It's been some time since I've logged on here. I thought about this forum as it is Tuesday and plan on attending a SMART meeting tonight. I wanted to share what I wrote on my one year anniversary. I'm still sober and since then have entered into an amazing relationship with a fellow recovering alcoholic/addict. Things are going well...anywho, here is what I wrote on Dec 4th 2018 (my one year of sobriety):

1 year of sobriety.

A quote keeps coming to mind from the movie "Full Metal Jacket":

"The dead only know one thing: it is better to be alive!"

In the deep throws of my alcoholism, in a lot of ways I was already dead (or the very least, in a coma with no hope of resuscitation). Getting sober, however impossible it seemed at the time, would be better. Anything is better than waking up in piss, **** and puke. The only goal of the day is to drink something to stop the pain, sweats and shakes. Death was sitting me and he was patient.

One year ago today, I was not in good shape. Having been to the hospital already for a seizure, at my wits end and desperate, I called on friends for help. Seeing as these are the same friends that had already taken me in after I got out of treatment, helped me back on my wasn't an easy phone call. That's right, I've been here before (2 years ago), so sick from the drink I went to medical detox for a week and then a month long stint in a rehabilitation centre. I had it made; great job and a lovely place I was renting. There was only one thing missing; my old friend alcohol.

Short story of a hellish year - I screwed it all up and ended up in the same mental winter I was in before rehab (but worse). I should have gone to detox but I decided to ride it out. That was dumb and ended up with me taking a seizure in front of my friends complete with spitting blood out of my mouth (chomped down on my tongue). I can't imagine how awesome that was for them especially when the ambulance was taking me away in a very quiet suburb (where everyone knows everyone).

I think in the back of everyone's head (my non alcoholic friends) they have a question for me: Why? Why did you decide to start drinking again after rehab when you got your **** back together. I can answer that: I'm an alcoholic and that is my nature. I remember my mindset that day. I was officially moving into my new place (I had already been working for some time). It was a sunny day and I was playing Minecraft waiting for my friends son to help me move a few odds and ends and drop me to my new home.

The idea "popped" into my head, very out of the blue, that I would buy a half mickey of vodka. I viewed it as a "science experiment". Yes, a science experiment to see how it would feel now that I was sober and doing quite well. What could possibly go wrong? Certainly this would be the only time. I mean, I had completed rehab (4.5 steps out of 12) I was sober, great job, great place, everyone was so proud of me and this would be a one time thing. Just once.

I was dropped off, waited to see the truck drive around the corner and headed down the hill to where the liquor store was. I remember my heart beating out of my chest because I knew this was so very wrong (was I really doing this?). Oh yes you ******* are, remember Matt, it's just a science experiment and just this once. My heart was also beating because what if someone saw me? My hat was pulled down tight and I bought it. My pace nearly a jog, I made it back to my place and set it on the counter. Oh my god there it was, my old dear friend. A nano seconds pause of sanity (summarily dismissed just as fast) and the lid came off and that first guzzle of vodka. Wow. The effect was immediate and there is no need to explain the details of how bad it got save to say it got bad, really bad. Day by day I put myself back into hell. Hell.

What I am about to write now is only from my experience and I'm not a doctor; I'm just a lifelong alcoholic/addict in recovery (today anyway, who knows about tomorrow). You can go to detox. You can go to rehab. You can do the 12 steps twenty times over. You can read countless volumes of literature. You can have sponsors. Pray until Jesus/Thor/Flying Spaghetti Mosnter can't stand you anymore. You will never get sober, ever, until you find that place where you absolutely know you can't ever drink again (no "science experiments", no harm reduction, nothing - pure abstinence). You make a choice: Life or death? Which is it? Try and make it quick too, I can tell you your friends and family are sick of you.

Here are some things I have learned over the years (in point form and in no particular order). Again, this is only from my experience, I'm not a doctor/counsellor:

- AA is not for everybody (especially if you're atheist like me). AA is a default and the microsoft of recovery programs. "Ahhh you are an alcoholic....go to AA". Well, screw that. Do the research, there are plenty of options. I finally chose SMART Recovery; a secular non 12 step program.

- Just because you got sober doesn't mean it's all rainbows and unicorns. Once that "pink cloud" pops the real work begins. Enjoy being miserable for a couple months (oh and don't pick up).

- Being a dry drunk is a real thing. Hey, you're sober now, you don't need to repeat those same behaviours you had as a drunk. Learn to unlearn and modify. Once you understand that freedom, I guarantee you will smile. I have never felt such liberation - only someone in recovery will understand this euphoria. Don't ever let it go, know you can do anything you want now (except drink, sorry).

- Triggers: If you want to hide away from the world and just go to meetings because you're afraid you might use again, that's up to you. It's not really living is it? Get out there!! Slowly at first but get out there and experience the world sober. It's not as boring as you think without a mickey in your pocket.

- Hold a mock funeral and grieve! You literally just lost the love of your life. You will grieve this loss and you will grieve hard and long (I still am).

- Your addiction is not a disease. It's not.

- Shame. Ahh shame. Nothing will open a bottle of liquor faster. Find a way to deal with it. You'll want prioritize this.

- Enjoy the addict voice in your head..... forever. The addict is inside of you and will never go away until the day you die. It's doing push ups outside your door getting ready for you. It will take you back with open arms, without question..... which leads me to my next point. True that it's voice quiets in time but think of it as a radioactive isotope half life (it truly never dies).

- There is no one road to recovery - don't let anyone ever tell you that. Make the choice to live, do the research and find your own path. Maybe it is AA or maybe dancing naked around a shrine of Hello Kitty (whatever keeps you sober).

Finally I want to say this: To all of the AA people that said to me that I can't do this without God/higher powers, without spirituality, without the 12 steps: Screw you. Seriously, screw you all. All that did was add conflict. I can't imagine how many atheists/agnostics/freethinkers/non religious/non christians have walked through those doors and have walked right back out. From my experience (and I've been to lots of meetings, in different cities) AA is very much a "Jesus only" club and if you're not with "the program" you can expect people telling you point blank you will fail (Enter the AA apologist here). I did it. I did it one year without God(s), without spirituality (whatever the hell that is - I can't even grasp the concept - nor do I want to). Look, I understand AA does work for some but it needed to be addressed for those of us who don't do the supernatural.

A long chapter of my life is now closed and a new one is being written. I will remain vigilant of my addiction (not disease) and live the rest of my days as a sober man. Yeah, I'm only one drink from going back to where I was but I have a crisp clean twenty dollar bill that I would bet that I'll be sober tomorrow too. I just got tired of it, bored really. Bored of killing myself and living in insanity.