1,084 days, 6 hours and 42 minutes and…93,667,839 heartbeats! I have a sober anniversary fast approaching and decided to plug my sobriety date into one of those online sobriety calculators.
So what does 1,084 days feel like and what does it mean to me? I am suddenly flooded with clichés related to time. Such as “time heals all wounds”, “time marches on”, “hindsight is 20/20” and “time takes time” etc.
What does it feel like? It feels incredibly great. And by “great” I definitely do not mean all good. But great in the sense that I now have an awareness, an understanding and acceptance that life is an on-going series of “good” things and “bad” things. Events that will bring you great joy and happiness and events that will bring you much disappointment and sorrow. That, I believe is called the Balance of Life! Knowing and accepting this balance has been gut wrenching at times, confusing, curious and joyful. Overall, it has been 3 years of real maturing development for me.
One of the best messages that I could pass along to someone who is just joining the ranks of the “ex-drinker” is that Time Takes Time! That’s a bit redundant and easy to remember. From my experience, the first thing that I wanted to do newly sober, was fix things as quickly as possible and put back all the time that I thought I had lost. No doubt there was a ton of wreckage behind me. I needed to mend relationships, get a job, lose 40 lbs, get my brown lawn looking green again and go out and proclaim what good fortune had come upon me. In hindsight, I would have been better off going down to the ocean and trying to stop the waves from breaking. That’s a good visual of what I was trying to do with my life.
If it feels like you are trying to swim against the rapids, chances are good that is exactly what you are doing! With hindsight and the passage of time, my advice to anyone today would be to recognize what you “want to do post-haste”, put it aside and focus squarely on taking care of yourself. There is no need for proclamation either. People are happy that you are showing a want to bring yourself out of a nose dive and they will be supportive of you. Keep the proclamations in your support circle as a constant need for that and that is the proper place.
Surround yourself with others who have been there before you and heed their advice. Learn how to a sober person – that takes time! Take walks instead of runs. It took a long time to put on those extra 40 lbs. and it will take time for them to come off. Water your lawn which will slow you down. The lawn will eventually turn green again but it will not be over night. And it will not be restored by flooding it once or twice. It will come back to life through nurturing and daily care. Your life will come back to you in this same way. Turning your face into the sunlight will help too!
“Try Not! Do, or Do Not! There is no try.”
On Feb 9th, it will be 3 years since I “surrendered” to my alcoholism and entered a 28 day treatment center. WOW! Today….it is painfully obvious to me what I would do if I were in that cycling struggle of trying to stop my drinking. I would go to treatment as soon as possible. And, if I didn’t have the money, I would borrow it. Isn’t hindsight amazing! I tried and I tried to get sober for 7 years. But it doesn’t work that way. There is only Do! Unfortunately, we generally have to experience much pain, over and over, before we actually do something about it. Hopefully we don’t die in the process, or worse, kill someone on this destructive journey.
I was commenting to my wife the other day about how I watch the daily struggle on the Sober Dare page. Where it is not so painfully obvious of what to do when one cannot stop drinking, despite continued adverse consequences. If I offer up my advice and tell them what to do, in the kindest way possible, it just seems to fall on deaf ears! Hell, I owned those ears for 7 years! Continue reading “Surrender…Surrender Not!”
I have always considered myself to be a pretty good planner. From a very early age onward I seemed to have my life pretty well planned out. Go to school, get good grades, play sports, have fun, graduate, go to college, get a degree, pursue a career, fall in love, get married and have children. Living the American dream had a real appeal to me!
I never considered the fact that things might happen in my life that I had not planned. At about the age of 35, career on an upward path, married with two small children and another on the way, I began to have an affinity for alcohol that seemed to gradually escalate beyond normal social drinking. Hey, who could blame me though for having a good stiff drink or two or three or four! There were now a lot of demands in my life and alcohol just seemed like a pretty good way to offload some of the burden that I had started to feel.
As my family grew, my marriage carried forward and my bank account increased as my career began a meteoric rise, my alcohol consumption kept pace with all of the things that I had so carefully planned for. For the next few years life was pretty darn good!
They say that a DUI is the first legal indication that you might have a serious drinking problem. In fact, you might even be an alcoholic! I learned that in one of the AA meetings that I had been sentenced to attend by the Courts. When my children were the ages of six, four and two, I went out partying one night after work. After leaving the night spot, that I had been at, I drove my vehicle down a winding road on my path homeward. Traveling at about 50 mph, I passed out as I was navigating an s-curve and proceeded up an embankment until my Jeep Cherokee began a barrel roll back onto the road that I had been traveling on. Amazingly, my Jeep came to a stop on all four wheels and did not take out any other vehicles in the process. The police arrived, assessed me for any injuries and then assessed me under the suspicion of driving while intoxicated. When I failed the field sobriety test, I was handcuffed, put in the squad car and driven off to the county jail.
In all my 38 years I had never been arrested. Being arrested was never anything that I had planned for in my life. Neither was the precipitous decline into alcoholism that I had yet to become aware of