“Sobriety is the most important thing in my life. I may believe my job or my home life come first, but I must remember – if I don’t get sober and stay sober, chances are I won’t have a job, a family, or even life itself. If I am convinced that everything in my life depends on my sobriety, I have a better chance of getting sober and staying sober.”
~ Richard Kane, The Bronx Street Kid: Into 12 Step Recovery
Once upon a time, I was a drunk.
I said that wrong – I’m STILL a drunk, but I no longer drink. I know that I am just one drink away from losing everything that I worked so hard for over the past seven years. And, because I just passed my 7th Sober Birthday, I’ve been thinking about what sobriety means to me and why I value it so much.
My Sobriety Is Priceless Because It Gave Me My Life Back
I simply cannot overstate how much I lost because of my drinking and how much more I have regained in the years since I went to rehab and got sober
This was my life seven years ago:
- Mental and Physical Hell
- Estrangement from my family
- Legal trouble
- I couldn’t keep a job
- A dirty, desperate daily existence
Every day, if I didn’t start drinking almost immediately after I woke up, I would be so unwell that I was unable to function.
But here’s the point – once I started drinking, I would be so unwell that I was unable to function.
And how is my life today?
- I am mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy.
- I am remarried and have a great relationship with my teenage son.
- I haven’t had more than a traffic ticket in years.
- I own my own business.
- I am serene in my daily life.
Best of all, because I am not drinking, I am present and able to live my own life.
My Sobriety Is Priceless Because I Worked for It
Getting to this point wasn’t easy, especially in the beginning – I went through horrible withdrawal during alcohol detox – shaking, puking, crying, screaming.
I’m not ashamed to talk about it now, because, in some ways, it was like the pain of childbirth, because I was something of a newborn those first few days without alcohol – weak, and needing to relearn how to live.
Then my real work began –
- Two months of residential treatment
- Four months of Intensive Outpatient rehab
- Every Alcoholics Anonymous meeting – I did my “90 meetings in 90 days” and more
- Working the 12 Steps again and again
- Trying to make up for the pain and the lost time that my drinking had caused
- Rebuilding the rest of my life from scratch – finding a new job, a new place to live, making new friends, etc.
I had over a year sober before it finally hit me that I was actually starting to live like “normal” people.
My Sobriety Is Priceless to Me Because I STILL Work at It
I’m not foolish enough to think that I’m “cured”. Far from it.
I still have bad days where, even after all this time, I feel the urge – just for a second – to deal with stress and frustration the way I used to. That’s when I hit a meeting.
And, sometimes, I wonder if maybe – just maybe – I might be able to drink again, this time like other people. That’s when I hit a meeting.
Early on in recovery, it was drilled into my head that my disease of alcoholism was incurable. Every day, I have to take real steps to safeguard the sober life that I have built over the past seven years.
Over the years, I have put in so much work that it is just not worth it to me to risk it all by taking another drink.
My Sobriety Is Precious to Me Because It Is a Gift
But for all the work I did in recovery, and for all the work I continue to do every day, I am fully aware that I did not get to this point on my own.
I am an alcoholic.
I am also human.
Those two facts mean that I have weaknesses and character defects that can stand in the way of the things I want to do with my life. It also means that there are so many things beyond my control that it is a verified miracle that I am writing this today.
This tells me that whatever measure of successful sobriety I have achieved is largely due to forces outside of and greater than myself – my Higher Power, the professionals who helped me in rehab, my fellow AA members, and the other people who have loved and supported me along the way.
Today, I will not take a drink – not just because it would mean betraying myself, but also because it would mean showing a profound lack of gratitude for the gift that I have been given.
I’m still a drunk…but I’m sober.
And that’s priceless.