A topic that I’ve mentioned previously has been cropping up a lot lately in meetings (or maybe I’m just noticing it more). I’ve been paying more and more attention to my elder statesmen, especially those who have shared about the back-and-forth battles they fought between active addiction & sobriety. These stories often cover the span of decades. And 0% of the time were they positive or uplifting.
No, what purpose they really serve is to remind me that others have lived out the life I would have, had I not consciously altered my path. That’s not to say I will never fall victim to it – life is managed one day at a time, and no one can know what tomorrow will bring. Relapses do happen. But I have no intention of allowing that to be a part of my recovery. I value my clean time and each 24 hours that I add to it. I have no desire to reset that clock to Zero Days.
The more I hear these people share their stories of ruined lives, the more clear the distinction between the paths I could follow in the rest of my life becomes. If I commit to sobriety, life can expand to new heights almost exponentially. Work a decent job. Pay off my loans and debts. Get promoted. Move to a new city. Take time to travel the world. Complete any one of my formerly listed ’23 Goals.’ Get married. Buy a house. Start a family. The list goes on.
“I’ve kicked the habit /
Shed my skin /
This is the new stuff /
I go dancing in, we go dancing in”
Umphrey’s covering “Sledgehammer” at Red Rocks may well just be the height of epic.
The inverse is also true – going back out to ‘test the waters’ means putting myself at risk of drowning. Days, months, weeks, years will be wasted – literally and figuratively. Life will be a hazy transition back and forth between vodka tonics on a bar stool and cups of coffee in church basements. I might foolishly take a wife, who in all likelihood would be an alcoholic herself. I know myself well enough that if I did choose to go back out, I would seek a like-minded companion who would also act as an enabler.
My biggest fear would be for my child(ren). Much the same way I view divorce as something I never, ever want to put my kids through, I also do not ever wish them to see me at the mercy of the bottle. They will grow up without me, and resent me for any myriad of reasons (rightfully so). It’s one thing for me to face my own demons when they affect only me, but to willingly drag a family that I mindfully created and lovingly care for is both selfish and unfair.
I do feel blessed for this vision, in a way. It has become apparent to me that many of peers have only minimal insight as to what their futures might hold, and are scared shitless at this looming uncertainty. These feelings are not without warrant; economic stability is shaky the world over, and with each day that goes by in my transition into adulthood, I learn more and more of the evils of man & how deep the greed and corruption truly runs. But many people in their young 20’s (Generation Internet, as I like to refer to us) have approximately zero direction forward, and the prospect of failing miserably in life can be a cause of great stress & anxiety.
For me, life success is measured very differently, and much more simply: don’t drink. I am confident (to a fault, even) that everything will fall into place around that. I am grateful beyond words for the financial and emotional support my family has shown me; I do not think I would have made it this far without them. Outside of that, I possess a fair level of common sense, am intuitive in my ability to connect with people, and know how to hustle the game. Dealing with alcoholism is so serious and monumental that other life worries become significantly less daunting. Days will continue to go on, 24 hours at a time.
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