Sober in the City: Bad Days Happen

Today was exhausting. I worked 8 hours on my feet at my retail job in SoHo. As much as I love people, it’s emotionally taxing to be “on” for 8 hours straight with a smile on my face. Towards the end of my shift, I was pretty grumpy. On my train ride home, my grumpiness continued when I realized the train had no seats left – like always. I had to stand for twenty more minutes, shoulder to shoulder with stinky strangers. I acknowledge that these are prime examples of first world problems. But as someone in recovery, the slightest thing can put me over the edge.

I stood there with my eyes closed, picturing myself taking a bath while drinking a glass of wine. This delusional thought was so relaxing, I may have even smiled. When the train slammed on its brakes to let me off at my stop, I was brought right back to reality: I. Can’t. Drink. Wine was never even my drink of choice, I was more of a Jack Daniels straight from the bottle kind of gal (#classy).

I’ve been sober for over a year, and I still struggle with the fact that I can never drink again. This very thought can be overwhelming at times. On the ten minute walk from the train to my apartment, I listened to a few tracks from Coldplay’s first album, Parachutes. The piano intro to “Trouble” was the soothing that I needed in that moment. It helped me calm down. It helped me accept the fact that taking a bath and enjoying a glass of wine are not viable options for me because my apartment doesn’t have a working bathtub and I have a terribly unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

As soon as I got home I made a warm cup of chamomile tea and put on some comfy clothes. I sipped my tea in the comfort of my bed while writing in my journal. In this moment I remembered how for years I chose to drink until I forgot what was stressing me out. Now in sobriety, I choose to pause and reflect on the madness of my day. I identify my stressors and how they made me feel.

After journaling, I meditated for twenty minutes. I lied there in my dark bedroom as I felt the day throb through me. My body ached. My mind was mush. I took a series of deep breaths, desperate to find relaxation. The sirens, honking, and yelling outside my window are customary now. My mind has accepted these background noises as non-negotiable. This is urban city life. It hurts. It’s loud. It’s triggering. It’s not for everyone. Sometimes I have to remind myself why it’s for me.

New York City life is tough. Sobriety is even tougher. Somehow the two work together for me.

As much as I wish I could have come home to a relaxing glass of wine, I’m happy that I chose to unwind in different way. I just wish my bathtub worked.

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