You know how, when you’re on a really dumb first date with a guy you accidentally swiped right to on Raya and the conversation is moving at a glacial pace until the dude who put “hedge fund” as his job description (red flag #1) decides to ask you a really original, thought provoking, move-over-James-Lipton, type of question. So, as he sips his second black label on the rocks, and you chug your club soda, wishing the bartender had accidentally slipped you an ounce or two of vodka, he leans in, does the Hot Priest Smirk (but it’s not nearly as hot), and says, “If you could have one superpower, what would it be?” And then you answer as quickly as possible, “Flying”, hoping to God the check comes and puts you out of your misery.
No? Just me? Cool, cool, cool, cool… I digress.
My point is, it’s day 22 and I’ve discovered that I actually have not one, but two superpowers.
Superpower #1 comes with a Superhero alter-ego, named (by my roommate), Chloe. It’s recently been discovered that I am incredibly good at flirty texting dudes. How I’m still single, well, that’s a question for the ages, but I’ve become a go-to for my lady friends when they’re texting someone they like. A fact I am most proud of and in true LA-fashion, am also looking to monetize. Kidding. Sort of.
Superpower #2. I was getting a London Fog over the weekend with one of my closest friends/great loves of my life. We hadn’t seen each other since my dry year began, so naturally, one of the first topics of conversation was just that. I proudly told him I was on day 19 and then he asked, “How do you do that?”
It’s a question I’ve been getting a lot lately. I guess people asked me the same thing in 2015, but I didn’t have a clear answer and usually just shrugged my shoulders and chalked it up to some kind of divine intervention or something.
I’ve always known “why” I wanted to do a dry year, both this time and the last time, but “how” seems to have a more complicated answer.
I think that for starters, I’m just really stubborn. If I say I’m going to do something, I follow through, no matter what. If my life were a Shakespearean drama, this would probably be my character’s tragic flaw. I remember the first time I declared a dry year, a lot of people thought or said behind my back, “I give her two weeks before she cracks”, and though I never heard those comments with my own ears, I knew they were out there and the idea of proving some of my nearest and dearest wrong motivated me.
I’ve also described it as a switch in my brain that I can turn on and off. Like, if I decide not to drink for a year, I turn the sober-switch on and the desire to put anything other than water, green juice, and caffeine in my body has completely vanished. But, that’s not always true, in the past, this switch has been known to blow a fuse or be out-of-order, (see: Dry Year Attempt of 2018), so that visual doesn’t make for a very good “how”.
I think the best way to explain how I’m doing this, again, is to say, I’m consciously choosing to face my fears. Fears. Plural. There’s a lot of them. A lot.
The biggest of the bunch is the fear of failure. As I hinted at earlier, this isn’t my second attempt at a dry year, it’s actually my fourth. As hard as my first dry year was, I loved it so much, and I’ve spent most of the time since that year, trying to find my way back to the person and the life I had created for myself then. I knew that cutting out the not-so-healthy distractions would help me rediscover what I learned in 2015, but for some reason, it’s been almost impossible for me to follow through on another dry, distraction-free, period of time. I’ve tried a half-year, a month, another year, and shortly after each attempt was made, I managed to reason myself back into my old habits. Failing all of those attempts, fed my dormant insecurities and feelings of not-enoughness until they were no longer dormant. They were wide awake and I was headed down a slow and steady spiral of self destruction, until I hit rock bottom.
I should clarify now that my “rock bottom” wasn’t drinking every day or even that excessively, though I did get pretty good at justifying a mid-week hangover. It wasn’t what I’d call “movie rock bottom” where the girl sits alone in her apartment drinking wine from the Franzia bag, blasting Taylor Swift, and crying to her dog because a boy didn’t call her back or the job she thought she booked or meeting she thought she had fell through (I swear that didn’t happen).
My rock bottom was a constant awareness that I needed help, but didn’t want to ask for it. I fell out of love with myself and I knew it and I had zero desire to do anything about it. There was a lot of isolation, depression, pretending I was fine. A lot of lying, to myself and everyone else around me. I never want to go back to that, and the fear that if I don’t follow through this year, that’s where I might be again… I guess that’s been my “how” so far.
The next thing I was going to write was, “overcoming fear is my superpower”, but I realized just now, that’s not what I’m doing. I’m not overcoming my fears, I’m using them to my advantage. I think that’s my superpower and I think it might be yours too. I think we’re all capable of taking what scares us the most and using it to be better. Maybe fear isn’t meant to be overcome or defeated, maybe we shouldn’t put that pressure on ourselves, to tackle such a beast.
Maybe fear is meant to be lived in and recognized and used in a way that motivates and pushes us to something great, to our full Superhero potential.
I like the sound of that. I’m going to go put on my cape now, maybe sip a green juice, cancel my Raya, see if Chloe can be of service, and figure out what other fears of mine can help get me back to better.