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What 13 Years Of Sobriety Has Taught Me By An Anonymous Recovering Alcoholic

Posted Sep 28 2008 8:16pm

I just celebrated and toasted my thirteenth year of sobriety and I did it with ice tea! There was a time when any celebration would have meant a few glasses of 12 year old scotch but not anymore! The feeling of gratefulness because of my freedom from alcohol is as powerful 13 years later as it was 4,748 days ago!

Well that’s not quite accurate since I was as sick as a breathing man could be at the time but still I’m as happy now as a pig in a puddle. Unless you have been shackled by the bonds of an alcohol addiction and the hopelessness you feel you may not understand the feeling of exuberance I have.

When you are addicted to alcohol you care about little else in your life except your next drink and where it will come from. Do you have enough alcohol to last until the next day? Do I have any pressing engagements coming up I need to make an excuse to avoid? This vicious cycle just repeats itself everyday of your drinking career and even gets worse over time. Nothing else is as important. Not your family, your job, your health; all are secondary priorities to that next drink.

Since I’ve been paroled from that particular prisoner’s nightmare that was alcoholism I’ve been able to look back on the insanity that was my life. I’ve tried to gain some durable understanding of my past behavior in the hope that I can learn and proselytize to others who are no doubt in as much trouble as I once was.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned in sobriety:

• If you have caring loved ones in your life cherish them and respect their best wishes for you. If they have concerns for you and express those worries don’t shut them out regardless of your state of mind or theirs. It’s just possible they are trying to save your life. Try listening for a change and don’t be selfish and obstinate, keep an open mind.

• If you need help ask for it. Don’t be afraid of what people will think of you, there is absolutely no shame in someone needing assistance at various points in their life. If you can’t ask family or friends for help pick up the phone and ask a priest or minister, seek professional help online anonymously or just ask your doctor for help. This is what these people do and they will totally understand and respond immediately with positive, actionable ideas to guide you.

• Life is going to carry on with or without you. You are merely a passenger given a divine ticket to live and enjoy your life. This ticket you’ve been given comes with some caveats and responsibilities and you must heed them. Moderation is the key to everything in this existence and the sooner one recognizes this fact, the better chance they will have of enjoying themselves on the journey. If you think you’re enjoying the trip a bit too much well, you probably are. Try exercising some mature self control early on over your wants and desires.

• Stress will kill you. Maybe not directly but certainly indirectly through self medication, anger issues, worry, certain health problems you never realized existed until your doctor tells you have it. Don’t do this to yourself. Learn to relax more and enjoy a sunrise or sunset with a loved one. When your life and sanity are threatened by stress induced self destructive behavior or circumstance, you are now on a path you don’t want to be on. Take life as it comes and don’t sweat the small stuff.

• I wish someone who I trusted back in the early days of my drinking life would have taken me aside and said “I’ve noticed you seem to be drinking more than usual, be very careful where that may lead to. You have way to much promise to waste it all on a drinking problem”. This would have planted a seed in my brain much sooner and maybe, maybe I would have used common sense while I still had some left, to save myself. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you think it will help someone.

• I’ve also learned that guilt is nothing more than wasted spirit. As ashamed and guilty as I felt when I stopped drinking, having let so many people down, no one suffered for it more than I did. Forgiving me was very important. Asking for forgiveness was meant to help me and I never should have expected understanding from some people from whom forgiveness was asked. Taking it so hard when I heard their negative reactions to my heartfelt pleas of forgiveness only set my emotional recovery back and it didn’t need to happen.

• I need to always be cognizant of the fact that my next drink will probably be my death sentence, so therefore NO next drink. Period! Ever! As long as I’m sober right now, and can remain sober the rest of this day, I can start all over again tomorrow.

• As I’ve grown older in my recovery I’ve learned that thoughtful contemplation is a worthy step in making decisions. I don’t have to make decisions immediately. I can think about things and do what’s best for me and mine. If I don’t have time to think about something then I need to reassess its value to me.

• Being Grateful every moment of every day to my higher power who I’m convinced gave me another chance to make my mark on this journey through life with my divine ticket.

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