(49) Better than before

Life goes on with or without you. Time moves forward no matter if you are a part of it or not. There was a time when I wasn’t a part of the living. I don’t like to dwell on my past behaviors but then again it’s brought me to where I am now. Sometimes you gotta go back every now and then to see that you have become a better person. The past isn’t pretty for a recovering (recovered) addict or alcoholic but knowing where you came from reminds you that you can live a happy and productive life. It is worth all the pain and suffering when you do turn your life around. I can truly say that today I am more at peace with myself that I’ve been in a long time. A couple years ago I was a defeated man looking for a way out, drinking my life away. I didn’t care who I hurt, had no thought about tomorrow or if I lived or died. It wasn’t until I got to the root of my problem that I could face why I drank and consumed pills to begin with. I understand we all have tragedies in our life, things that take us by surprise but how we conquer our trials is the difference between success and failure.

The stuff I did, that I put on others seems like it was a lifetime ago but at the same time it’s as fresh as yesterday. Forgetting is easier than forgiving. The past is what it is, it’s gone and there’s nothing you can do to change it. You can look back but only to reassure yourself that repeating those mistakes cannot happen again. You’ve got to much to lose ya know. You can’t keep beating yourself up forever, if you do then change will never happen. Sometimes your problems are the best solutions to not repeating those bad habits. But breaking those bad  habits takes time, it takes time and respect for yourself. If you don’t like the person looking back at you in the mirror then you will never get better. It won’t happen. Everyone has struggles we gotta face, problems we gotta deal with. But if we can’t get to the root of what’s causing the pain then there’s gonna be little change in getting better. And to be clear here if you don’t take charge of your life then who will? Nothing will ever happen if you don’t make a conscious decision to forgive yourself. You’ll never lead a happy and fulfilling life. Man it just won’t happen. You gotta do something to change, there’s gonna haveta be action on your part. This is a process, a process of doing something in order to achieve that change. Again change isn’t always easy, heck it’s never easy but if there’s no movement on your part then you’re stuck repeating those habits. If you move forward and don’t let go of your addiction then the outcome will always be the same. You’ll go nuts and you’ll certainly never change.

Look I still have my struggles everyday like everyone else does but the change for me today is I don’t reach for an 18 pack or a bottle to solve my problems. I take care of things differently now, I make a conscious effort not to repeat my past mistakes. Alcohol no longer has control over my life because I made the decision to change my actions. Having a drink really wasn’t the issue, the issue was to let drinking solve my problems. Actually the opposite happened it just added more problems to what was already a bad situation.

Having said all of that, here I am two years later a much healthier and happy guy. I am blessed with a beautiful women by my side that still looks at me like the first time we were together. I have friends and family that truly care about my well being and make sure I stay true to myself. They love me without conditions. I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to have this second chance to make a change. There are a lot of folks that never get that second chance so yeah I’m truly thankful.

(48) Moving forward

Getting defeated doesn’t mean you have to give up, all it means is that you have to try that much harder next time. What I’ve learned is that feeling lost by drinking and substance abuse shouldn’t define who you are. I used to be that guy, a guy with a good heart but had really not takin ownership of his real issues. I used to cast blame anywhere it would stick, hoping someone else would jump in and fix my problem. It doesn’t work like that. There was a lot of fear and confusion as I kept battling with alcohol and drugs. I thought how sad was it that I could never get a grip on reality and seemed to be stuck in a bottle without anyone around to help. Must’ve been a little weak and a little desperate at the same time. But then…

Then I saw a person slowly begin to CHANGE and grow more confident as the weeks turned into months. It wasn’t easy but then overcoming failure takes a lot of work and belief in yourself. Ya know that is the single most important step (what I’ve learned) is believin in yourself. I remember thinkin yeah this guy is sober but so what. What now? An addict spends a lot of time kickin themselves or beatin themselves up cause we think we are nothin more than a failure and things will never get better. Ya know it’s easy ta stay in that place, the place where we just give up and keep wallowing in our own misery. Why… cause you don’t haveta change anything. It’s like admitting you have a problem to begin with, that’s easy, it’s easy to keep drinking or shooting pills to cope. And yeah I’m an alcoholic and I know it, shoot everyone knows it, so what? It’s the next step doin something about it that makes the biggest impact. Ya know the jump is only half of the battle, you’re gonna hit the water at some point and that is gonna hurt like hell.

But that’s how it works, wish there was an easier way but there isn’t. However this is when things do CHANGE and your life does get better. You haveta finish the chapter and then go on to the next. I think a lot of folks keep going over and reading the same chapter not really movin forward. They stay in the safe mode of recovery ya know, I don’t want to be in recovery for the rest of my life, I want to put an “ed” at the end of my walk.

When I stop to think about the road I was on and the trouble I had caused others, people who cared about me, people that loved me. They just didn’t know how to help or should they’ve or could they’ve of. All they could do is wait… and wait… watching and waiting. Here’s the thing tho, this is when CHANGE happens, you haveta forgive yourself (which this guy has come to learn the hard way) is the most important step in healing, it’s the key to movin on and getting healthy. It’s also one of the most difficult things to do. Ya know admitting the obvious and then takin action right? How do you move on when the one thing you were good at didn’t really matter much. Wasted years, shattered lives, broken hearts, unfulfilled dreams, promises never kept and relationships tossed aside. How do you fix that? Truth is you can’t until you start fixin yourself and that is easier said than done. You haveta start somewhere and forgiveness is the best place to begin that process. But how do you do that? Ya haveta let it go, ya take that guilt off your shoulders and say to yourself I am done, I can’t carry this any longer, I just can’t bare this pain any more. Then it happens… it finally happens… you actually move on. Why did it take so flippin long… why didn’t I just do this from the very beginning? Who knows why? Pride perhaps, the point is you do get better and whatever you broke eventually heals, if you let it. But man you gotta let it, you gotta move on, stop turnin around and feelin sorry for yourself. The past never changes.

You can’t get better if you’re always looking over your shoulder. To me it’s not how ya run the race it’s just that you cross the finish line at some point. If an organized step program works for you… awesome, if it doesn’t then great just get better, just cross the finish line. There is a final chapter in every book. I agree recovery is a process but eventually at some point along the road you’ll be recovered. I refuse to let alcohol define me and ya know it will not anymore. There are twelve (or however many) steps you’re takin but sooner or later your standin on flat ground again. There’s no need to re-climb the stairs if you’ve already reached the top. I mean your done right… move forward.

CHANGE is to pass from one state to another, to become different or make something or somebody different.

(47) Three hundred sixty five days

I had so many thoughts spinning around when I began this process and began sharing my stories about the stuff I put others thru. This has kept me on course staying accountable to myself and my buffer. Have yet to slip backwards and hope and trust that I never will, that whatever woke me up keeps me moving forward. Even if I do relapse, this isn’t to say I am planning on getting drunk ever again, but in the chance that I do cave in for whatever reason I know now how to overcome failure. That’s what all this boils down to right? I’ve made it a year now (today in fact) and lately I’ve come to the conclusion that if BAD ever does chase down and catch WORSE that the key is getting back up. Ya see I’ve already taken the pressure off me “slipping up” cause that has been my biggest fear and if I let that go… what’ve I got to lose? I mean some national associations make you go back to start if you sip whatever was your cement block before. I’m just sayin bag that idea that isn’t the way it should work. I think the expectations are outta whack. What message does that send to a person that is clean or sober for years and then slips up and goes all the way back to the starting line? That’s like sending Drew Brees back to quarterback camp after throwing a couple of interceptions. Now if your were head coach of the Saints and you told the owner hey I’m pulling Drew until he gets his act together again… you’d lose your coaching job. And you should cause you’d be an idiot. It doesn’t work that way if you’re trying to get in shape, lets say you decide to take a few days off from your routine you don’t go back to walking 15 minutes on the treadmill when a few days ago you were running for 60 an hour. Why in the heck would ya? I’m thinkin you’d step on the machine push in 45 to 60 minutes, set your pace and start your workout. I’m just thinkin that kinda logic makes no sense, starting over and over again. It’s kinda like being able to lose your job for being late for work one morning, you’d probably get in trouble but your boss wouldn’t send you to HR to do your new hire paperwork again.

And as I shared a while back I don’t want to be anonymous either, not that I can by now but I want everyone I care about to know that I have a severe drinking problem. Here’s what I know, this thing, this thing I’ve been repeating everyday for a year now is working. I have not had one single drink other than my NA beer, which by the way does help me and there are a few really good ones out there with close to real beer flavor just without the alcohol. Couple I really like is Kaliber made by Guinness and Clausthaler which is a German dark brew and the safe bet for your money is the O’douls Amber great taste and a good price. If you don’t give a shhhht about taste and are short on cash try the Busch NA it’s pretty cheap so don’t expect a lot. It’s like drinking flat tonic water… it is what it is. Hey it’s kept me sober so no complaint here. My old ALCOHOL cravings just aren’t around any longer, not even close. So I feel very confident I finally have a lid on this one. This process so far has worked for me, however my program may not work for you, my goal is to stay SOBER and that should be yours.

* Admit to yourself you can’t go on the way you are living and that you are an addict/alcoholic and you are unable to do this alone. Now I suggest you get help from someone who’s trained in addiction counseling or some other group that sponsors positive and uplifting meetings. Healing is a process, it’s not a race, this will take time.

* Make a change now, today like right now, whatever you’re doing today stop and just do the opposite tomorrow and the next day and the day after that, the next day after that. Repeat that every week for each month of your first year of sobriety. You keep on course and stay clean to the best of your ability and don’t look back.

* Tell everyone that you want to continue to hang out with that you have a serious drug/drinking problem and you’ll need their support to help you through this journey. Let folks know. I told my doctor who invited me to his church. There I found a resource group where I met a bunch of men I could talk and share with. Everyone’s got a story, we all need positive influences that will replace our old habits. Man feel blessed you’ve been given this chance, this second chance to prove to yourself you are worth it.