Milestone: One Year of Sobriety

After ten years of sobriety and in a throngs of a powerful relapse, I knew there was only one solution. All those years of knowledge and understanding of what could be were begging me to surrender. But I just couldn’t do it alone. Either I was going to die a drunk or I was going to live by getting back to Alcoholics Anonymous. I wanted to live; I feared death.

When I finally got honest with myself, I knew I had enough. Despite one of my drunken stupors, I made a quick decision at 4 a.m. to walk to Elmira, New York from Van Etten, NY to seek shelter and help for my alcoholism. I had no plan – I just packed a bag and began to walking unknown of my future.

Eight hours later after traveling back roads in Chemung County, NY, for more than twenty miles I ended up at Catholic Charities. They couldn’t promise me a bed at the shelter for the night, but recommended I see a chemical dependency program, Trinity of Chemung County. I did what I was told beginning another walk across town.

When I arrived at Trinity, I had no appointment. The lady behind the counter looked at me simply saying, “We’ll get the help you need. Just have a seat”. I spent most of the day there, talking to their staff. They started putting calls in to inpatient treatment centers but didn’t get any quick replies. I spent the night in a shelter and was driven back home by a Peer Advocate the next day, whom I’m in contact with today.

The following week, I was coming back from the gas station after purchasing a 12 pack of Budweiser. I was stopped in my tracks at the crossing of a small river. “You can’t do this. You’re killing yourself. Be done with it.” I remember those words distinctly but didn’t know where they came from – or did I and I actually listened? I took that twelve pack a threw it in the river. When I got home I had a call from Dick Van Dyke (DVD) Addiction Treatment Center in Ovid, NY, they had a bed for me – the next day.

I entered the doors of DVD on September 14, 2018.

What’s the last year been like?

As I experienced with my first sobriety – my whole life has changed. I’m no longer the hopeless soul wandering through life not knowing who I am, where I’m going or my purpose in life. But how did I achieve this?

1.) One Day At A Time

In early sobriety, just not drinking one day was something I struggled with – we all do! Drinking destroyed my life and everything around me. I was on a progressive suicide mission to death every single day. I have to remind myself how I got to where I am today. When I didn’t drink one day at a time, little things got better at first – no hang over, I didn’t have 100 voices talking in my head, I wasn’t alone. I started to appreciate all the little things in my life – I am living life. But that was only a start.

My alcoholism is a disease – there is no cure. While I have not had a drink in a while, it’s just locked up, arrested, and in solitary confinement in the back of my brain just waiting to get back out. Hence, the wording “cunning, baffling and powerful”. If I’m not doing something every day for my sobriety, then I’m in trouble. When I was drinking did anything else matter – weather, my job, friends, family, transportation, etc.? I did want I needed to do, hurt anyone I needed to hurt to get my alcohol. Today, my sobriety comes first in all matters. From my own experience, if I don’t, I’m going to repeat my past which leads back to point one – don’t forget how I got here!

2.) We can’t do this alone! Get involved in your sobriety.

When I came into Alcoholics Anonymous I was hard headed. I didn’t want people to TELL ME what to do. Sometimes I still am a stubborn ass! When people made me go to an AA meeting, I didn’t know what to expect. They told me to come to another after – I still wasn’t sure this whole thing was going to work. But after going to meeting after meeting, I did see something tangible in the rooms – people are happy without drinking? HOW?

I had to listen. Today, I still have to listen to each and every word each person says at a meeting. There is a message for me somewhere – there always is. When I heard “How It Works” over and over, the 12 Steps over and over, and finally the Promises over and over I got a small glimpse of what things could be.

I had to do what they said to do – without question. They said, “Go to meetings, get a Sponsor, go through the Steps and help another alcoholic”, “This is a program of action”, “You have to work for it!”. So I followed their instructions: went to meetings, got a home group, got a coffee commitment, got a Sponsor, went through the Steps and now I’m helping other alcoholics achieve sobriety. It’s truly an amazing life.

3.) Honesty, open-mindedness and willingness

These three words were drilled in me by my first Sponsor. First, you have to be honest with yourself. Do you want to live or do you want to die? We all have two choices – life or death. But also become honest with those around you. If you want to drink, say it. If you’re having a bad day, let someone know. If you’re not honest with the people around you and yourself, how is anyone going to help you? Remember – we can’t do it alone!

If you want to live we have to change what we do. How are we going to change what we do unless we listen to how people other people have changed their lives? Meetings accomplish this as we share our experience, strength and hope with others. It’s a reminder, every day, of where I could go if I drink or where I could be if I don’t drink. We don’t tell people what to do but its heavily “suggested” based on our own experiences. Now the had part.

Actually doing what someone told me, against every fiber in my body, was the hardest thing. But something different happened. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. Often many times when I did what someone else told me to do – it worked! I began to experience the same things they described.

As typical my posts never stay on topic . . . oh well. I could just go on and on – perhaps another day. I hope you can see my enthusiasm in my own sobriety.

A new way of life is possible. Try it!