Former Addictive Behavior: Alcohol
Abstinent Since 2006
“Success is a Choice”
That’s the headline in an ad I just saw in Canadian Geographic magazine. It’s a money-raising pitch for the Canadian Amputee Hockey Team. The magazine gives two pages to photos of the players. Guys with no arms stick-handling for the puck. Guys with no legs lacing up their skates.
I’ve never even been on ice skates. They are guys with no legs that can skate better than I ever will.
But you think: a7u, you have legs so if you learned to skate, maybe you could end up a better skater than someone with no legs.
Perhaps you’re right. There were long periods I was sure I was trapped in the bottle. I could never be sober. I was going to die a drunk. I tried and tried, but I couldn’t hack it. Others maybe, but not me. Someone with no legs, how could he think he’d ever play ice hockey?
He chooses to.
He does what it takes. He doesn’t expect miracles right away. But he keeps making the choice over and over. Eventually, little miracles start to happen. They begin to accumulate. A day comes when he scores against competitors who want to stop him. They can’t. Five guys and a goalie against a legless man on skates: he scores.
His choices gave him power and control building to a moment he decided to own as he saw fit then take his shot.
I never imagined I could be free of alcohol, at liberty, in control of myself, safe on a new shore with a new heart. I mean literally: it was not in my imagination. My head held no such images. But it is reality now.
Maybe it was nothing but net or maybe the puck caromed or bounced in, but a goal is a goal. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be good. A couple years after I stopped drinking, at work I gave up perfect and settled for good enough. All of a sudden I was getting more done, getting compliments, raises and bonuses, more responsibility. I used to say “good enough” with a sneer. Me, I’m special, I will only accept perfection…which usually meant doing nothing. You mean good enough succeeds? Who knew!?
I had my 6th birthday last week, or maybe it was the week before. I forgot the date. It was near the end of January 2006. In early 2005 I found Anne Fletcher’s Sober for Good, the first glimpse I ever had that there was something other than AA. Following leads in her book, in April 2005 I registered at SMART.
Starting out to learn sobriety sucks. If you need a miracle, keep making that choice for sobriety day after day. Maybe hour after hour. For a few weeks I was making it in 15 minute jumps, scared and miserable. For many black months, lost and alone, I was never sure if I was doing the right thing or the wrong thing.
It was horrible. You too? It will pass, but while you’re in it, learn what you can. Keep your eyes wide open, don’t turn away. Few people travel the kind of country we go through. Once you make it through to other side you may find your priorities are rebuilt deeper on a harder foundation.
In the early days I didn’t know what I was doing, period, except I was “doing” a CBA every waking moment for weeks. A few months ago I found part of it. I couldn’t read past the first two pages. It was unbearable to see my own handwriting describe the relationship I had with alcohol and what I allowed to happen to my self-worth and self-respect. I cared nothing for myself. No-thing. I had dissolved in alcohol.
How can anyone get out of drinking’s abyss of chaos, incoherence, grief, and loss? Inch by inch, by making the same new choices over and over and over. All I wanted was to stop drinking. I didn’t know I’d have to learn sobriety! To get that, do this. Diabolical, it felt then, but now I know only the kindest spirits traveled with me. The same, yours.
I never imagined I could be free of alcohol, at liberty, in control of myself, safe on a new shore with a new heart. I mean literally: it was not in my imagination. My head held no such images. But it is reality now. MY reality, which I own because I decided to do whatever it takes to drive alcohol from my life.
You can do this. Make a choice. Take a stand. Now stand your ground.