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  1. #1

    Default About to Celebrate My Five Year Anniversary

    Hello all...

    Five years sober (soon)!

    The longest relationship of my life is the one I’ve had with my sobriety, and honestly... I’m quite ok with that.

    As of January, I’ll have half a decade between me and the first day I woke up in my seventh detox in half as many years, and for whatever reason... that one stuck. There was nothing special about it; same hospital, same floor, same sounds, sights and smells, same food, same routine. But I think the main difference was me. Twenty-four hours prior I had just gotten home after seeing my guy and stopping for a handle of rotgut vodka- I was ready to settle in for a rare night of relaxation and not being sick. It definitely ended up being a rare night, but not in the way I was expecting. As I laid in my bed and started flipping through tv channels, the little voice in the back of my head must have finally found a way to get my attention.
    “What the f*ck are you DOING?!”
    I was over ten years into my addiction to alcohol and heroin, and the only thing I was contributing to society at that point was converting oxygen to carbon dioxide. No job, no money, my health was in the toilet, I was alienated from my friends and living in a spare room at my mom’s place (god bless her for not giving up on me). Bit by bit, I had traded the things that made me me for momentary escapes and highs. My guitars, my art supplies, my hiking gear, my photography equipment... all sold or pawned for drug/booze money. So what WAS I doing? Living to die? Resigning myself to an inevitable oblivion? No, not at 28. So for once, I actually listened to that voice. Almost on auto-pilot I packed up some essentials, called a taxi (I wasn’t going to take a bus, too many opportunities to change my mind) and left for the hospital to detox.
    In the ER, and after a long wait, a nurse came in to speak to me. She knew my track-record of failed detoxes and was very blunt when she said that beds in the detox ward were in short supply and nobody was too keen on taking me on if I was just going to relapse and be back in a few months. After telling me my chances of admission were slim to none, she left to grab me some comfort meds (Zofran, clonidine, etc). Aside from foxhole prayers when my dude wasn’t picking up or when I was broke, I wasn’t much of a praying man. But I prayed to whomever would listen, ‘please... please don’t let them send me away’. Well, someone must have be listening because when the nurse came back she said, ‘I’m sticking my neck out for you, and you’re getting one more chance. Don’t make me regret it’. Bursting into tears, I hugged her. She was as surprised as I was and things quickly became awkward, but it didn’t matter... I was admitted.
    I did my time, double the normal 3-day detox that most people receive, and I did it with a heart full of hope. I was finally looking at this as a way out, as opposed to some clean time and a chance to cut back or use/drink in moderation. And I was determined to make something out of the decade plus that I lost to this issue. There was a silver lining somewhere, and dammit... I was going to find it someday.
    Discharge day came and went, and I came home with a sense of purpose that I haven’t felt in ages. Sure, I didn’t feel great physically and my mind was in a fog... but that didn’t matter. I was better off than I’ve been in over a decade, and I rode that wave. Yeah, the insomnia and cravings were maddening, but I fought through. My body was weak, and every little bump or bruise sent waves of pain rushing through my body as my brain was learning to release dopamine and endorphins on its own again, but something inside me was pushing me forward. I was getting up at 7am to go for walks instead of going to buy dope. After a few weeks I was doing odd-jobs for money to buy clothes or things for the house, instead of booze or dope. I was going downtown, not to score, but to go to outpatient. I was, however, playing my addiction close to my chest, for fear of judgement and losing the ground I was gaining. Soon I landed a job helping out at a local community center and worked my way up to assistant director. We often had clients come in with substance abuse issues, and I began helping them find treatment if they wanted it. Still keeping relatively tight lipped about my own past, I helped where I could and left it at that. But as time went on I would start sharing more and more anecdotal experiences when I thought it would help someone, and by chance a local advocacy group took notice. They offered me a chance to volunteer and gave me a platform to share my story, and reach a larger crowd with my message of hope and after a lot of soul-searching I took it. If coming clean about my past meant that I could possibly prevent even one person from going through the hell that I went through, it was worth it. So I began speaking. I’ve spoken at small gatherings, national and regional conventions, days of remembrance and public awareness events. I went from being the neighborhood drunk to a literal face on a billboard for sobriety. I had found my silver lining. And surprisingly, I was met with praise instead of animosity or judgement. After effectively spending my entire active addiction focused solely on myself and my own selfish needs, I was giving back and it was a better feeling than any high I’ve ever experienced (as cliche as that may sound).
    I have since moved on from the community center, though I still volunteer there from time to time. Now I’m following my passion of working in medicine at a local hospital, I have my own house (complete with a rather nice music/art studio) and for once I’m actually looking forward to the future. The road here was far from easy... I buried far too many friends who lost their battles with addiction, I was unable to mend many of the bridges I burned during my active use, and in a cruel twist of fate I lost my mother to liver disease last year (the way my doctors expected me to check out). Plenty of opportunities to relapse, but in the end... it would have been plenty of excuses to use a temporary escape for a long-term issue. I remained steadfast.
    I’m thankful every day for my sobriety, and I don’t take a second of it for granted. I remember every lesson I’ve learned, the good and the bad, and most of all I remember how quickly and easily I could end up right back where I started. Just like driving a car- no matter how straight the road seems, I’m constantly making minor corrections, watching my speed, minding the potholes, staying aware and checking the rear-view from time to time.
    it’s too much of a trope to say ‘if I can do it, anyone can’, but what I will say is that everyone has that one moment of clarity. It may not be as loud as mine (or it may be louder), but eventually that little voice inside everyone will speak up. Listen to it. Sometimes we’re too close to the situation to see the bigger picture. Like standing a few inches from a painting... sure, we can see one one little aspect or one little piece of detail, but that voice can see everything. That voice knows and sees all, it’s been keeping a running tally for our whole life, and it knows where we’ve been and where we’re going. Sometimes we can’t hear it or simply refuse to listen, but it’s always there and every once in a while (despite our best efforts to keep it quiet) it’s able to cut through all the bullsh*t long enough to get our attention and change the course we’re on.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Upstate NY
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    Default

    Beautiful story! Congrats on 5 years!

  3. #3
    Gordon1's Avatar
    Gordon1 is offline SMART MB Co-Liaison
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    Default

    Wonderful
    Thankyou so much for sharing your inspirational journey

  4. #4

    Default

    Congratulations. I am back to day one and have been fighting this for years. In and out of treatment and went to detox once. I am fearful for my health. Thanks for sharing.

  5. #5
    Gordon1's Avatar
    Gordon1 is offline SMART MB Co-Liaison
    SMART Online Moderator
    SMART Online Facilitator
    Former SMART Face to Face Facilitator
    Former SMART Online Meeting Liaison
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,162

    Default

    Hi champsammy13,

    Please consider the SMART Handbook and attending a weekly meeting or two - or doing a daily check-in in the forums.

    At SMART I am not required to be "back to day one" and am able to add to my previous tally of sobriety.

    Or I might count any way I find empowering. Even two or more counts at the same time. Go you!
    What got me sober was TRYING to get sober. Often when I lapsed, picked up, drank, I FELT thoroughly beaten. I thought at that time "there is no hope for me" Yet, when I had recovered from that thought just a little, I thought "I'll have another GO!" It was a few little sparks, rather than a flame, that got me here!

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