The drinker who doesn’t drink. That’s me. I quit eighteen months ago. No backsliding, no cheating. Once I got through the first few months, it hasn’t really been that bad.
I have Tourettes Syndrome. But you’d never know it. My tics are fully in control. Effectively medicated with no obvious side-effects. As an added bonus, my intrusive thoughts, the hallmark of my OCD, are silenced as well.
Last autumn, I ran a 50K. This was the culmination of a big mileage year where each weekend found me on a two to three-hour run. This year, I’m focused on speed. Most of my runs are forty-minutes or less.
This is a readjustment period. I’m trying to figure out the new me. I’m not a drinker, or a Tourettes sufferer, or a distance runner. I’m no longer the guy with swirling thoughts leaving me ill-at-ease with everything.
I have a long-standing habit of trying to pin a label on myself. I look for something that makes me different, odd, broken or special, and I circle it. I say “this is me.” Right now, I have nothing to circle. No defining trait. Nothing that sets me apart from the next middle-aged, middle-class, middle-American guy. I’m the bourgeois, the hoi-polloi, part of the masses. I’m a tiny cog in the wheel of conformity.
Even my decades old distrust of the government has become run-of-the-mill.
I’ve worked hard to achieve this. I’ve been working to eliminate my feelings of outsiderness, otherness. It’s been my goal for years. I think I’ve finally done it, but now I feel ordinary—unworthy of attention.
Even my propensity for social awkwardness seems to be ebbing. It’s something I’ve been working on. The focus of weekly therapy sessions. Yesterday, I went out of my way to engage in conversation with a guy returning from a swim in the ocean. I stopped him. I asked some questions. Made small talk. I found the interaction satisfying.
Who am I?
I’ve worked hard to create a new me, and now I’m struggling to find any trait to circle. Anything to point to that makes me special, good or bad. Possibly, I’ve been too successful. Maybe I crave a little bit of that attention.