staying sober is dependent to my survival. How do I not get so cynical in the knowledge of our looming demise. I can'y even consider the bigger picture stuff like pending human extinction from Global Warming or Nuclear War. Selfishness and desperation keeps me grounded in today. I just wan't to live while being alive & fully present to that which I am capable. I set the bar really low. To stay away from one drink for one day. Most days sail on effortlessly without even a crease in my mainsail. Just forward movement as if guided by a supernatural force that knows the route and destination before I even depart. I can not live in tomorrow as it hasn't came yet. Yesterday is history & tomorrow exists as a mystery & all that jazz. Often I forget about the gift of the present. Today. To be hear and now with my sad feelings knowing that I no longer have to hide in the bottle or with drugs no matter how bad it gets. Some primal survival instinct always reemerges as I swim in the cesspool currents of my decaying mind. When I drift towards the vortex of problems instead of the solutions exit; I feel a gentle undertow pulling downward on my psyche. Its as if, my lessons on such grave subjects get remembered just as I start to drift into that dark abyss. I wan't the past to quickly evolve into wisdom but must first survive the day. I wan't to not feel. Then I recall it having been said that I must feel to heal. Which reminds me that feelings are not fact. Emotions are fluid & not always rooted in fact. This too shall pass and how will drinking over it, help anything. It will not bring back loved ones from the dead, cure a sick child, find ones way or repair anything that is broken.

The lessons learned in my recovery give me the buoyancy to tread rough water until the next calm. If there are peaks there must also be valleys. These highs & lows and being able to acknowledge when & where I am is another gift of sobriety. Such a long winded way for me to say that I am not doing well handling mortality. Its not the actual death that I am not comfortable with, its more the living unknown. The potential that it can & will be over for others as close to me. Someday I too will succumb, leaving my loved ones to struggle alone with any residual pains. My sobriety is sustained and sustainable providing I use the tools, keep those tools sharp and or upgrade the tools & techniques required for my ongoing recovery. This written exercise was such a tool that I have just employed. Another public shedding of the accumulated layers of my calloused protective skin. I call it literary therapy and use it when all else fails. I consume the problems at hand and digest out that which is important to my survival. I also chaired a meeting today & shared of the loss of our group member with others in our homegroup.

Here lies the online legacies of those mentioned above. Three sober people who were dedicated to there own individual recoveries, all active in the fellowship of AA. All three died far too soon and or alone for me. Here lies three obituaries online in perpetuity without a single acknowledgment of their greatest accomplishment. There sobriety.

I write this, choking back tears, knowing that the sum of all our trivial struggles & tribulations; won't even be recognized by those tasked to write our obituary. I can attest that these 3 souls were once truly lost in addiction. They were all saved from themselves in a shared fellowship and without imposing any theology or belief on any one of them. I know this was and is true: Sobahs Beddah! Upon our death we are finally and eternally recovered from our mortal addictions. Rest easy loved ones. I trust you will save me a seat where ever meetings are held in the afterlife. Oh, yeah. I hope they serve coffee too. If there isn't an afterlife; at least you all knew me to be "trudging that road to happy destiny" while we were still here together in our shared life.
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