“Older, Wiser, More Serene”
This isn't the first time I've experienced a period of being free from this addiction. Many years ago, when I had been addicted for only a year or so, I broke free for a while. And it made a noticeable difference.
“What's changed with you?” one of my friends asked one morning, apropos of nothing.
“What do you mean?”
“I dunno... you seem, older, wiser, more serene, somehow.” She said.
I don't really remember my response. Something along the lines of “I've been making some changes in my life” or some such noncommittal nonsense.
But obviously her words have stuck with me, down through all these years. Now that I'm more than a hundred days free, I ask myself, am I again “older, wiser, more serene”?
Do I feel:
- Older: Always. Day by day. More on this in a moment.
- Wiser: Not...terribly. I've been through all this before. It's entirely possible I've learned everything I can from the cycle of addiction and freedom and now it's time to leave that cycle behind and just stay free so I can learn new things.
- More serene: Actually yes. I no longer feel haunted by self-loathing. I no longer feel like every person I meet might be able to see my secret shame somehow. I'm able to own who I have been and who I'm trying to be. (Well, to a degree. I'm still not going to publish my name and addiction here. I may be learning serenity, but I'm not stupid.)
But back to “older”. What I've found this time around is that I'm feeling younger. I randomly sing songs around the house more freely. I laugh a lot more. Because my guard isn't always up, I can be more silly and excited and laugh more.
The Inevitable Cautionary Part
In a group meeting a person who had made it to 270+ days free had a relapse. It was a crushing blow for them and their loved ones, and we spent a lot of time helping them feel like they can still move forward. They were almost three times farther out than I am now, and a momentary break still led to a setback. I may be feeling younger and more serene, but that in no way means that I should let my guard down.