A Fool’s Tale
My life has changed so much since I started using the SMART Recovery tools that in many ways the activities I’m engaged in are taking the place of the support I once only found here.
I still remember the night everything changed. My drinking had been grown from a couple of times a week to heavy drinking every day, in part as a way of coping with some very negative things going on in my live. My wife was suggesting I find a new job, one that would require that I get an apartment several hours away and be “home” only a couple of weekends a month. A new job or an early retirement was on the horizon as the writing was on the wall that my future in my current position was bleak. I had an interview lined up and had driven to the town to do a little intelligence gathering. I wasn’t real happy about the prospect of living in two places and the visit deepened that feeling.
I stopped and picked up a half-pint of vodka and continued driving. Drank some more that night and continued to drive. A few hours later I was stopped for speeding; 40 in a 35 if I remember correctly, and instead of waiting in my car as I usually did, got out and tossed the keys on the roof – a act of surrender or a call of help? Pretty sure you can figure out what followed from that point.
Woke up the next morning in the county jail, April Fools Day, 2011. The next few months were pretty rough. That next weekend I had to be in New Orleans for a conference, try spending your first sober weekend in a hotel ½ mile from Bourbon Street. I spent a lot of time in my hotel room reading on SROL. It was that weekend that I did my first CBA (after a kind but firm nudge from a SMART Volunteer). It took a lot of work to rebuild the trust I’d lost with my family, a lot more to learn to accept my past and move on rather than continually reliving it. If not for the resources and the people here not sure I’d have made it.
In the last 18 months I’ve landed my dream job and moved to a town closer to family and friends with more activities I enjoy than I can fit into my day.
One of the things that appealed to me was the prospect of “graduation.” The previous options I’d been offered for recovery seemed to me to be nothing more than continually reliving the “sins of my past” and accepting my failures. A pretty depressing view of recovery, in my humble opinion.
Lots of good things have happened as I learned to about the Stages of Change, Unconditional Self-Acceptance, Hierarchy of Values and the other tools here. The ABC tool is almost automatic know, and I often stop myself as I start to respond to the first emotional reaction to a situation and look at what’s happening rationally. Not perfect and never will be but I’m much happier with my full toolbox. In the last 18 months I’ve landed my dream job and moved to a town closer to family and friends with more activities I enjoy than I can fit into my day. Life still has it rough patches but my “shock absorbers” are much better suited to handle them now and I’m enjoying life each and every day.
Time now to enter my next stage of recovery. When I was drinking I wasn’t taking real good care of myself. The empty calories from the alcohol and the snack food that went with it added pounds I didn’t need. Motivation was pretty low too and trips to the gym didn’t happen. Especially in the early stages of recovery, I rewarded myself with comfort food for the little successes, which didn’t help much either. Time now to work on dropping the unwanted poundage and getting back in shape so I can keep up with the grandkids and more fully participate in all the outdoor activities my wife and I enjoy. It seems to get harder to drop the weight as I get older and I’m still recovering from surgery to repair a long- standing ankle problem but I’m confident that the tools that have served me so well in learning to make the hard choices about my drinking will get me through this next leg of my journey.