No More Distorted Mirrors

I woke up this morning at 5a.m.,

Glanced at the mirror and realized I finally know who I am,

Once, for me, the notion of self was forgotten,

Drank away the anguish,

In turn, it just made me feel more rotten,

Stress, pressure, bad decisions and choices,

Brought me to the brink, brought me to the drink—made me ignore caring voices,

People who knew I should reside in a better emotional place,

I pushed and pushed them away—until between us, there was too much space,

Left alone, unfortunately, that is where I needed to be,

To truly understand that what I saw in the mirror then…wasn’t me,

My little girl always saw in me what it was I couldn’t see,

I woke up this morning at 5a.m.,

Glanced at the mirror and grabbed paper and pen, so I never again forget who I am,

The tower of empty cans, bottles and handles came down crashing,

No more forgotten moments, lost loves, drunken regrets and wine bottle stashing,

No more self inflicted lashing,

Moving forward, I refuse to live with regret,

I will defuse my anxieties and make a commitment to never forget,

Never forget who I became, as opposed to who I am,

I will always remember this revelation on November 20, 2014, at 5a.m.

This morning was a bit cold and rainy in San Jose—which isn’t a common occurrence, so it was a nice change from the typical dry weather. It was still dark when I awoke—I glanced over at Lila and she was sleeping soundly—I decided it was important for her to rest more, as our weekdays are pretty long and tiring. She slept for about eleven hours straight—I wish I could do the same.

Lately I have found my new “self,” the one that I remember from before my drunken days, conflicting with my former “self.” The “self” that was drunk 90 percent of the time. It’s like my new perspective is scanning my mind and body to expel any remnants of who I became through constant drinking and barbarism. I was living like a troglodyte—eating, drinking and exuding the personality of a mere twit…nothing more, nothing less. I lived on instinct and impulse—selfish and afraid.

This past weekend I was out with my friend Jasmine—I call her “Jazz.” We met about 1.5 months ago and really hit it off. We drove up to San Francisco and spent a few hours in Golden Gate Park—then met up with friends who live in “the city” (what us San Jose folk call SF despite our city being more populated) for drinks and dinner. Of course my drink of choice was water. One of the friends that we met up with happened to be my best friend—the one that “misses his drinking buddy, but understands my path.” Jazz asked me if I wanted a sip of her drink, and I declined, she inquired as to why I declined. Usually sharing a drink is considered a bonding moment for potential couples. I looked over at my friend—and he looked down at the table—only he and I knew it was an awkward question. My reply was “just because.” What I wanted to tell her was “my name is Leif and I’m an alcoholic. One sip, even one drop would turn into a pool of drunkenness and spark an episode where you would never want to see me again. It would change me into someone you and I would despise.”

You see, Jazz likes me for the same reasons Katie did when we first met. I am actually a fairly nice guy when clear and sober—I truly care about the feelings of others, and in general, want everyone around me to be joyful and laugh. If Jazz saw the old me, like Katie, she would make the decision that she is better off on her own—or with someone who isn’t selfish. I don’t want to fuck it up again with a really nice girl—that would be considered insanity, right? Repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. Nobody liked the drunk Leif…well, nobody except those who enjoy watching a train wreck.

Jazz and I were laying down later that evening after we returned from San Francisco. I decided I had to tell her why I don’t drink—I had to be honest. You see, when you get sober—honesty just happens—you yearn for the day when you have nothing to hide from those you care about. Any with-holding of the truth festers in your thoughts until it’s almost physically painful to contain.

“Jazz, I don’t drink because I’m an alcoholic. I have only been sober for 7.5 months—and my alcoholism has destroyed past relationships. If you ever see me drink—leave, and realize you deserve better.”

It was simple as that—and it felt so good to be open and honest. Not just good to me—but Jazz appreciated my openness, and after I apologized for not telling her sooner…she simply said: “it’s the right time for you to tell me because you felt comfortable—and it probably wouldn’t have been good to tell me on our first, second or third date. This doesn’t change at all how I feel about you.”

Once us alcoholics realize we have caused enough destruction in the lives of those we love—we just become unwilling to do so anymore. I could’ve been my alcoholic self and kept my secret inside—just in case one day I did want to drink around Jazz—but I didn’t. With-holding information or lying for my personal gain isn’t who I am anymore. If you think you’re an alcoholic, there are obviously enough red flags to draw the conclusion that you are. And if you are—think long and hard about the people in your life that you would never want to lose. If you keep drinking, one day they will leave…believe that.

Today, on the brink of 8 months sober—I looked at myself in the mirror, and made another commitment…a commitment to be the best me possible—and put my family, friends and my health ahead of anything else. I saw the real me again this morning—and I am so grateful for everything in my life.

Bless you all.

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