The Struggle is Real

By chadwick easterling 04/03/18
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Somewhere over the past ten years that saying “the struggle is real” became popular in society and pop culture. I don’t know how or where it originated, nor do I care. Like anything trendy, I made it a point to steer clear of using the phrase or hanging around with anyone who did. For me it was kinda the same thing for people who wore a fedora or used the word chillax. No thank you, that’s not for me. Just the other day I heard the struggle is real being thrown around casually in a conversation, referring to something as trite as not eating all the fries in the basket or trying to find time to go to the gym. I remember rolling my eyes thinking how ridiculous it sounded but underneath I was seething and wanted to stroll over and punch the guy in the face. Why? Because I was having a shitty week, was feeling alone and depressed, and had no plans for the weekend. I wanted to cry in my beer followed by drinking as many beers as it took to make those feelings go away. But guess what? I can’t. Because I’m an alcoholic and the fucking struggle is real.

I’m 6 ½ months sober and everything has been clicking along nicely. I went to treatment late last summer and since then I’ve been stone cold sober. I’m not active in AA or any other recovery group. I’m flying solo I guess. I’m more of the spiritual healing and cleansing of the body, mind, and spirit these days. I’m cautious about what I do, where I go, and who I associate with. I don’t put myself in precarious situations. It’s all very new to me and I’m still learning to navigate those social situations and the conversations with friends and strangers. But each day has gotten a little easier along the way. I don’t think about drinking, I don’t foam at the mouth when I see a beer commercial on TV, I don’t crash my car when I see a flash of neon on the horizon. I live one day at a time and constantly remind myself of the hell that once was my life.

But then last week rolled around. Suddenly I found myself as raw and vulnerable as ever before. Several of my triggers fell into place like dominoes and the happy-go-lucky sober me was minute by minute turning into the raging alcoholic beneath the surface. I was thinking of having that first drink and wreaking havoc for the next few days, like an elephant escaped from the zoo. I could taste it. There was nothing stopping me from doing it except my conscious. Long story short, I didn’t do it. I didn’t drink. I’m not proud or happy about passing the test. I’m still a little pissed off to be quite honest. Not at me for being tempted, but for the asshole stars that aligned that almost set off another binge and destroyed my 6 months of sobriety. I don’t have all the answers and I know there are a lot of people who will say I shoulda done this or I shoulda done that or phoned a friend or that’s what a sponsor is for or why didn’t I go to a meeting, blah blah blah. Yeah and they’re probably all right I suppose.

What’s my point? I’m not exactly sure. I don’t write this to elicit praise or empathy or advice even. I wanted to write this because the struggle is real. I was on cruise control with my sobriety and almost found myself crashing through the barricade and careening off the side of the mountain and bursting into flames once again. I write this as a reminder to myself and others to be vigilant. It’s gonna happen to me and you both again and again. So be ready.

Oh and one more thing, please stop saying the struggle is real when it comes to trivial stuff like when they ask you if you want a shot of espresso in your coffee at the drive-thru or if you contemplate ordering 3 more tacos on Taco Tuesdays. Trust me, you don’t know what struggle is.

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