Anti-Sobriety Myths

At this writing, I’ve been sober 16 years.

Getting sober  takes time.

I’ve seen a few myths derail more than one person’s chance at getting sober.

One myth says: “I am sober when I stop drinking.”

Wrong. Not, somewhat wrong, or a little wrong. Wrong. Dead wrong. You’re clean, as it were, when you stop drinking, not sober.

Here’s the reality (fact) that replaces the myth. You have to stop drinking in order to get sober. Getting sober takes time. Trust me.  If you’re fortunate enough to be in your early strides of the experience, you don’t yet realize how unwell you are.

Another myth says: “I can do it alone” and yet another is some family member or loved one thinking that they can save the alcoholic-addict.

Reality says: “Not only are you wrong, but don’t you think it’s nice to find out there is at least one massive life challenge you don’t have to face alone?”

I do.

There is another unflinching fact. Being an active alcoholic results in one of three endings: jails, institutions, or death. This is fact.

One other thing, another expression I learned. You’re not allowed to kill yourself in your first three years of sobriety because you’ll be killing the wrong person.

 

 

Goodbye My Sponsor

Goodbye my sponsor I love you.

Only moments after finishing a speech today I learn you’ve died. For a moment air leaves my world and then, standing outside minutes later in the sun, I hear you saying, “Remember, Peter, the moment you’re in is the only place you have to be.” And the air returns and I thank the sun for being there.

Goodbye my sponsor I love you.

In our first days together you over and over again say keep your head where your feet are, stay in the moment. Over our first coffee together you tell me you want me to stop biting my nails. I am perplexed. Why? Because you’ll have to stay in the moment you’re in.

Goodbye my sponsor I love you.

Once just before a meeting I tell you I didn’t feel like coming. You smiled and said, “There are only two times you should come to a meeting, when you want to and when you don’t.” Being a typical alcoholic I say, “What if I’m not sure,”  and you smile at me with so much love and say, “I stand corrected, there are three times."

Goodbye my sponsor I love you.

Walking together to the parking lot after a meeting one evening you touch my arm and say, “Look up, Peter. Look over there.” And you are pointing at a white church steeple and the beautiful blue-black sky beyond sprinkled with stars. “Don’t miss it,” you say, and I didn’t.

Goodbye my sponsor I love you.

You teach me to look for my unhealthy patterns. You may not get free of them right away, but when you begin to notice them you’re breaking their grip. And remember, alcoholism is like a sleeping dragon, every once in awhile it will open it’s eyes to see if you’re paying attention to your sobriety.

Goodbye my sponsor I love you.

I am doing my best one day at a time and I am alive today so much because of you and yes I am present and accounted for in this moment and you are here with me.

Goodbye my sponsor I love you.

 

for E. L.

Eight Years Sober

If anyone told me years ago that I’d go eight years without drinking or smoking pot I would have immediately concluded they were smoking better weed than I ever smoked, and truth to tell, I smoked some good weed. But here I am, eight years sober today, July 12.

Without question sobriety is the most glorious presence in my life. All of life is here for me and I get to live it and experience  it, good and bad, as me. And isn’t that the point of life in the first place? To live it being who you are? Not some distorted version of yourself. Not as someone whose health: emotional, spiritual and physical is at risk because of the large amounts of alcohol and drugs your body is ingesting.

In my last days of using I was high on pot at all times and drinking 10 to 14 large glass gin and tonics every night. Being asthmatic, I would put myself through three or four nebulizer treatments daily so I could keep my lungs open for pot. It is a miracle I am alive.

I remember when I first went into a 12-step program, which works if you work it because if you truly work it you are wedded to rigorous honesty, I’d hear people refer to themselves as grateful recovering alcoholics. I’d hear people say this and think, Oh for God sakes, give me a break. But, I had a long way to go at the time. They knew this. I didn’t. But I do now. And now, with all my heart and soul I am proud to say I am a grateful recovering alcoholic.

I know there was a time, years in fact, when I  believed it was impossible for me to live life without the presence of pot, and, after my one mother’s suicide in 1992, the presence of alcohol. I have, however, learned a remarkable thing. What feels impossible may not be impossible. If you think it is impossible for you to be free of alcohol and drugs, you too have a right to discover that what feels impossible is not impossible, it simply feels that way.

Now, I am proud to say, it is impossible for me to live life with the presence of alcohol or pot. I love life this way.

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Honesty: Addiction’s Greatest Fear

Addiction has one simple goal – murder life.

In the meantime, it will feast on your life, people in your life, and destroy anything and everything in its path. As discussed in the previous blog post, secrecy is its favorite fuel. The extent of your silence, the degree to which you are leaving things unsaid, the measure of your dishonesty is, in truth, an accurate measure of the distance you need to travel to get well, to be free. Free to be you, finally and gloriously, you.

Honesty is, if not the most powerful weapon, one of the most powerful weapons you can use in your war with addiction. Addiction cannot survive when faced with honesty, real, rigorous honesty which includes being open about what is going on.

Know this: whether you are the alcoholic-addict or you are a friend or family member, the extent to which you hide or don’t admit what is happening reflects the danger you are in. The sunlight of honesty slays the vampire of addiction. Let the light in. And if you think I don’t know what I’m talking about, consider two things. I am seven years sober because I have learned what an extraordinary and honorable friend honesty is. My younger brother could never get himself into the light and I missed the signs. What happened? When he was 23 he put a rifle to the side of his head and fired. I was 24. There are no happy endings without honesty. and openness. You drive away or hide from the honest people in your life, you drive away and hide from your allies.

A warning. If you do call attention to the presence of the addiction, you may get wounded. Some find it easier to shoot the messenger than deal with the message. But mark my words, however difficult the message may be for you to deal with ain’t shit compared to the wrenching pain and destruction addiction will inflict on your life and the lives of your loved ones.

Do you hear me?