TRAINING WHEELS AND SKINNED KNEES
Daniel Tinson

Deciding to dust off Sober Not Sober and breathe life back into this old dog has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
Not because I must be truthful and accountable with myself by allowing others inside my Fortress of Solitude, but because I must do it again while stretching for a better outcome.

It is so difficult, familiar and grinding every repeated attempt we make to get sober over and over again. Do not underestimate how hard it is to fail at something over and over that you wish so hard to succeed at, especially when it comes so easy to everyone else.
Consider it like learning to ride a push bike. Most adults have been doing this since they were 10 years old. A year or two of falling off the bike, a couple of skinned knees, a little persistence and you’ve got it.
Many of us alcoholics have been falling off the metaphorical push bike for decades. When you’re 37 and cannot ride a bike there is somewhere you have to go to hide your ego, arrogance and pride to allow yourself to get back up again and try once more after decades of skimming your palms, knees and elbows.
This is a place that you wish not to share with others, especially those that do not understand. Because as absurd as you think it may be that a 37 year old cannot ride a push bike, I find it more absurd I cannot travel further than 10 metres without falling off.

In March this year I broke an almost 4.5 year stretch of sobriety. I thought that I had cracked my own code and learnt how to survive sober. No training wheels for me, I was a big boy.
I was healthy, I was for the most part happy, I did not have much going on in regards to negative flow in my life.
What I did have in the negativity department though run deep, deeper than I had anticipated or ever needed to prepare for in the past. Quickly I learned that just because you have taken off the training wheels and rode to Grandma’s house once, it doesn’t mean you’re ready to ride your push bike through peak hour traffic.

"I GOT SLOPPY AND GAVE IN TO THE BEAST"

So where does Sober Not Sober fit within this myriad of rant and emotive childhood metaphors? And why is it the hardest thing I have ever done?
About a year ago, after a year or so of planning prior to that, I aimed to launch Sober Not Sober. This was going to be my way of giving back and helping everyone that needed someone else to understand that what we all go through is individual, that what you feel is not what I feel. I was trying to be a beacon, a shining light of “look man, I got out… and you can too”.
But it all went to shit. I got sloppy and gave in to the beast that’s been knocking on the door in the back of my brain for over 4 years. Alcohol was back.

I found myself with a Sobriety Podcast, an actively alcoholic self, no years on the clock anymore and the ever increasing engulfing darkness that woke my innate sensibilities to lock myself away. 
How could I teach others, if I myself had failed so recently? I thought I was in a place (at 37 freakin’ years old) where I once again did not know who I was, where I was going or who could help me. I didn’t know where that left me nor did I know where that left Sober Not Sober. To add to the fun, around the corner was Covid19. Soon I would be working from home 3 days a week, leaving 4 days (most weeks) to keep drinking and an excuse not to venture past the front door. My drinking (as if I believed it was the alcohols choice) showed no signs of letting up.

There was a point, somewhere here that both my subconscious and conscious decided that it was all over. I had accepted I may never be 100% sober again and started to look at ways to minimise the damage. “Maybe I’ll just drink at social occasions”, “maybe I can handle only a few drinks with dinner”.  I had decided not to proceed with Sober Not Sober, for obvious reasons there was no point.

"THAT WAS THE LOWEST I HAD BEEN"

I think (though I can’t be sure) that it was this feeling of giving in and letting life (or lack thereof) happen around me that somehow gave me no more room to sink any deeper. I had hit the metaphorical rock bottom.
It was a comfortable rock bottom though. One that was the lowest I had been in almost 5 years, but by the same account when you compare it to rock bottoms experienced over the last 20 years, not nearly as low. For some stupid reason, this gave me hope. This perspective somehow re-ignited my love and positivity deep down. I had fallen off my bike, skinned my knees but was laughing in delirium, because all of a sudden I realised. I had only broken my pride. I could stand up and walk if I wanted to, and if I could still walk I could still ride.

And that’s why this is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
My pride and ego have had to take the fall.  Sober Not Sober is no longer starting from the same place I had envisioned it would.
I have had to reassess what Sober Not Sober is and how I can build it back to being what I have always intended it to be. But I know I can do it. I know we can all do it together.

So here I go screwing the old training wheels of sobriety back on again. Tightening my helmet, strapping on the elbow pads and ensuring my knee pads are tight.
In the last 5 months I have pushed myself back down the hill 3 more times with whole hearted efforts to get sober, each has failed (longest run being just over 1.5 months).
I’m going to keep trying though, because come hell or high water I’m gonna learn to ride this mother fucker before I reach 40.

Take care, love yourself and plan today for tomorrows success.

Daniel Tinson is the host of the Sober Not Sober Podcast and co-presenter of the Geek Out of Water Podcast
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