Normal is not just a setting on the wash. I wanted to be normal desperately. Or whatever “normal” felt like to people who didn’t require large amounts of alcohol or drugs to feel. When I began my drunk career at age 19, after my first taste of alcohol, I came to understand what “normal” must feel like. It was bliss. No anxiety, no fear, no paranoia, no looking behind or forward obsessively. Just here and now and right now was so good. I’d never in all my life felt such comfort in my own skin. If you’re an alcoholic you know what I describe. Alas “normal” could not be a permanent fixture of my personality. In order to maintain this sense of adequacy, self-assurance and normalcy, over 15 years passed in a blurry booze-induced haze of increasing use, tolerance and eventually addiction. The end wasn’t pretty, as it usually never is for a drunk. I crashed hard into my bottom. But almost two years later I continue to rise from the ash, with my hands prayerful. What I’ve learned in recovery from alcoholism: normal is a state of mind even drunks can attain if you so aspire. However, the normal I’d yearned for and chased down with alcohol never existed; an illusion of the worst kind. A lie that felt like the truth. Now sober and recovering, the truth is captured with such clarity that to write about it diminishes its power. Truth above normal, my friends. Sobriety by the grace of God has taught me that.