Today I celebrate 5 years of sobriety. 5 years ago this week I got into my Mother’s car and headed to rehab asking the question “How did I get here?” I didn’t know it then but it was during this moment, the lowest moment of my life, the proverbial “rock bottom” if you will, that my life turned for the better. It was the moment I started dealing with my demons, battling them and beating them. I have learned many lessons over the last 5 years and I thought I would share some of them today.
1 – I prayed to God to remove all enemies from my life…and I lost half my friends. Most of the friends and family that I ran from during the worst of my addiction are the ones that I run to during my quest for sustained sobriety. The ones that listen more than they talk. The ones that tell the truth, even when the truth is painful. The ones that accept me, flaws and all. The ones that live their lives in a way that inspire and challenge me to be a better man. Those that leave me better than they found me each time our paths cross. Those are the friends that I surround myself with these days.
2 – Early on in the process my sponsor told me that not everyone would be happy with the better version of me. Boy was he right. Believe it or not, some people have called me to task because I am on a better path. On more than one occasion I have had to do battle with people that want me to go to the strip club, drink when they drink or gossip or share in their general negativity about their life. Nope, that’s just not who I am. (See number 1)
3 – There are trees and clouds and smells that must be recognized to be enjoyed. I spent many years isolated and inside. Adderall left me super sensitive to light, noise and unable to smell or taste. Now, I never pass up an opportunity to stare at the clouds and trees or smell the cut grass. I am constantly in awe of the many miracles God has placed all around us and the days of me taking them for granted have long passed.
4 – Emotions are beautiful. Adderall, ambien, dehydration and lack of sleep left me numb as a statue. I went years without feeling anything. Not the joy of a Falcons win, not the sadness at the death of a friend, not the warmth of my children, not the pain of failure…nothing. When I started to feel anything it was time for another pill. Now that I have the ability to manage my emotions instead of them managing me, they are beautiful. Emotions are proof that we are alive.
5 – I am not perfect. Nope, not perfect. I still mess up and I still fail and life still hands me a lemon every now and then. I accept it and don’t let a few steps back ruin a dozen steps forward. Lessons from the past have become fuel for the future. I could go on but you get the picture.
6 – Do the work. There have been times during my recovery that I lived to do the work. Reading my bible, doing the steps, calling my support peeps was easy and consistent. Other times doing the steps, reading my bible, calling my support group, attending meetings, dealing with issues and situations as they present themselves is just not as important as it should be. I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt that my life is better, and not by a little, when I actually do the work. This process has been around for many many years for a simple reason, it works. Do the work and results will follow. Don’t do the work and your fight to remain sober will turn into a fight to become sober all over again.
7– God is good. Without his grace, forgiveness and love there would be no path worth taking. My faith keeps me grounded. My faith keeps me strong. My faith gives me a purpose much bigger than myself. My faith gives me comfort when the tsunami is approaching. My faith is my sobriety.
8 – The growth never stops. Ever. I mean, like never, ever stops. There is always more to know and just when I think that I’ve got a good handle on this sobriety thing there is another lesson waiting for me just around the bend.
I will sum up with this. If you are hurt, if your life has become unmanageable and you need help, it’s out there. Go to a meeting. There are 12 step meetings just about every hour of the day. Look up Celebrate Recovery and get involved. There is a better life out there if you are willing to fight for it.