My Life Without Vices Can Be Too Real

I worry that I will never experience the kind of elation I experienced when I used to drink excessively, constantly between parties, healing hangovers by erasing them with another night out. I can still remember the feeling of the third whiskey/ginger warming up the bones in my body, turning my mind into an incandescent pool, all smiles and hope and radiance and charm.

I remember that moment of possibility, the heightened sense that something and anything and everything could happen and should happen and will happen. I remember catching eyes with people across bars and inviting them over to my side and placing my lips on their lips without even first placing their names on my tongue.

I don't think I ever hungered for sex as much as I hungered for midnight lust and the building anticipation of two people who are starved for each other, if only in that moment. Those walls which prohibited such starvation in my sober minutes would come tumbling down on that third whiskey/ginger. I would be all eyes and lust and hunger and wanting. I was the kind of person who'd do anything for the story. Most times I couldn't decipher my true emotional attachments from my intense desire for intrigue. Did I truly care for this person or did I simply enjoy the emotional acrobatics necessary for such a crush to endure?

It was never clear.

I was never clear.

I suspect that most young people who used their 20s as an opportunity to party and defer Real Life come to a strange moment in their lives when they decide that season is over. I suspect it's as jarring as my experience has been -- to be faced with the monotony of life beyond the rage, the live-out-loud, the 2 a.m. stumbles to a 24-hour diner. That life suddenly becomes a droll worry about which bills need to be paid at which time and whether or not a job will provide health insurance is all just a massive party fail.

A real fucking buzzkill.

Real Life, don't kill my vibe.

It's hard to admit that I miss the fuck-it-ness of my youth. I was a person who needed to cure her restlessness as if it were a disease. Now, I sit with myself, to the point of needing meditation in order to find some sense of peace. I don't allow myself to medicate with the bottle or distract from my life by attaching too heavily to sexual desire and promiscuity. I have to feel it all now -- all the shit and goodness of my life -- equally. To not give myself the opportunity to anesthetize the process of growing up has been both the greatest and worst gift.

Yet, now it is sometimes unbearable how much I must feel. How many emotions I numbed out that now have nowhere else to go except outward, taking me as their victim. That I have voluntarily lost my coping mechanisms is oftentimes brutal. Necessary, but brutal. I miss oblivion. I miss my recklessness. I miss Band-Aid fixes and instant gratification and nights that could make me believe I was already scraped clean: healed and empty, ready to be filled with light. The thing about vices is that I know they're bad, but I also know they are so, so, so good.

God damnit, I miss my fucking vices.

I do aspire to be a better person. That's what I want, to be healed and whole and compassionate and loved and loving. I was a selfish tornado of a person when I was heavily drinking from the well of my vices. I did not deserve to have much -- that version of me who chased the thrill instead of the substance of any situation.

The point of abandoning my vices is to finally stop abandoning myself.

To face myself.

To see myself.

To understand who I am and how I am in this world in the stark (and harsh) daylight.

I've been learning how to live with my real self. To hear my thoughts out loud without the dampening and blurriness alcohol provides. I'm learning that life eventually catches up with you, no matter how many whiskeys you drink thinking you're escaping your reckoning. The day comes. The blinding light of day blares onto your skin and shows you who you really are. And, when you have nowhere else to turn -- no more addictions or vices to anesthetize the call of Truth -- the work has begun.

The real work.

The kind of work that requires you put your galoshes on and sludge through your past, wading knee-deep in the bullshit you've been carrying around with you for too long. That's when you begin to realize that whatever drives you to oblivion is what you must face. You realize you must examine all the parts of you which hold the tension you refuse to release.

Because, the Band-Aids always peel off. The instant gratifications are gone in a blink. The recklessness is consequential. The oblivion is a lie. And the only thing those vices are doing are building up your wounds like plaque, caking onto your heart until you take a chisel to it all. The vices never erase the past, the pain, or the pain of the past. They only create a larger chasm you must continue to fill.

Seeing yourself in the harsh blare of an afternoon light is not going to be easy. It's not meant to be. But, I think it's the only way to know yourself, to really have a relationship with who you (truly) are. The process may leave you raw and it will likely remind you of all the reasons you initially ran to pray at the altar of distraction.

There will be a stretch of time where you are not quite who you used to be and not quite who you're about to be and that will be dark and weird and sad and scary. You'll be angry and you'll let yourself feel it this time. You'll run your past like a movie inside your mind and your soul will ache for the vulnerable child who didn't know better and the self-actualizing adult who doesn't know how to get from here to there quite yet.

I'm in that darkness now. I'm not who I used to be, but I'm not who I'm going to be yet. I'm in that purgatory. I'm beyond the vices, but not beyond the feeling that I need them or want them or think my life better with them. I haven't quite hit the peace part. But, I think it's coming. I've done the work. I've hit my life head-on. I've seen myself raw and unencumbered.

I think I'm ready for the next part, the who I am going to be part. It's about damn time.

Jamie Varon is a writer based in Los Angeles. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.