Tracking my sober days has more or less lost significance. I don’t think about drinking much anymore. The feeling still simmers underneath my skin occasionally; an itch in my nerves whispering to me that I should deaden my senses for an evening. In the past my cravings were loud like the scream of a jet engine. It was impossible to escape them… I had tried everything. Picture, if possible, someone yelling in your face but instead of words it was a feeling. Loud, painful, and terrifying. I woke up every day of the week afraid but at the same time absolutely certain of what I’d do come the afternoon. Nietzsche wrote in Beyond Good and Evil that the only people who come close to being honest are cynics; there is definitely a cynic sitting cross-legged deep in my mind waiting for an opportunity to interject. Perhaps beneficially, my inner cynic has enabled me to be honest with myself in most things. I knew what I was doing to myself with my drinking from day one just as I knew I wasn’t doing everything within my means to get sober. Underneath all of the lies and posturing we wear in layers (to both protect ourselves from others and to impress them) my true self wasn’t willing to do the work it would take to be sober. Doing that would mean some of those layers of bullshit would have to come off. Not all of it; we are never truly honest with others. It’s not possible! The language to truly express our feelings and opinions to others doesn’t exist. In most cases we likely can’t even tell ourselves what we truly believe and feel. If the reader will allow me to brag, I believe my success in recovery is because I am able to be more honest with myself than most people are. Without wasting too much time on details I think that my self-awareness is due in large part to my low self-esteem as a teenager and young adult. Certainly I would go too far in judging myself but there is surely value in knowing your shortcomings.
Our compulsion toward lying flows like an oil spill into every facet of life: slowly but persistently. We may be wont to speculate, as we tend to, that this is a modern curse. “People these days are lazy and stupid!” the inebriates often say, humorously not realizing the degree to which they are projecting. If one reads the great writers of antiquity, though, they can see quite readily that lying (or at best artificially inflating one’s achievements) is a core mechanism of the human condition. This is why there is so much emphasis on honesty in every program of recovery you will encounter. How can you possibly get clean if you don’t know yourself?! How can you give up your vices if you compulsively lie to everybody who tries to help you?! Yet the vast majority of addicts will continue to operate on this self-annihilating program.
When I referenced Nietzsche’s opinion on honesty above, I wanted to illustrate how frustrating it can be to try and live an honest life. It truly is impossible! At best we must endeavor to be mindful of our lies and ensure that they do no harm. How, though, can we be honest people when most of us lack the self-awareness and vocabulary to enunciate our feelings? Every time you ask someone how they are feeling, they have no choice but to lie to you. If you think about it this way, it’s a pretty cruel question to ask somebody! If a man were to ruminate on every conversation offered to him, he would spend his life in silence. Even then he would still have to sort through the lies he is telling himself internally.
Overall a bit pointless if you ask me.