A friend and I went to a concert in Millennium Park Friday, a must-do on the list of Chicago activities in the summer. You are allowed to bring food and drink into the pavilion for concerts and movies, and nearly every time I’ve gone I have had some type of alcoholic drink. Not this week. My friend and I munched on snacks and conversed more than we listened to the music.
On our way to the train, I ran into a former co-worker on the street and we talked for a few moments. She told me the office’s staff retreat is coming up soon and that I should stop by.
This morning, as I was thinking about my day and week, I had a brief remembrance of that interaction with my co-worker on the street, but the memory was fuzzy, as if it didn’t happened. Had it been a dream, I thought? Or, more likely, I was drunk and don’t really remember?
But, I wasn’t drunk.
There are chunks of alcohol-induced nights that I don’t remember. Sometimes it’s the car ride home, but most often it’s text messages I sent or food I snuck when no one was looking. Fortunately, I’ve never brought any real harm to myself or anyone else in these moments of black, but it’s unnerving to think there are snippets of my memory cut out.
One of the added benefits of sobriety, I assumed seven months ago, was that I would be able to see the previous night clearly. I would know what stupid thing I said or if I did eat that extra cookie or if I really ended up crying over that one thing. I’d have full control over my mind and know exactly what I did.
But, like a lot of my assumptions for sobriety, that didn’t really happen.
Like the memory of seeing my co-worker on the street, many times I have thought back to a night and tried to remember a conversation or an event and the details are hazy. It takes a few moments for me to realize I wasn’t drunk then, but rather my memory is a bit faulty.
This realization makes me a laugh a bit. I had often thought the reason I don’t have clear visions of the past was because I was too drunk, and while that probably doesn’t help, it’s a bit reassuring that they are also sober memories I can’t easily recall either. Maybe I wasn’t drinking has much as I had thought.
Last summer, I went back home to clean out my childhood room and was sorting through some pictures from high school. As I looked at myself posing with classmates outside of math class or at band camp (don’t start), I realized that maybe I wasn’t as friendless and fat as I seem to recall myself being in high school. Maybe more people liked me than I thought.
It’s funny how in hindsight we, or just me, tends to look only at the bad. I see myself far worse than I probably was, and the same goes for my drinking self. Sobriety has been a tremendous learning experience and there were parts of my relationship with alcohol that were likely unhealthy, but maybe I wasn’t as out of control as I thought I was. When I noticed that I don’t always remember my nights so clearly in sobriety, I start to understand how I used alcohol with less shame and guilt. I give myself more of a break and that fees like progress.