Well, I turned thirty-one years old today.
As a person that doesn't really care that much about New Years, I feel my birthday is a better day to reflect upon the events of the last year. And what a good year it was.
I can safely say that this was the year I truly settled in to my sobriety. I was no longer figuring out how to think and do things without alcohol, and I simply existed as who I am. Not to say that there weren't any mistakes made or lessons learned along the way, but I just became completely comfortable with who I am this year.
And maybe that has something to do with entering my thirties, which I've told people all year, feels like the decade where you truly are an adult. It's all relative of course, and also has to do with so many other things (namely, getting my shit together). But I've stopped caring so much about what others think about my little quirks, and embraced them and made them into something that people proudly recognize.
For instance, I was always embarrassed as a child about my love of Star Trek, because I was teased relentlessly. Yeah, I was that nerdy kid in school, much like I'm that nerdy adult now. But for YEARS I tried to hide it from everyone, my obsessions with bits of nerd culture. And it wasn't until I made the decision to travel to Las Vegas this year to attend the Official Star Trek Convention (a journey to Mecca for a Trek fan) that I "came out" as a fan to EVERYONE. This wasn't a little, "Oh, Donny likes Star Trek" anymore. This was, "Oh, Donny LOVES Star Trek. A lot. Like, it's a major part of his life" kinda deal.
And, much to my disbelief, instead of being teased, it became a side of me that is celebrated warmly by Trek fans and non-fans alike. I'm that guy. I'm the sober Star Trek guy that manages a bar as a job, builds video game environments in his free time, and succeeds in being occasionally humorous only by being really bad at being humorous. And owning those parts of my personality instead of hiding behind behind it all with alcohol has made me a much happier person.
But when I look at what I've moved on from is where I truly get a picture of how far I grown. Two and a half years ago, I was a severely unhealthy, depressed and self-destructive mess. I still have to remind people that there is simply no chance I'll ever drink again, and it's such an easy thing for me to say and commit to because the rewards of moving on from that period of my life are fucking immense. It would be suicide to return to what was the root of many of my problems, and would be a denial and betrayal of all that is now good in my life:
The friendships that have grown and the bonds that have formed now that I'm not stuck in my narcissistic ego-cycle that was fueled by drunkenness.
The peace of mind that I have knowing that I am in sole control of my actions and words, and knowing when I wake up in the morning that I can remember absolutely everything I said and did the night before, and knowing that those things were genuine.
The mental energy I now have to expend on thinking critically about my problems and situations and coming up with solutions to said problems.
And acting on these situations with a firm confidence that my judgement is sound and unclouded.
The physical energy I now have to go out and exercise instead of laying in bed recovering from the previous night's mishaps.
And waking up, being able to breathe, my lungs and heart not hindered by clouds of cigarette smoke or freakishly haunting anxieties pounding down upon my chest.
And the financial stability I have achieved and maintained. And the piece-of-shit car I finally got rid of, without looking back, and the new car I have settled into and fell in love with.
And the realization that this is a not a life to throw away, but one to be in love with and cherish every moment and take the chances, no matter how scary they may be, because this is the one and only life you get, and it's up to you to make the best of it.
Why the fuck would I ever go back?
It was a damn good year. And this new one is starting off great, thanks to a great new friend that has entered my life, like a god-damned comet out of the sky. Bold, bright, exhilarating, and beautiful.