The Sober Husband – Volume 5 – 12/31/20

It’s 10pm on New Year’s Eve and I just put Jen in bed. She didn’t even make it to midnight. She apologized profusely as I put the blankets over her and I assured her that it’s ok… and it is. She gets up at 530am every day during the week and works hard at her job. Her ambition and drive is one of the things to which I’m most attracted. I’m not bitter or angry or resentful that my New Year’s Eve is over before midnight. I’m grateful for the wonderful night we had. We got dressed up and had a candle light dinner, then put on our pajamas and zoomed with some friends. I called or texted most of my friends and family throughout the night to wish them a happy new year. One of the things that I realized tonight was that I don’t talk to my friends or family nearly enough. I was always the one who organized our nights and weekends when we were younger back in Chicago and I’ve let that fall by the wayside as adulthood and distance has taken over. Life is partly to blame for it but so is laziness and if I’m being completely honest, self-centeredness and pride. (i.e. Why can’t they call me?) 

This week an old comedy pal of mine from Chicago died of ALS. I had no idea he even had it. We hadn’t talked in 3 years and it turns out that his brain had been extremely impacted by it and his personality was gone. When I heard the news I looked at the messages we had exchanged throughout the years and every one of them was an unsolicited note of encouragement from him. Every one. What a gift. And I thought how easy is it to just be kind. It’s so easy. To just reach out to someone and tell them you’re thinking about them or that you’re proud of them or just ask how they’re doing. 

Tonight is the perfect ending to 2020 and the perfect analogy of what my year was like and how sobriety has changed it.  For most alcoholics (and even normal people) New Year’s Eve is the cherry on top. It’s the perfect excuse to let loose and drink your face off and I took advantage of that most NYE’s. I wanted to ring in the new year with a bang. I wanted to fucking party. I wanted to laugh and cry and smoke cigars and beg my date to let us stay for just a little while longer. Just one more drink and we’ll go. I never wanted the night to end. 

This is my 5th sober New Year’s Eve and it’s during a pandemic. To say this year has been challenging would be the greatest understatement of the year. Simply put, it sucked shit. Many of us lost jobs, or at least income, some of us lost loved ones or had to witness some family and friends getting very sick. We had to wait in long lines just to do normal things like grocery shop and most of us haven’t been to a movie in 9 months. Black Lives Matter united some yet divided others and to top it all off it was an election year. An extremely stressful election regardless of which side you were on. 

When I reflect on this year I know I would have drank most days just to pass the time and deal with the psychological impact of quarantine. Liquor sales were up 40% this year so I wouldn’t have been alone. I also would have been far more depressed as I brooded over the dire situation we found ourselves in. And as usual there would have been many many drunk dials. But instead I was given the greatest gift I’ve received in sobriety thus far. Perspective. I didn’t hit the panic button. I stayed in the present. I understood that this too shall pass. I stayed patient and tried my best to be empathetic. I prayed and meditated more and even a few times I just had a good ole fashioned cry. I focused on being of service to other people. Like so many of us, I had good days and bad days, and when I did, I talked about them to Jen and my friends. I didn’t bottle it all up like I’ve always done but just let go of whatever I couldn’t control and stayed grounded in gratitude for the things I did have. My health, money to pay bills, a roof over my head, food in the fridge and of course, Tiger King. 

My perspective has changed. I no longer have to be the life of the party or even go to the party to have joy in my life. I can have dinner with my beautiful wife, tuck her in and blog on New Year’s Eve and not dwell on the fact that someone out there might be having more goddam fun than me, god forbid. I was so worried about being boring when I quit drinking. I was worried about not drinking at weddings or ball games or barbecue’s. I was dreading my first sober new year’s eve but all of that fear went away when I realized that the thing that I loved the most about this night was the people I spent it with. So I called them. I texted them. I told them I loved them and I made a promise to myself to make sure I said it again before next New Year’s Eve. Because if this year has taught us anything it’s that tomorrow isn’t promised and so as my friend who passed away this week so often did, I wanted to end this cluster fuck of a year by letting you know that I’m grateful for you. I’m grateful for my new perspective, my sobriety, my life, and most importantly my lame ass sleeping wife.

Happy New Year! 

The Sober Husband Blog – Volume 4 – 11/13/20

We’ve all been impacted in one way or another by the Coronavirus. Although I know quite a few people who have gotten very sick I’m grateful to say I haven’t lost anyone. I have essentially been out of work for 8 months. I have had a handful of zoom shows and a couple weeks of work in the midwest but that’s been about it. I have a lot of colleagues that are in the same boat as me and it’s been interesting to see how people have adapted or confronted the situation. A friend of mine opened a virtual comedy club that’s doing very well, another friend of mine wrote a book, a bunch of friends have gone back to school and another friend of mine lost 20 pounds and looks incredible. 

Thanks to a dear friend of mine, I was able to get a day job right away when the pandemic began and it was a lifeboat both financially and mentally as I had purpose each day but that didn’t last unfortunately. So left to my own devices each day, I make the bed and do the dishes and go to meetings and binge Netflix and walk the dog and play video games and try to write but as a comedian we are reporting back to you, the audience, what’s going on in life but when life stops it’s hard to write. And I need to because I’m somewhat of a comedian without an act. My whole act in the last 5 years has essentially been about being a divorcee in search of love and now I’m a married man in love. So now I have plenty of time because of the pandemic and a lot of new stuff to talk about because of all the changes in my life recently but still nowhere to talk about it. It wasn’t until the last couple of weeks that I realized how much of my happiness was tied into my comedy career. I love being on the road. I love being on stage, I love to perform and for the last 8 months that has been taken away from me. Jen and I have even made a few sketches which have been a lot of fun but I feel sad at what is missing in my life which is my work, my passion. As an alcoholic I am used to just pushing down these emotions and putting on a happy face (or a drunk face) and getting through it but as someone in recovery I have to acknowledge the fact that my life and my work are essentially on hold. Feel the feelings Ken. (gross)

Last year I read “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, about his experience surviving the holocaust and he talked about how many people simply died of heartache. They were the ones who hadn’t accepted their present situation. The ones who thought it would all be over by Christmas or New Year’s or Easter often times gave up hope when those dates came and went but the ones who accepted that they may die on any given day and that they had no control over when they would be released from captivity found a way to survive (sometimes). This situation we find ourselves in isn’t, in my opinion, as traumatic and tragic as the holocaust but I think the principles of hope remain the same. I don’t know if I’ll catch this virus and if I do how sick it could make me or if I could die or lose any of my loved ones. And we have to live with that in the back of our mind every day. I don’t know when the comedy clubs will open back up safely, nobody does. I don’t know when life will “get back to normal” or if it ever will and so I have to first grieve the loss of my old life, recognize the dangers that exist in my new world and adapt. Other than that, I’m powerless. Which is tough for a control freak alcoholic. Right now all I can control is how often I write. All I can control is finding other outlets to use my talents whether it’s online through social media or through another avenue like writing. 

One of my favorite expressions that I’ve learned in recovery is “keep your feet moving”. Meaning don’t sit around and wait for the world to start up again, figure out the world you’re living in today and how you’re going to fit into it. For me, that means re-imagining my routine. My routine before the pandemic revolved around booking jobs, promoting my brand, writing new material and getting on stage every night but now the emphasis has to be on self care (meditation/journaling), service to others (recognizing that we’re all in the same boat and living in this new reality and people could use a helping hand) and being more disciplined about writing and creating and finding new ways to share my passion. I’m also doing away with the guilt and shame I feel for not working or feeling like a dead beat from time to time. It serves no purpose whatsoever and that negative thinking causes more harm than actual motivation. I have found that meditation every morning has been extremely helpful. If you have an American Express card one of the perks is that you can download the Calm App for one year for free and every morning I get a friendly reminder to meditate. I do it (or at least try to) before I look at social media so that I can start my day with a clean slate. It helps me to prepare my mind that day for whatever it is I’m hoping to accomplish. 

Some people have remarked how difficult it must be to be sober during this pandemic. I read somewhere that alcohol sales were up 40%. But I haven’t really had an issue with it because I know that drinking isn’t really going to solve any of these challenges I’m facing. They just mask them for a few hours and then I’m just left feeling shitty the next couple of days. Instead, I wake up every day thinking of a quote I read from Mr. Frankl’s amazing book, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” And my way… is forward.