I get it or I got it?
Recently, I have been given the opportunity to help two young men attempt to get and stay sober. It has not been easy to watch their pitfalls mirrored closely to my own attempts to get sober in the past. I feel the pain they go through, I know the struggles of my own path were so similar and I only hope they can make the same leaps of faith I have been able to make in recent years. It can be simple, but not easy.
24 hours to go
Most 12 step programs promote the idea of 24 hours, one day at a time, etc. as a measure of time to attempt to stay sober within. You don't drink/drug for 24 hours and you wake up and do it all over again. For the uninitiated, the idea of getting 24 hours sober may sound pretty easy... “Just don't do it!” Right? Well, for some of you, getting a year sober would be (and probably currently is) a piece of cake. But for the daily-initiated, it's nearly unbearable. The idea of being alone with your own thoughts for any length of time or the knowable misery ahead is unthinkable and can always be put off until a “better time”. I seemed to be both when it came to my own half-hearted attempts to stay sober in the past.
I recently celebrated three years of sobriety and as I look back I can see what has kept me in the sobriety seat this time around. Here are just a few of the items I noted:
- I surrendered - I had to admit to myself and nobody else that I have always had the problems I have had. They may have been lessened by the amount I would consume or made worse by the choice of drug, but I have always had problems with substances.
- I went “ALL IN” - Maybe it was easier this time? I didn't have any friends left, I had tried all that there was to try; work, drugs, sex, drink, money, materialism, etc. (no particular order of course). All the “things” had been exhausted and the decision to commit to sobriety was the only thing I felt I have never tried.
- I know that I don't know - now... I thought I had a lot figured out. I had a good job, family, house, cars, etc. But if I had it “figured out” what was I doing at my computer at midnight drunk on a Wednesday? Why did I drink every day? Why was I so afraid, lonely, sad, and generally irritated all the time? Cynical as fuck! Why was I typing “HOW TO STOP DRINKING” into google yet again? What I came to know was that I didn't know. I read that in posts on reddit.com/r/stopdrinking a few times trying to get sober and I know exactly what that means today. Humbling, but I know now what they meant.
- I am also more than I think I am - I never understood how much the basics of caring for another human being meant until that human was me. The women and men who helped me get a foothold in my sobriety showed me that I am more than I think I am and they are more than they think. I relied a lot on their experience and knowledge and I am grateful for them all (in and out of 12 step programs). The experience of connecting with others on deeper non-surface levels has become a very important part of my spiritual journey and experience. I enjoy that a lot today.
- Helping others - As I mentioned above, the ability to help someone in the same way that I was helped is truly a blessing. As everyone in their lives may have turned away, there are those who are able to relate and turn toward someone who is hurting and give that person a little hope. I want to be one of those people today.
- I read books! - Man! Today I read more than Facebook and Twitter. More than the current headlines and news cycle. I don't read as many technical manuals as I use to, but I get involved in the content I read today. I look for lessons and how to apply them in my life. You would be surprised how little effort it takes some days ;)
- I go to meetings. - I don't like them some days. I really don't. I pull up and head inside and think “What am I doing here?” most of the time. But soon after arriving, that feeling is replaced with laughter and a sense of belonging and understanding that I have only known in meetings. It's the only place a complete stranger can sit down and instantly reminisce.
Some of us just don't get it
Some of us just never get sober. I get it. Some of us will never see our own faults, our own denial, or the hurt we cause. Some are in full flight from reality, some will drink/drug until the bitter end with full knowledge of their condition. That is just the reality of alcoholism and addiction. On my third year anniversary, I was standing in another man's home watching him stumble across the hallway to meet myself and another man. After a year of sobriety, this shuffling shag carpet man had relapsed (drinking) and his family was scared and called on us in hopes of getting him sober and help. We left as the man had refused our help and as we drove away, we both grimaced at the thought of him and probably even more at the thought of our own potential relapses.
8. When I think - “I get it... I got it...” I try to remember that I only have it... Just for today.