I once heard a sober alcoholic say that drinking never made him happy, but it made him feel like he was going to be happy in about fifteen minutes. That was exactly it, and I couldn’t understand why the happiness never came, couldn’t see the flaw in my thinking, couldn’t see that alcohol kept me trapped in a world of illusion, procrastination, paralysis. I lived always in the future, never in the present. Next time, next time! Next time I drank it would be different, next time it would make me feel good again. And all my efforts were doomed because already drinking hadn’t made me feel good in years. – Heather King, “Parched: A Memoir”
A few years ago, I woke up one morning, reached for the half-empty whiskey glass on my nightstand and with both trembling hands, took my first drink of the day. Even in my drunkest moments, late at night, falling (literally) into my pit of a bed, I would make the effort to leave that glass there, with at least 2 mouthfuls of liquor. Ready for the morning. Maybe my landlord thought I was just a harmless alcoholic because by then, I was 3 months late on the rent. I’d lost my job, my family had pretty much disowned the man I had become and so, I suppose, my landlord took pity on me. He finally kicked me out a week later. My childhood sweetheart had long since gone and my only friends were fellow drunks down at the local bar. Yep, that was my miserable life – a few years ago.
I knew I was an alcoholic. “I may be drunk but I ain’t stupid,” I used to say. Yes, I was 100% alcoholic and my blood was probably 100% proof as well. Yet I just carried on, living (if you could call it that) my miserable existence, day in, day out. But as I said, that was a few years ago. Just over 5 years, in fact. And now…
I am sober. I was a drunk and I still am, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that this drunk chooses to live his life now as a sober man, free of alcohol and all that it brought me – pain, hurt, grief, depression, and severe ill-health. Yes, I can stand on my own 2 feet today and shout it from the rooftops if I wanted – not that anyone would be listening, of course. But I listen to myself, every single day, my thoughts and feelings, my situation now, what’s happening around me. I can take it all in. With a sober mind. For that very reason, my sobriety is the most precious thing in my life. No woman can take its place, no love for something else, no family or friends. It’s the #1 thing in my life and, if I want my life is to continue as it has for these last 5 years, it will remain so. For that reason, I have written this article – to share with you the 5 reasons my sobriety is still so precious to me.
I listen to myself, every single day, my thoughts and feelings, my situation now, what’s happening around me. I can take it all in. With a sober mind. For that very reason, my sobriety is the most precious thing in my life.
1. I Got My Life Back
Alcoholism strips you bare. It takes it all and keeps coming back for more. If I listed everything I had lost because of this disease, I feel like I’d be writing forever. My life 5 years ago was this: family estrangement, legal problems, sacked from a well-paid job, and physical and mental hell (and I am not exaggerating). Bottom line, a sad, miserable attempt to get through life.
And today, as a sober man? My family has welcomed me back into the fold, my legal issues have been resolved, I have my own business now as a picture-framer, and my state of health is unrecognizable from what it once was (both physically and mentally). I am even married with a young son and another one on the way. But the best thing? I am sober – I’m here, right here, right now, living in the present.
2. I Worked So Hard For It
Alcohol detox is the hardest thing I have ever done – period. Withdrawal is excruciating – the tremors, the vomiting, the crying, the helplessness (and yes, I was screaming too). When those symptoms subside, you feel lost, like an alien just arrived on Earth. What followed was this:
- 12 weeks of rehab
- A further 30 weeks as a rehab outpatient
- Every Alcoholics Anonymous meeting I could get to
- The “12-Steps” (several times)
- Rebuilding my life – somewhere to live, a job, new (sober) friends
3. I’m Still Working Hard For It
Alcoholism is not a disease with a cure. There is no ultimate recovery, just continuing recovery. So, every day, I continue to work for my sobriety. It keeps me focused on what is important and I know that if I relapse, all of these wonderful things now present in my life will simply vanish along with my sobriety itself.
4. It’s A Gift – My Gift
Many things in our lives are simply beyond our control. I accept that as much as I do the fact that I will always be an alcoholic. My sobriety is my reward for this acceptance – my gift if you like. And I will fight for it, have no fear on that. I didn’t get here alone. I accept that too. Rehab staff, doctors, therapists, fellow AA people, family, my new friends, my wife and, yes, my son, have all played their part in my ongoing recovery.
5. I Deserve It
Whoever we are in life, we are all human. We make mistakes, we take wrong decisions. I trust the better part of me will never take a drink again, yet I am aware of the risk of relapse. Just because of my bad choices of the past, it doesn’t mean that I do not deserve the chance of happiness, to live a good, loving and rewarding life. That right belongs to us all. We all deserve that chance.
This Precious Gift…
I am who I am. I am an alcoholic in recovery. I will always be a drunk, but I endeavor to live this life as a sober man. Sobriety has given me my life back (a new and far better one, in fact), I worked hard to get here and I will continue to work hard, and it is a gift I deserve. If you are in recovery, what makes it so precious to you? Please feel free to place a comment below.
One day at a time, my friend. One day at a time.