Whistler’s Senior Paper

I love hearing that sober people are still sober. Does that make sense? I mean when I read or hear celebrities and everyday people say something that lets me know they’re still sober. They’re background affirmations, proof that sober life works for those who, well, work it.

You may recognize Whistler from guest posts here or from comments on other sober blogs. He’s a rare breed who never set foot in a recovery meeting and never waivered in his commitment to stay sober and get the most out of his new life. He celebrates three years sober this month and wrote the following to share…please join me in congratulating Whistler on his three years.

I was given this assignment over a week ago. My teacher is very strict by the way, and I am feeling the pressure. I would advise anyone who wants to recall early sobriety details to keep some sort of diary or you can just take a chance, be like me, and remember next to nothing. I have always hoped for a brain like Hans Delbrück but I am very much closer to Holden Caulfield. So I will write this crumby paper but it won’t be like old Hans could have served up.

First off I should let you know that some things change after three years, some things don’t. Your body continues to change. It’s basically an uncontrollable Christmas present like the first two years so things like vision and skin continue to improve and you are able to do a little basic math in your head again.

But be warned some of the weight you lost in year one and kept mostly off in the second year may return (don’t worry the fat has morphed into something different than the booze fat and you just know it’s the kind of fat you could lose in minutes if you really wanted to). The thing that does not change – the thing that remains the gold standard of not changing – is that everybody on the roadway except you still cannot drive worth spit.

My assignment is supposed to be about what this third year of not drinking has been like. Maybe I can compare the last three years to high school.

Freshman year is just a complete swirl of confusion and second guessing about self and life in general. But it’s OK, everyone is still in braces at that point so we just keep our head down, do our homework, and don’t hang out with upper classmen.

Sophomore year. What can I tell you. Totally forgettable. But… one of the most informative years and you do some of your best work in year two. You learn lots about yourself and begin to get an idea of where you’d like to go when you graduate. You show signs of maturing.

And then comes the Junior year. My favorite.

The most serious year so far, you know enough to understand what it takes and you apply what you’ve learned. You become comfortable with yourself enough to begin to want to be a part of things. Rip Van Winkle stretching himself awake. A terrific year really. It serves as the foundation for what’s to come.

And what’s still to come is that Senior year, when catching Senioritis and thinking you’ve become bullet proof can get you kicked out of school. Got to be careful, there will be moments. I will need to plan ahead, avoid traps. I am not going to worry it to death but I’m not going to take it for granted either. Other than that if it is anything like the last three years, it promises to be a slow steady gift box of surprises and revelations.

I guess everyone says this. I did not expect it to be like this. I just knew I had to stop. I had no idea what I was missing. No idea.

6 thoughts on “Whistler’s Senior Paper

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  1. Just graduated senior year here. What can I say, kind of coasted through and now waiting for college when my “adult” life starts. At some point I think we leave recovery and kind of meld into life and that can be dangerous if we let life become mundane, we know too well an easy fix for the mundane. So here’s to keeping it green. Every day.

    Congratulations on three years, Whistler.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. this was great, and very true.

    I’m in college now, reality hitting….what do i do now?
    but anything is possible..stretching before me is a life i didn’t know i’d have.
    scary and exciting and possible.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Closing out my 4th year in two days. It’s weird because whenever I try to put it into words, everything sort of evaporates. I can’t tell people what 4 years is like, because….dare I say it?…it’s like being sober is a normal part of life. Except when it isn’t. But mostly it is.

    I think I spent a lot of early-early sobriety wondering what I was going to turn out like. I guess now I have an idea. I kind of know what my weaknesses are. Some things that I thought were “me” a few years ago, it turns out aren’t me at all, but were a result of brain-margination. Some things that I thought I’d grow out of or lose when I became sober have kind of stuck around. I wouldn’t have begun to predict which would be which. If this is a Christmas gift, it’s the kind that you keep opening and discovering every day of the year.

    I also haven’t done the group thing. I am of the opinion that you do whatever works for you, and keep doing it. Keep learning and don’t be afraid to change, but also don’t be afraid to stubbornly hold on to yourself, either. Good luck to everyone else trying to figure this out.


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