Monday, October 19, 2015

Two Years Sober

Today marks two years since I've had a sip of alcohol.

It's bittersweet.

Somewhere in my college town on Saturday evening, just as a brilliant pink dusk was setting over an Ann Arbor that was painted with the brick reds, the pumpkin oranges, and the rust browns of Autumn, I stormed out of my childhood friend Eric's apartment and into the stairwell. Visions of football players in Michigan State uniforms taking a botched punt into the Michigan student section endzone dancing in my head, I tried to understand what had just happened. It was over. Our long-anticipated victory over our instate rivals -- the victory that was supposed to end eight years of humiliation at the hands of the team we had so arrogantly labeled "little brother" -- had vanished quite literally into thin air only moments ago. It wasn't long after I sat down on the stairs that I broke down into tears.

There's not a State fan alive that can say they deserved that game more than I did after the last three or four years. It took me more than a year of trying to put down the bottle -- often managing to stay sober for three or four weeks at a time before I would wind up face down at the tail end of another bender, going through withdrawals with my tail between my legs, a process which repeated itself until it became a vicious cycle -- before I started to accumulate any serious sobriety time. Even after I went to outpatient rehab in the Spring of 2013 I relapsed after ninety days sober for a stretch that lasted well into the '13 Michigan football season. All the while during those dark years I had to watch my Michigan football team flounder in their own identity crisis when I needed them most. I could only jealously watch my Sparty friends bask in unprecedented success for their football program, taking little satisfaction in the knowledge that I was earning my badge of loyalty.

This season felt like my year. Bo's prodigal son had returned to Schembechler Hall in the form of one Jim Harbaugh, and the date of the Michigan State game happened to fall two days shy of my two year sober date. This was the first Fall that I felt comfortable enough with my sobriety that I returned to tailgating, and seeing my college buddies throwing back beers at Maryland and in Ann Arbor on Saturday, and them being okay with me not drinking, it all felt pretty damn good. I've been through a lot with those guys, in and out of Michigan Stadium, and it felt like we had earned one.

Watching all that get ripped from my hands as Michigan State took a fumbled punt to the house while the game clock expired didn't only feel like an injustice, it felt like a big fuck you from life.

And you know what, fuck you too life. Two or three years ago, back when I was drinking, I would have wallowed in liquor and my own self-loathing after one of these types of losses, but that's not who I am anymore; that person is dead. "We have to have resolve, put steel in our spine and move forward," Harbaugh said Saturday night after the loss. I don't need luck. And I don't need any of life's help. You move forward and you embrace the pain, because it makes you stronger.

Minnesota in two weeks. Fuck em. And fuck you too, life, because I'm only going to work harder.

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