Practicing Principles in Life

I’m not one to celebrate minor milestones like the eleven months of sobriety I have today. When I turn to quiet introspection of “what it use to be like, what happened and what is like now” for myself, it always happens to be on a monthly anniversary. The world around me has changed drastically in the last month. Most importantly, I have changed. Isn’t that the whole point of sobriety?

The hardest lesson for me during the last eleven months of sobriety is watching ego and pride. Isn’t that what go me here in the first place? I became so selfish and self-centered. Nothing else mattered; I wanted what I wanted, when I wanted it, I wanted it two weeks ago and I would do anything to get it. There was a feeling of entitlement; I deserved it for all the hard work I put in or the pain I went through. Complete and utter BULLSHIT!

After going through the Fourth (4th) Step I began to understand again where I had done. All that guilt, shame, fear, insecurity, etc. was brought to the forefront – again. There were “defects” I didn’t address the last time I was sober. I knew they existed but did nothing about them. This time I have made a point of working on them. Thus I have seen a definite change, a needed change.

As I continue to do what I need for my sobriety, I see others shy away from me. Recently, both roommates have just gotten very distant. Today, I’m actually okay with the whole change of scenery. I’m no longer wanting companionship, approval, friendship from those people who are not allowing me to move forward. They have their own problems. They are walking down their own paths to recovery or relapse. I would offer my help but both are unwilling, close minded and just reverting back to their selfish self-centered behaviors. I don’t want to use the cliche, “Been there, done that” but its true. It lead me to path I never (and don’t have to) ever travel down again.

Today I’m more aware of myself and those around me. It’s important for me to USE to “spiritual tools laid at my feet”. If I don’t, I just have to look at my past. Instead, as instructed, I look at myself and the part I played daily. Had I been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking or afraid? If not, I move on. If so, I know what I need to do immediately. Do I get hurt my others? Yes. However, today I’m not angry or resentful. It is what it is.

I have a sense of peace and serenity in my life. I’m happy to be where I am today. I’m grateful to be alive, sober and “practicing these principles in all my affairs”.

Five (5) Months Sober

Yesterday, I attended a meeting out of town with my Sponsor. In reality, I wanted to have the day to myself. I’ve been to eight meetings of various Fellowships in the last three days plus regular appointments. However, someone reminded me in a meeting one night, “I jump at opportunities, when they are presented, when it comes to my sobriety.” Today, my life is dependent on the following:

“What we really have is a daily reprieve
contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.”
– Alcoholic Anonymous, p. 85

Today, I have a heart of gratitude for the things in my life. While I may be in a temporary situation (a chemical dependency residential program living on state funding for food and shelter), it provides me the opportunity to ensure my foundation of sobriety is firm before I attempt to become a productive human being of society again. I’m thankful for the assistance I receive, the support groups I’m involved in and mostly the new found friendships I have developed in the last five months. But it wasn’t all red roses when I got here.

There are those who are not so fortunate or those who are still in the place I came from, thus I must not forget where I’ve been. Seven months into a relapse, I had almost lost everything a second time. I knew what I must do but I couldn’t because the guilt, shame, fear, etc. was so overwhelming, I did want any alcoholic does – I drank to oblivion!

I was living an insane life. With no job, no transportation, living on my last paycheck completely isolating myself in my home, I was digging my own grave. I was in the midst of this physical allergy to alcohol. From the first drink it created this physical craving; once I started drinking I could not stop no matter what or how many times I tried.

As time went by I developed a mental obsession. Constantly, all I did was obsess about how much alcohol I had, where I was going to get it, when I was going to get it so I didn’t run out, worried whether or not I had enough money to buy some more, planning ways to lie, cheat, steal or manipulate those close to me so I can get my next 12/18 pack. I would do anything to get my next fix!

There was a moment in time when I ran out of money, scared as crap, “Oh My God, how the hell am I going to get my next case of beer?” This time around, my mind wandered to something else – another substance. I knew my old friend had stashes around the house because I had previously found a few. I was on the verge of using other substances because I couldn’t get my beer. That is how desperate I became in my addiction. Sad really.

My last day drunk, I was walking back from the mini-mart where I had just bought a 12 pack. Halfway home I stopped in my tracks on a bridge crossing a river, “I can’t do this anymore!” I looked up and said, “I know I’m not in the best spot to ask right now, but can you help me out?” I don’t know what came over me but I threw the 12 pack in the river and continued home.

When I got home I was a mess crying for at least 30 minutes or more. My phone started to go off. It was a treatment facility I had been talking to about admission to their inpatient program I hadn’t heard of in a week. The person offered me a bed at their facility the next day and had already arranged for a service to pick me up early in the morning. I cried all over again for the next hour or more.

Today, “I don’t regret, my past nor do I shut the door on it” (a 9th Step promise). Soon enough I will have to “face” those things in the past which I must take action. Am I scared? Of course. Will it cause me to drink today? No. There is a time and place for such things to happen but for me it’s not today.

My Sponsor and I are readying the Big Book word for word, another new experience for me. Since November we tried to meet on a weekly basis but life throws us curve balls, otherwise known as “living life on life’s terms”. We just started Chapter 4, “We Agnostics”. So technically I’m starting Step 2. Am I disappointed I’m not further along in the Steps? Absolutely not. I’m right where I need to be today remembering “progress rather than perfection”.

When I woke up, and just a moment ago I told a roommate, I decided I wasn’t going to a meeting today. After writing this, I’m getting off this duff of mine and going to a meeting at noon. Do I need one? Not really. All I have to do is listen. I have the whole rest of the day to do whatever I need. But, as this way of life has shown me time and time again, there is probably going to be a newcomer or someone struggling at the meeting, so I’m probably going to say something because talking to another suffering alcoholic is what keeps me sober today!

An Abundance of Anniversaries

Many of us have busy schedules from Halloween to the New Year. Veteran’s Day (for some), Thanksgiving,  and Christmas are all observed. Parents get uptight around this time of year because the kids are off for Winter break from school. Finally, in rural New York, the deer are rutting (mating), hunting season (shooting) begins, temperatures are beginning to fall and you can smell the sweet pine and oak burning in fireplaces all day long. In addition, I celebrate four anniversaries myself: CNA certification, 10 years of sobriety and this site, The Wandering Enigma, will be a year old.

Today in 2016, I passed the New York State, Department of Health,  Certified Nursing Assistant exam. For once in my life, I wasn’t nervous about the exam. The instructor drilled us on the skills and material we needed to pass the exam, so much of the credit I give to her. It was worth all the effort.

On December 1, 2017, I will be celebrating ten(10) years of sobriety. It brings tears to my eyes. I can distinctly remember pounding a beer on the table in the late 1990’s saying, “If I could stop drinking this, my life would be a hold lot different.” But I never imagined what I’ve been through since day, both the good and bad times.

With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to viewers to publish parts of my old journal entries from the beginning of my sobriety. Where was my head ten years ago, say today?  I wrote it all down either electronically or on paper. Yes, I have kept both for ten years but only periodically have a gone back to them. It’s time to dust them off.

In addition, I am going to start publishing my experiences of working the 12 Steps with my Sponsor. It will be a monthly series.  I can publish my own material while at the same time gathering material from other sources for reference. Perhaps start discussing our own stories and experiences too?

Lastly,  this site will have its first anniversary on December 4, 2017. The purpose of this site was to provide unedited experiences of my journey through sobriety. In addition,  providing other relevant material on sobriety.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to do the later because I’ve been self-absorbed in my personal journal. But at some point, I hope to expand the site to include material and references.

Our journey in sobriety is ALWAYS a work in progress.  ~ Mike Kolodziej