Today I am 500 days sober.
I don’t want a drink. In the past 500 days, I have almost never wanted a drink. The emotions and energy that fueled the desire to drink in the past are still there; now, I am actively aware of them and am engaged in the process of deconstructing them. Now that energy and those emotions are either quelled by “lesser” bad habits (like extreme procrastination or extreme zoning out), or I consciously engage them in productive activities ranging from meditative time to creative work to house chores.
It has been 216 days since my MFA program began, and I cannot imagine what this journey would be like if I was still a “functioning” alcoholic. Being in recovery is not only necessary for me in this process, it has added a layer of heightened self-awareness and gratitude that has proven invaluable. All that grad school demands—focus, determination, self-awareness, a willingness to grow and change, application of lessons, etc.—exists within the recovery process.
Recovery and grad school: each of these are stressful. There is the potential for the two processes to compete with one another—but so far, I have found that (for me) they complement one another in a symbiotic, healthy way. I know this wouldn’t be the case for everyone going through recovery, but I am so glad that this has been my reality so far.
There are a few other people in my program who are also in recovery, and I have found this to be incredibly positive. Simply knowing that others are in this process is tremendous; sharing with one another our individual journeys is inspiring and reassuring and encouraging. We are a built-in network for one another.
I know I’ve been fortunate; everyone’s recovery is different, and the process itself shifts throughout the weeks and years. It’s been “easy” in some ways, and I know it may not always be this way. For now, I’m just grateful for all that it has been, and all that it is.