To everyone I’ve hurt, I’m sorry. To everyone I’ve not hurt, wow, we’ve been lucky. Each year as I celebrate my milestone, friends offer congratulations on many years of sobriety. It always feels a little weird. I’ve been asked what was my break-through moment, or action?
I struggle to find a short simple or scintillating answer: For the alcoholic, not-sober is obviously self-destructive to liver, brain cells and dreams. And life. It destroys them all …
Twenty-nine years since that day have been difficult times in many ways, but the staying sober part has been a bit of a skate. And December 7th, wasn’t that difficult either. As for the six months preceding December 7th, that’s a different matter … those six or so months, were the worst of times I can recall. Things got better.
Here’s my long version …
When I woke, twenty-nine years ago today, wasn’t much different than any other morning in those months leading to it. Normal, in that I left the house, went to the office before my kids got up and came home for dinner. Each day, that same monkey on my back – that ‘would I drink today? After dinner, I sat down with my glass of old friend Ron Bacardi Gold and Coke, watched news, watched Jeopardy. Put down that glass. Left it there, on the table, half-done.
I remember that action, putting it down – see myself doing it, see the glass, see the room.
But, had I really quit? Pervasive fear, daily, would I stay sober?
First few days, weeks, weren’t difficult in terms of urge to drink.
When I write about or speak about these events, about that time, and about being an alcoholic I know some people read it or hear it as me tooting my horn or seeking attention. There is some of that in so many things I do I would be a fool to deny their criticism, but here is the difference – each time I write about these issues, each time I speak about them, I find at least someone in the audience reaches out to confirm that the message mattered to them. I’ve had three people I know of tell me my words saved their life. And, as BT pointed out to me once, I wasn’t doing the math right, because it’s four. I wasn’t counting myself.
I’m still a very imperfect flawed, and dare I say typical/ordinary, man. Being sober doesn’t solve a life, but in my case it saved one.
Could be argued those many changes weren’t directly connected to my drinking, but those arguments fail. All connected – lifestyle, divorce, economics, child-rearing, relationships of every kind – all changed. Mostly for better. Some a little. Some a lot. Dreams again. Not just day time dreams, but real dreams. Alcohol suppresses dream sleep. I got dreams back, got my life back.
Being sober one day, or every day, doesn’t solve any of life’s problems or prevent them from coming. They keep coming. Sober doesn’t bring new skills to the fore or make us more clever in dealing with them. Sober only does one thing in terms of problem solving – it provides an alternative to death. Sober ears hear, sober brains think, sober is just that sober.
More better fine.
written / published from Calgary, AB
morning walk: -2C/28F, a few clouds bunched on the horizon produced a colour show of magenta and gunmetal gray you could not paint. Gusta pulling hard in every direction, I’m anxious to get on with my busy day … so our walk was fast. And short …
Congratulations on your sobriety! , SP, Calgary, AB
What did tip the scale for you, Mark...It sounds like the 6th was your entry into sobriety 29 years ago. You don't have to answer if too private, SF, Lethbridge, AB
Wow, that takes courage to share this in the way you have. The incredible positive, upbeat attitude that spills over into your writings certainly do not hint (although I am a fairly new reader) of this struggle. Perhaps now that you have shared it in this way you can consider it fully released. All the best, JLB, Canmore, AB