19 Mar Three Reasons | Eight Years Sober Today
What a ride!
Even in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I could arrive at this milestone of eight years clean and sober after being homeless, hopeless, and chained to my addictions. Not only that, never did I think it was possible to be internally happy and emotionally sober. The truth is, I don’t deserve most of the credit and this post is not to boast about all the things I have done to arrive at this goal. In fact, it is the exact opposite. On my own, I failed over and over. I am sober and happy only because of these three suggestions:
- Stick with the winners
It was suggested early on to seek out people who were actually doing the work in recovery and hang out with them. I took this suggestion and found a few guys who were attending regular meetings, working with sponsors, and applying the steps in their daily living. They also sought ways to serve other people every chance they could. These men showed me how rad recovery can be.
My sponsor was also a winner. He taught me how to “live the steps”, not just work them once. This is how I discovered emotional sobriety. It’s pretty easy to stay abstinent when you are emotionally sober enjoying the gifts of serenity.
In the same context, I have the most amazing family. I focused on building honest and genuine relationships with them through the amends process and consistent efforts to include them in my new life. My wife and family members have supported me through the toughest of days when I wanted to give up. I give credit to all the “winners” in my life!
- Depend on God
This was a tough one for me at first because of the deep shame I carried. But I was faced with a decision, I either learn to trust God, or die. Plain and simple. Stemming from the glorious gift of desperation, I experimented with the possibility of building a fresh and new relationship with a loving Higher Power. Today, that relationship is the most valued and cherished connection I have. All other relationships fall beneath this one. What was once an experimental seed of faith has grown into an oak tree of dependence and trust in my Maker. It is pretty simple to stay sober when you walk around chatting with God all day, and noticing the little miracles in my life. Hanging out with other grateful people makes life much more pleasant and enjoyable.
- Learn to love myself
Because I have positive relationships with people who build me up, and my total reliance on God, I am able to take actions of self-love. The truth is, if I don’t learn to love myself, I am limited in my ability to love my wife, my kids, and other important people. Furthermore, I am limited in helping others find self-love and respect. This is a process I struggle with every day, however, because it is my mission to develop self-love and respect, I try my best to keep this as a priority. It is interesting that self-love generally comes deepest when I am trying to help others find happiness. It really is true that “it is by self-forgetting that one finds.”
I am my own worst critic and I have to remember the words of my dear brother Dave Blanchard when he asked, “If I spoke to you the way you speak to yourself, would we still be friends?” The answer is a resounding NO! Therefore, I need to work on giving myself positive affirmations and working the steps on my self-condemnation and belittling self-talk. I need to become friends with myself by honoring the divine qualities inside.
Some other ways that I try to love myself are to wake up and make my bed in the morning, to take good care of my hygiene, and to look at myself in the mirror each morning and give myself a genuine and sincere compliment. These little actions help. I also try to exercise and watch my nutrition because my physical health is directly linked to my emotional, spiritual, and mental health. It is pretty easy to stay sober when I focus on loving myself, loving God, and loving others.
That is what recovery is all about—LOVE!
Thank you to all those who have walked this journey with me. I honor you and value the role you play.
I’ll take another 24…
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