I never imagined I would be celebrating 8 days sober, let alone 8 years. 1/28/08 is the day I decided to start taking responsibility for my actions and take my life back. As arrogant as I was, I figured I had all the answers and could handle this little problem all on my own. The first 3 months I tried to do just that with minimal success. Sure I was “sober”, but psychologically I was a basket case. Some might call this a “dry drunk”, but I call it “a relapse waiting to happen”. The real change didn’t start to happen until I took 2 major steps. The first was to wholeheartedly tell myself I would go to any lengths to stay sober. Not just tell myself that or say it out loud, but actually mean it. The second was to seek someone out who had been in my shoes before and was succeeding in sobriety. Of course, this is just the crib notes version of my journey, but we all need a starting point. I get the fact that it is definitely not easy admitting that you may have a problem and reaching out for a helping hand. An addict/alcoholic is an egomaniac. The last thing we want to do is admit defeat or ask for help.
In light of that, there were many key aspects of sobriety that I learned early on in my journey that I still practice regularly today, an entire 8 years later. Below is a list of things that I need to keep in my tool belt for quick access in order to ensure my sobriety. If you’re struggling, try some of these out. They could help, they might not. At my weakest, I was willing to try anything.
Lose the ego: Believe it or not, the world doesn’t revolve around you. As much as we’d like to think we run this place, in actuality, we ain’t shit. Part of getting sober is giving up the fact that we can depend on ourselves. How far has that gotten us in the past? Right to here, this moment, looking for some answers, some help, a better way to live. Give it up. It is such a relief once we realize we don’t have to take the weight of the world on our shoulders. Once you can admit that you are no better than the next guy or girl, that is when some real change starts to occur.
Put in the work: Sobriety is hard! This shit doesn’t happen overnight. 8 years in and I still have to work at this thing. Addiction is a son of a bitch, waiting for you trip and fall and become vulnerable. If you aren’t actively working on your sobriety, no matter how you do that, you WILL be gobbled up by the insanity again, Just as with anything in life, if you want it bad enough, you better be prepared to work for it.
Be selfless and give back: This one is key. You must give just as much, if not more, than you receive. I’m not talking monetarily here. The moment when you start to consider others is when you realize that you are in fact worth more than you ever imagined. Hold a door open, donate your spare change, help a friend move even though you really don’t want to, offer to drive the carpool, WHATEVER! These small acts of selflessness add up. The more good you do, the better you will feel. Just remember to do it without expectation of having the action returned in your favor. That’s not what this is all about.
Talk to others like you: Believe it or not, you’re not the only one feeling what you are feeling. I found it very hard to talk to someone who wasn’t experiencing all the negative emotions that I was during my addiction. What helped was seeking out other guys and gals who I could relate to, but that were succeeding with their sobriety. They had more answers than my buddy was giving me while he was holding a beer in one hand. Other addicts/alcoholics have been in the trenches just like we have. They’ve survived. It only makes sense to ask them how they made it out alive and are now striving.
Keep that PMA: Positive Mental Attitude. This one is the game changer. You are in control of the way you look at things. Do you wish to dwell on the negative? Well sorry, have fun continuing a life full of misery. You just have to flip that switch and actively remind yourself that to every dark, there is a light. Put the positive spin on things. Bad things are inevitably going to happen to you, even when you’re clean and sober. These things we have no control of, like we mentioned before. The way you react and deal with these things can dictate how your sobriety carried out from there. If you tend to look more towards the negative aspect of these situations, best of luck to you. PMA isn’t easy. We all have bad days. As I once heard Diamond Dallas Page say, “I no longer have any bad days. I just have bad minutes”. Don’t let negativity consume you. It’s okay to process it, but it’s more important that you move on. Things will get better. Maybe not today, maybe not next week, but if you put in the work, trust me, it will.
Take these for what you will. These may or may not help, but I can only speak for myself in that they definitely have helped give me a life I never imagined having, and that’s a good thing. I’m always willing to help anyone who is serious about getting clean and sober. If you need additional help, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
“Watever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”- Napoleon Hill