I will never forget it…
This man I hardly knew, telling me “You can’t drink, ever, for the rest of your life.”
This guy doesn’t know anything about me. I’m only 23. How is he going to tell me something like that? I know that I have some problems that I need to take care of; but for the rest of my life? What is this guy talking about?
The sad truth is, even at that moment, I knew he was right. I was lucky in my recovery, because I never went through the denial process. The first step was always very easy for me. I knew I was an alcoholic. I knew I had been for my entire life. Although I was young, I knew that the sooner I came to grips with everything, the better off I would be.
It is a terrifying thought. To be young, and think about being sober, for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. How does one even go about doing that? I love drinking. It’s my favorite thing to do. Now all of the sudden people are telling me that I can’t any more. What am I going to do when I get married? What about at football games and graduations? What am I going to do on the weekends? Do I just sit around and do nothing? For the rest of my life? I couldn’t imagine living this way.
Being bored, was my biggest fear when I first came into recovery. It sounds like common sense now, but at the time, I had no idea what I was going to do with my time.
I was lucky. I had really gotten the shit kicked out of me in my active addiction. I was scared to go back to that place, and at the very least, that gave me the willingness to stay sober for a few months. I figured if I wanted to drink again, I could – maybe I would just give it a few more months to get my feet back under me. I found a sponsor and at least began to feel comfortable talking about some of the anger I had built up inside of me. Slowly, that angst and anxiety I carried with me began to ease. That was good, but that didn’t solve the other problem I had.
If I speak about it honestly, I didn’t want to go the rest of my life without a drink. I felt good in my new found recovery, but every once in a while, it would be nice to have a beer when I get home from work. It would be nice to take a few shots on New Years. Of course, it would be nice to casually do some heroin as well. Good one…
It was at this time my sponsor gave me the answer to this problem. He made it really simple.
“JUST MAKE IT TILL MIDNIGHT KID”
He still tells me that all the time. This little line has gotten me through so much. That was my answer to not drinking the rest of my life. I just didn’t think about the rest of my life. All I have to do, is get till midnight without drinking. When I start thinking about the future, is when I find myself being fearful. The future is not here yet. If you want to get technical about it, the future will never be here, because now is the present. As long as I am in the present, I have nothing to worry about. All I need to do, is make it till midnight without drinking. I don’t have to think about tomorrow, or next week, or next month. When it comes to my sobriety, I just need to get through the day. When I wake up in the morning, I can do it all over again.
I know that I can do that much. I know that I can go a whole day without picking up a drink. That is the beauty of it. With this mindset, and this perception, going the rest of my life without drinking doesn’t seem like such a big deal.
Here’s the thing, I am not saying not to plan for the future. I don’t want to live in naivety, and pretend like there isn’t a big world out there that I need to be prepared for. It’s simply a matter of priority. My life, my relationships, my career, all of that takes planning. I personally think it is good to stay mindful of the future. For me, I need to keep it simple.
When it comes to staying sober – I do so a day at a time.
There is no in between for me. I get that. I don’t know how to moderate. I can’t moderate anything. All the things in my life, that make me feel good, I gobble up in chunks. I exercise as hard as I possibly can. If I don’t feel completely exhausted, I don’t feel relieved. I still drink red bull like it’s my job. I have continued to struggle with nicotine. I have gone back and forth from cigarettes, to chewing tobacco, to vapors, round and round and round we go. For whatever reason, my brain and my body crave euphoria, so I fill the void with things that won’t suck my life away.
With all this being said, it is imperative that I stay sober. I have come so far, and I am so scared to lose it. I feel as if I am walking on ice sometimes. At any moment – *poof* – this wonderful existence could all disappear. I have heard of people with 20 years relapsing and losing everything. That is horrifying. I don’t ever want that to happen to me. So I don’t drink – one day at a time. 4 years later, I am still young, I am healthy, I am happy. I am free.
No matter what is going on, you can handle it. People die, horrible shit happens every day. That’s okay. Just make it till midnight kid. That’s all you have to do.