Day 8339: Continuing to Face the Challenges of Living Life in Recovery

Recently, I’ve been reminded of how challenging sobriety is. I’ve lived in recovery for over 8,300 days. 8,339 to be exact. Even after all that time, I’m not guaranteed sobriety tomorrow. It’s a decision I make first thing in the morning when I get up out of bed. Every day.

“I’m going to live sober today,” I say to myself.

“Yes,” my Self replies.

Keep in mind that I do this even though I don’t always feel like it. Yes. There are days where the fight to stay clean and sober is difficult. Even 20+ years later. And I still run into people every day who don’t really understand addiction or know what to do with former addicts like me (that’s ok–I don’t always know what to do with myself either).

Recovery isn’t’ something I got right the first time. It took a few tries. I wavered between stringing a few days back to back and over a year of sobriety. That’s right. One year. It ended like this:

“Want a beer?”

“Sure,” I shrugged. And off to the races we went.

For me, alcohol is the key that unlocks the door to a wild ride. Prior to recovery finally sticking, I went out on a 33-day binge that nearly killed me. My binge was fueled by a ton of things I won’t mention here. I don’t want to glorify them. I don’t want to tell you that you can do them and live. You can. Most people don’t. Those that do, usually wind up in jail. A fortunate few of us get rescued, finding refugee in the Halls and solace in the Rooms that offer us a free space to be ourselves. There’s no judgment in the Rooms. At least not usually (we are human after all). I guess a better way to say it is that there isn’t supposed to be any judgment. We each have our own story to tell; our own truth to share.

I’ve seen addiction steal lives. I’ve witnessed addiction destroy dreams. I’m grateful that I found a way up from the Bottoms. Although it’s something I had to do first and foremost for myself, it’s not something I did alone. A lot of people have helped me overcome my innermost personal demons. It’s because of the love and kindness of others that I can claim to live in victory today.

Semi-colons mark a point where a sentence could have stopped; a spot where the story could have ended. But by the grace of God…my life didn’t end with my addictions.

semicolonAre you struggling with addiction? Has alcohol or have drugs taken control of your life? You aren’t alone. You don’t have to keep suffering. You don’t have to keep living a lie. You don’t have to keep leaving a wake of devastation wherever you go. You can change. Life can be different. But you got to want it…

Start here or here.

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Grasping At Hope In The Pits

Chances are you didn’t start out intending to become an addict. Having an “-ism” wasn’t on your childhood wish list. Truth is your addiction started quite innocently enough. You were at a party and someone offered you a beer. Later on, some friends were smoking a joint and offered you a hit and without thinking much about it you had a toke. No big deal. You didn’t die. To the contrary, you felt alive. You felt good. You enjoyed the buzz. Being high suited you. It made you more confident, more affable, and gave you a certain edge. Yeah, you were cool.

Then, one day, several years later, after puking your guts out, you look in a mirror at a public bathroom, not recognizing your own reflection. Hours later, you’re crawling around a parking lot; only God knows why. Five o’clock doesn’t come soon enough, so you start drinking early in the morning, snorting a line of blow or smoking a blunt to help you adjust your edge as you prepare to deal with the onslaught of a new day.

Once you had everything. Now you have nothing. Nothing at all. Everything and everyone you cared about is gone. Yet, you still can’t stop. People hinted that you might have a problem. But you didn’t listen. You rationalized they were weak or maybe jealous of your carefree, careless lifestyle. You were the life of the party. You were the king of the dance.

Now what? Are you still in denial? Do you really think you’re not powerless? The time has come to quit living under the illusion that you’re in control. You’re not. Addiction is your master. Chasing the high rules you. You can’t stop. The wheel goes round and round and there doesn’t seem to be an easy way off the rollercoaster ride you find yourself on.

Our nature causes us to be content with the status quo until such a time the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the fear associated with making a change.

You don’t have to live this way. There is help available. There is a way out. There is a way to reclaim your life.

Why not let today be the day you begin your new life?

Serenity Plates

Step 1: Admitting We Were Powerless

We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.

We tried to stop, but we couldn’t. It wasn’t even remotely fun anymore. No matter how much we drank, we couldn’t reach the point where we felt good. No matter how much we smoked, snorted, swallowed, or shot, the rush of getting high just wasn’t there. We were walking misery. Sick and tired but unable to quit. Like the boxer past his prime, we couldn’t resist getting in the ring, even if it meant death.

Walking by a mirror, we no longer recognized the face we’d see. Who was this stranger? Who had we become?

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Darkness under the swollen eyelids, red, empty eyes, all but lifeless, except for each struggling breath I took. Did I need a boost or a lift? Maybe I needed to come down, ease up, relax. Confused. I didn’t have a conscience anymore. There wasn’t a line a wouldn’t cross. There were no boundaries I would obey. Nothing mattered. Just feed my addiction. Let me get my fix. Leave me alone. I don’t want your help. I don’t have a problem—YOU have a problem! I’m fine. Where am I again? How did I get here? I did what? Really?

If only I could stop. I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m finished. I don’t like feeling this way. Who’s out there? Did you hear that? I know you heard it. Don’t lie to me. Crap. How did that get there? I wonder if I hit anybody. That’s an awfully big dent. How did it get there? Why are the police here again? What do they think I did now?

I just want to stop. Help me. Please. Help me. I didn’t mean to turn out this way. It started simply enough. It was just one drink. It was just a little toke.

Looking up to see bottom, I don’t see any way out of here.

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If you need help, it’s out there. You don’t have to live this way.  You can stop. You can get your life back. Question is: are you ready?

Alcoholics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous

Al-Anon