Day 437 thoughts
I was listening to Dashboard Confessional’s, “Remember to Breathe” this morning. It reminds me of college, lost love, simplicity and driving down the high-way in my 1984 Honda Accord hatchback during the late 90’s. I suppose the car falls into the “lost love” category—it was an epic automobile that got me from point A to point B like no other car ever will. It was a mean machine with two 12 inch sub-woofers, a thousand watt amplifier, four cylinders and five gears of bad ass.
You never forget first loves, right?
I think when listening to “Remember to Breathe,” I focused on the title of the song rather than the romantic/poetic lyrics.
“Remember to breathe.” I tell myself that quite often these days. It has been about 437 days since I stopped drinking—and the alcohol was my way of “forgetting.” But, in reality, what I should’ve been doing is remembering to stop, breathe and figure out how to properly address my thoughts, concerns, worries and every other aspect of life that created anxiety.
I never meant for my addiction to become my only means of addressing problems—but before I knew it, my first reaction to a negative feeling was taking a drink to make it go away. I felt so overwhelmed by every-day life—that I just wanted to numb myself.
“Remember to breathe,” to me, is a simple way of taking a step back when life gets overwhelming. I take a step back, breathe and ask myself “I’m being presented with this challenge, booze won’t fix it, so how do I?”
For example, Lila’s mom has always been a stress trigger for me—and obviously drinking every-time I interact with her to alleviate the anxiety solved nothing. In fact, it was counterproductive. So, now, when we disagree over a topic, or a discussion gets unproductive–I realize that I can’t control how Lila’s mom speaks to me, and I can’t always control the outcome. Instead of firing back, building resentment and thinking negatively—I take a step back, breathe, readjust and approach the situation from a different angle. Instead of arguing, I simply ask: “how do we move forward in the best interest of our daughter?” The clarity during the last 437 or so days has empowered me to not think just from my selfish perspective, but to always focus on the bigger picture/main objective. Alcoholics can be selfish, egotistical and hard to deal with—and I was no different. It’s not about me all of time, and I needed to make myself aware of that fact.
Whether it’s a baby mama, tough day at work, family struggles, bouts of depression, etc., the “remember to breathe” philosophy works like a charm.
If I have a bad day or conversation, it doesn’t mean that everything is falling apart or my world is in complete chaos. It simply means that I have to “remember to breathe, remember everything will be ok and remember that life isn’t perfect.”
If you are a recovering alcoholic, and struggle, like all of us—do me a favor and look in the mirror and repeat: “Everything is going to be ok. I can fucking handle this situation.” Then remember to breathe.
Fourth of July:
I had another sober and kick-ass Fourth of July weekend with Lila and friends. We went up to Lake Shasta and partied our buns off. We swam in the lake, went fishing, BBQ’d and watched fire-works. I thought about drinking a couple of times, but it was a short-lived thought. As more time has passed, it’s easier for me to ignore thoughts of drinking. My internal thought process goes something like this:
“Leif, that beer looks so cold and refreshing.”
“No. Terrible idea. Move on.”
I used to struggle a little bit more internally with the thought of drinking, but not so much anymore.
On day 437 I am feeling refreshed. I had a long work week, but over-came a few obstacles by remembering to breathe and thinking rationally. I love my imperfect life—and continue to embrace the serenity prayer.
I am traveling back to Pennsylvania with Lila this weekend, and I’m looking forward to going home for the first time in two years. Last time I was fat, stressed out and drunk—and I’m now a healthy, less stressed and sober ass mother fucker.
Best wishes to you all!