It took a little while, I’d say the first 100 or so days to really figure out for myself how/if this new lifestyle choice would work. Once I got through that quite honestly it’s been easy. I’m not saying that to brag at all, but I truly rarely find being sober “hard” like I read so much about. I miss the community it afforded me, and the people but not much beyond that. Getting used to being around drunk people or drinking people is still a challenge for sure. I didn’t follow the 12 steps, or even go to any meetings. I explored them, to see if they would be a fit for me but ultimately both of the types had two fundamentally opposing views of sobriety, neither of which I could get behind or subscribe to. I knew this was a journey that I had to take on my own if it was going to work.
AA, while full of a number of potentially useful tools to maintain sobriety essentially requires you to give in to god, and render yourself not worthy. Quite frankly, that is horseshit. I have no intent to offend, and I’m super glad that works for you if you have/need religion but I don’t buy it. I don’t believe in god in the same way I don’t believe in the Easter bunny. It’s a great story, but not a real one. Simple as that. However, there are 3 steps that do/did work for me. I continue to reflect on these every single day.
• Step 1 - ….that our lives had become unmanageable
• Step 8 – made a list of all persons we had harmed, and become willing to make amends to them
• Step 10 – continued to take personal inventory, and when we are wrong, promptly admit it
Those 3 steps speak to me, and I’m thankful to have them. Although, I mostly subconsciously reflect upon them they do help me in building a strong moral foundation free from impairments of any kind.
I also investigated, and nearly went to a “SMART” meeting. This is a lesser known alternative to AA, one that is free from religion, and focuses in part on the science of addiction and how to combat it. This program has 4 program “points” (not steps) and they are:
• 1: Building and Maintaining Motivation
• 2: Coping with Urges
• 3: Managing Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors
• 4: Living a Balanced Life
Again, some excellent points that I’ve incorporated into my own solo hybrid approach to sobriety and my own journey on recovery. Once again however, the overall “program” is not what I think or thought I needed. I will certainly consider it should I ever suffer any unexpected relapse or similar.
So in a world where it’s only god or science, I felt I simply needed to examine myself and my choices. My recovery is reflecting on my behaviors, and my obsessions. I look to the past to learn my future to some degree. I am not powerless or weak, or a slave to my desires and addiction. Drinking is a choice, and not drinking is also a choice. It’s as simple as that. I looked at it with logic, like you might in math. Examining my behavior and history with alcohol, combined with the hereditary implications of alcoholism in my family it just made simple sense to return to a state where I had none. Much like an old Windows operating system, restore to the “last known good” when my shit wasn’t broken!
Perhaps that is an oversimplification, but it was just something that had to be done. There really was not another option that made sense. I tried to “cut back” before, and that failed miserably. I took breaks, moderated etc… only to fall back on to my binge drinking behaviors.
The hardest part of recovery for me isn’t not drinking, it’s coping with the shit I used to drink to cover up. Anxiety, depression, abandonment, etc.. I KNOW that those things aren’t going away, and now I don’t have the option to drown them in absurdly priced craft beer. Nor can I lean on my former friend Jack Daniels, and his lady Ginger. They just aren’t options.
What I can do, is examine those “faults” by learning more about myself, my history, my desires, and try my best to grow with and through them. I know now that those are just part of me, they don’t define me. I can be depressed and still enjoy my life by learning how to manage that stuff. Everything has a solution, which is why I “try” not to worry about them. I used to let “feelings” rule me, debilitating me until I had no recourse but to shut it down with booze. Of course, I was quite good at this and looking back I hid it pretty well under the veil of “beer geek” and I know I’m not alone on that.
Finding new ways to fill time is a ton of fun. It took a while but I'm back to things that once brought me pleasure but were tossed aside so I could stand in line for a beer (how fucking dumb is that?) I love hobbies, and probably have more than I need but that is another problem all together. I'll figure it out.
While I haven’t attended any meetings, I have been able to find that I’m not alone. I never knew just how many people I would impact, or encounter through my recovery. I find being open and sharing like this is my way of dealing with it, and often people will reach out to me completely out of thin air to say I was able to help them, or that they saw some of their story through mine. That is the most beautiful unintended result of this whole experience. I hope that I can help more people by sharing. I’ve filled my bookshelf with stories from folks like Duff McKagen, and Nikki Sixx. I follow inspirational organizations like “SoberMovement” on Instagram and the like. Many of the heroes I grew up with (often in music/movies are open and share their stories of recklessness and debauchery.) James Hetfield, Clint Lowery, and many others. For whatever reason, I find all that helps. Sharing, and knowing I’m in this together with people my age, in my profession, and beyond has been more powerful than I could have imagined.
Bottom line, everyone needs to find what works for them. The common thread among folks in recovery is that they (we) need to be open to learning about ourselves, and others. Find what is really behind the behaviors, and examine the root cause. That is different for everyone, and the path to recovery and a happy life is as well. I’m thrilled to have found my way back to that, and look forward to exploring it in the years ahead.
PS – To everyone that has helped along the way, offered to go to meetings, messaged me, encouraged me, or reached out to me. Thank you, I find strength through YOU.
Sober since: 01/13/2015