2014 in the Rearview

It's been a while since I've done one of these, but it's also been a while since I've posted anything at all on this blog. Seems like as good a reason as any to get my narcissism on!

This will be more of an admission than anything.

2014 is the first full calendar year since high school that I was sober for the entire thing, and that alone is responsible for everything else. That said, it's been a good year -- a very good one.

So yeah, I quit drinking, in 2013 actually. I quit because I had to, and that's all that really matters for our purposes right now. What happened next is what's so interesting; what happened is I began to live again. I actually did many of my sober 'firsts' in 2013, since my sobriety date is February 4, 2013: first office celebration at the bar; first business trip; first death in the family; first birthday (which is as close to a relapse as I ever got (so far (knock wood))); first wedding anniversary. You get the idea. What I found was that it's no big deal. I simply don't drink any more, and while there was a time when couldn't imagine doing any of those things without a drink in my hand, I discovered it's really no big deal -- as long as I'm honest with myself about my particular situation, which is that I'm an alcoholic. There are far worse diagnoses, quite frankly.

And so I moved on. And when 2014 rolled around, I was almost a year sober, and marveling at how I'd sailed through the '13 holidays without the depression, numbness, and insanity that used to ensue. I owe that to my own "program" of recovery and to a whole lot of friends and family -- both in the traditional sense, and, many, of the anonymous variety. You catch my drift.

So 2014 has largely been an exercise in continuing to do what works and continuing to look for what else doesn't work, figure out why, and act on it. That's a daily do, and it's a big part of what recovery is.

I also realized that I can learn a lot from our dog -- that things like living in the moment, not caring what you look like, and trusting and loving others are keys. Those, and that bacon is a life force.

Brenda & I went to Europe, touching four countries in just under two weeks, and I remember all of it, even without the pictures. But I got some nice pictures, too. Brenda's love for travel and for planning really came out in the months leading up to the trip, and she gets all the credit for making that trip as truly awesome as it was.

I discovered I still have a competitive spirit, and am an athlete at heart. I started doing CrossFit, and in that I found a new appreciation for the gift of this human body I was born with (and had been destroying for over 20 years). With CrossFit I am learning how to move, how to get stronger, how to get up early, and how to eat better; the importance of sleep, and the reduction of stress, toward general health. That you get what you give. And after all the exercise, the stretching, the dietary changes, and the sleeping, I feel better. I'm 15 pounds lighter, I can run a 5K in about 20 minutes (with no running outside of what I do at the gym), and I'm off antidepressants. What's that they say about diet and exercise? Well, what do you know.

And so 2014 was the first time (ever, I think) where I was active through all four seasons, both physically and mentally. When I got back on the bike in the spring, Strava kept telling me I was PR'ing along all my favorite routes. There was no winter fat to burn off, no cobwebs of any sort (because I'd been living, you see). And slowly but surely, by just showing up at the gym and working hard 3-5 times a week, I could do more. Now I can climb a rope, do pull-ups, run fast, jump high, and generally lift heavy shit and fling it around, quickly. I can row a 2,000m "piece" on the erg in a little over seven minutes, and this after straining my abdominal muscle the first time I ever took a pull on one. (I pulled hard, but then my feet slipped out of the straps and I went ass over elbow off the back of the goddamned thing -- another first, albeit a somewhat dubious one.) Surely all this moving around has exposed my slightly compromised quadricep tendon for what it is, which is simply the end result of bad mechanics and old age. There was a time when I'd throw my hands up and say "why bother", but today my attitude is that it's just something else to manage.

I served as a judge at a CrossFit competition in the spring for a "sober active community" called Phoenix Multisport. Watching these athletes perform -- knowing that many of them were recovering drunks and drug addicts, was inspiring to me.

Brenda & I jumped out of an airplane this summer. I believe we will do that again. I know we will do that again. Fuckin'-a. Part of me wants to go for the A license, but there other hobbies competing for my time and money too. It's a good problem to have.

Another first for 2014 was the discovery that I have been putting my recovery ahead of everything else, which is fine when you are starting out but at some point it's time to show your colleagues, your friends and mostly your wife that you are firing on all cylinders in all aspects of your life, and that you have debts to be repaid. The nice thing about recovery is that you unearth this shit, but you also get tools and perspective to deal with and address the aforementioned shit. Bonus.

In 2014 I got my motorcycle license, and finally got my long-unused pilot's license updated with my new address; harbingers of new transportation adventures to come in 2015, perhaps.

Our dear cat Ellie passed away this year. She was a real piece of work, and she is missed. I think another cat is in our future.

I spent a fair bit of time in reflection this year, alternately looking at the past day or the past lifetime, depending on the moment. It's helped explain a lot and it helps me to move on.

In many ways 2014 was just a grind, and I'm sitting here thinking about how to grind harder in 2015. I guess that's kinda the point.

In simple terms, I'm grateful for the opportunity to improve in 2015. Did I just say that?

Happy New Year.

  • RPG, 1-1-2015