The last few weeks have really tested my commitment to sobriety. I’ve come really close on several occasions to throwing it all away. Walking home from my therapist’s house is the most dangerous time for me. I know how soothing hard liquor feels when you’re emotionally drained. I’m drawn to the warmth of it, nothing else feels quite the same.
What I’ve just noticed though is a significant difference. I’ve stopped counting the days. I’m not even clocking weeks anymore. I know I’ve been sober for a while now, but I was amazed when I just counted back through my calendar to work out how long. Eighty days. That’s the longest since I was in the psychiatric hospital. And not drinking didn’t take much willpower back then when I was under lock and key.
The last time I had a drink was back in November. I had more than a drink; it was a half litre of vodka. And I used it to swallow about sixty pills. It was a serious suicide attempt. I didn’t expect or want to survive it. I woke up in hospital wired up to all kinds of machines. The time in between is a total blackout.
I’d like to say I’ve come a long way since then. I’d like to be able to declare proudly that I’m not suicidal anymore. That there isn’t a part of me that sometimes wishes my wife hadn’t come home and called the paramedics that day.
Saying any of the above would be deceptive. And you know I always aim to be truthful here. It’s pretty much the only place I can be. I still feel like a ticking time bomb. Life still feels meaningless, and the more I try and explore in therapy, the less everything makes sense.
I’ve said to J a few times in therapy that I feel like I’ve flicked a switch in my brain somehow. I don’t believe that by instinct humans become suicidal. We’re programmed to survive, right in the reptilian core of our brains. I can’t help but think that once that instinct has been overridden, i.e. you decide to kill yourself, you can’t go back. Suicide will always be on the table, a viable escape route.
Perhaps I’ll be able to train my brain back into self-preservation, but I can’t see it happening anytime soon. I don’t want that level of commitment. I want to know I can make a quick exit if I need to. That enables me to continue viewing life as a short-term project. It makes it feel tolerable. It’s a macabre comfort, but a comfort nonetheless.