Magic Cough Syrup

The new struggles as we let go of even more, even more than we thought physically possible, is the question, should I care? Caught in the middle of ‘the world’ and the ‘not the world’, I skate razors edges ever being cut and healed again before the next.

I say struggle, because one such is that these smattering of letters each week ignites and inflames the topic that I type. I can speak of cooling old anger, then it flares up agian. I can claim newfound confidence, only to slink back and shrivel for the next week or so. I intend to be raw, and real and do the one and only thing I’ve ever been really good at, which is to feel these detailed and thorny emotions, point by prickly point, and hope it helps to share.

Yet, as I scoot the demon out the door, and bolt it shut, I spin around to find a legion more, still snarling and writhing within. So here’s one I am afraid to write about. The Drinker that still lives in me… I could write a real raw tale about what pinging and ponging goes on in the brain of someone still trying to keep that world away, living sobriety. But if I do, and make any claims of accomplishment, it could backfire, big time.

So I’ll only say, what I really only ever said. “I’m not drinking today.” That’s it.

The demons Jesus cast into a herd of swine, rushed down into the sea and drowned. The legion was removed from the man. Jesus has done this before. Sometimes I think he’s done it to me too. I love those times.

Other times, I feel the fullness of an army of ghoulish greedy and sinister spirits that want to derail any progress or peaceful state of mind that I’ve experienced. Sometimes, the worst times, they don’t seem sinister at all. They seem lighthearted, and easy going. They don’t pressure or judge, but they offer and toss ideas of possibility. They whisper and coo. They leave me to do the choosing. They want me to decide that I want things back. That I want release and relaxation with a simple beer, a glass of wine with my wife… And the true struggle lies in the question: Is that so bad?

How does this inquiry arrive? What makes it so hard to answer? The events, the parties, the world I used to know so damned well, is just a sip away, a phone call away, an easy, so easy, cracking of a can, and it can all be back again… The Egypt that I was a slave of, would welcome me home so fast… Would I be me, as now, back there? Or the former version, in all ways, so good and oh so bad?

In a couple of days it will be 21 months of no drinking. It certainly isn’t 21 months of no thoughts of it. Going without has done a few things. Maybe it was finding God, that did a few things. I can’t say for sure. I can prove some facts however. I am right where I am supposed to be in my life, right now. I am married to an absolute blessing of a woman, who I love. Just like sobriety, it brings so much good to my life, but it’s not always easy.

So these struggles are for good. These moments that I experience another day dry, or another day married, or another day of appreciating something tiny and divine, I wonder if I am doing it right. Funny, huh? I fall so short of being the good friend I once was, or the good brother at times, or especially the late night campfire clown… My heart is heavy when I see that old world up close again, but from so far away…

Back to the hard-to-answer questions, for me. As detached as I have chosen to be, and continue to be, should I care? As seemingly small as a slip back to sipping cold suds with good buds would be, why fight that? If my life is now in such wonderful condition, why would I spend any time at all, pondering the past? Would it be okay, to really reveal my thoughts about it here?

I am not a perfect man of God. I don’t even really think I know what that is. I know I feel the presence of God within me. I know I feel demons too… One thing I have noticed though, with a mind and a body that has almost 21 months of sober awareness for new discoveries… I see how we worship. I see how hard it is for me, to really worship God and life and joy and love and freely, openly, be the artistic and sensitive and spiritual soul that seems be alive in me. Instead, I see how easy it is worship something else. I used to worship the alcohol itself. Don’t laugh, don’t dismiss too quick. All sentences about fun and love and joy, had to do with the drink. All the talk had a glue, the good times a lubrication. A universal language understood across people and places.

It was an easier language to speak aloud, than the Good News, is for me to do. So therefore, I struggle, and for now, choose the harder way. The old ways are so delicious in my mind. The richness of that world so tantalizing. To be with God, but in this world, leaves us feeling poor and lonely and lost sometimes.

Something else though I must say… Much more often, I feel full instead of empty. I feel calm instead of anxious. I honestly, truly, don’t care about a bunch of crap that I used to really care about because I had done it for so long. And I do wonder still, if I can give myself permission to be okay with that.

These words are fresh and relevant today to me. They aren’t written for you, in the way, that they ‘should’ be your words, or are ‘supposed’ to be your thoughts too. It’s just a written recording of this moment in my life. I can pour my heart onto this screen and bleed my true feelings all over this page, and not know if it has made any impact out there in the world. If it has affected you, let me know. It is easier to post a picture of a tomato plant, if I am in the mood for feedback. I’ll get 25 likes and 5 comments surely, every time. So there. Have fun, drink it up. Do what you wish to do today. I am not here to say otherwise.

I did plenty of it. I tried it over and over and over again. I lived in the world of the worship of alcohol as a magic elixir for every occasion. In fact, I was the carnival barker, the pitchman and the demon himself, maybe convincing you sometime to tie one on, with me. So this isn’t about not understanding, it’s about understanding all too well.

I’ll wrap this up, by reminding myself of the first of ten important Commandments. Thou shalt have no other gods before me… I did have then. I struggle now, to keep them at bay, and keep my eyes on the one true God. I can’t say exactly why, but I can prove that God is powerful enough to fix my broken-ness in a divine way. The creator of this whole universe apparently does have me in mind for something other than that ‘old version of me…’

I was told on October 1st, 2011 ‘God can only use me, if I’m sober’, I do expect this experiment to produce fruit, in a way that can only be attributed to Him.


Aaron Nichols

PS – Future Aaron: Keep up the good work, I’m proud of you, for choosing to be exactly who you want to be, weirdness and all!

3 thoughts on “Magic Cough Syrup

  1. Wow!! How wonderfully written. Thank you for sharing. To be able to put into words the demons that we all deal with would be so freeing. I’m lost for how to express what I want to say.

  2. I am very proud of you, Aaron. Not only for your strength and bravery through difficulties, but for being able to profoundly express yourself while in a place where most people are at a loss for words.

  3. Aaron I am so proud of the man you’ve become. And your journey in life made you in to this man!! I hope your story helps others who are fighting the demons in their lives. Bless you for sharing!!

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