i turned 50 a couple of weeks ago. The reason i mention this is because my parents were here from the States and they brought 2 presents more than they knew.
In addition to the gifts and the help around the apartment, my father was kind enough to spend a lot of time making a musical slideshow of my life, from infancy to adolescence to manhood. We watched it on my birthday and what I noticed was that, for many of the photos, i was obviously feeling no pain – or anything else. Shiny eyed, sloppy grin, puffy face…
Sure, the photos were taken during parties and special occasions, but the number of “well lit” photos was significant. Even my kids laughed a couple of times (yeah, let’s say just a couple) and said, “Oh yeah, you’re so drunk there!”
This was good news for a couple of reasons, the main one is that i’m no longer that guy. For family gatherings i’m sober and present and together and no one needs to worry about me embarrassing myself or them. Another reason i enjoyed the show was that my kids felt comfortable talking about my drinking days, and that it wasn’t treated like a taboo subject. Speaking as someone who comes from a family with more elephants than rooms, this was reassuring.
The second present that unfolded during the festivities was my father. At dinner, he got choked up (he does that a lot nowadays) making a toast to me, saying how proud he was that i looked comfortable in my own skin. He said it’s the first time in a long time that he’d felt that way when watching me, but that’s all any parent wishes for their kids.
When people ask me how it feels to turn 50, i can honestly tell them i’ve finally learned to let go of things. Not take everything so damn seriously. Thanks to sobriety and Alcoholics Anonymous, i’ve achieved a peace of mind that makes the next 50 years look a lot more exciting than i ever could have believed.
The other day a song called “Behind Me Now” by the talented Amos Lee popped up on shuffle and the stark first lines left me thinking.
All my best days are behind me now.
If you had told me three years ago, before i got sober, that my best days were over, i would have gotten angry and disagreed with all the logic and fear at my disposal.
“Sure,” i would have said, “things aren’t that great for me and my past is full of glories and greater times but to say my best days are behind me,” i would have argued, “is basically telling me i might as well kill myself.”
With my drinking, however, that’s exactly what i was doing. Until i tried to commit suicide the fast way. One of the reasons for that fiasco was that, on some level, i did suspect that all my best days were behind me.
If you came to me today and told me all me best days were behind me now, i wouldn’t argue with you. i wouldn’t become nervous and search for words to justify my lifestyle and choices. i wouldn’t need to because i know that today is better than yesterday, and yesterday was pretty damn good.
That’s why i intend on staying straight ahead.
One of the bad habits that followed me like a mangy dog out of my alcoholism and into my sober life was The Best of Intentions. The sad thing about my Best of Intentions was that it remained just that, an Intention.
- i should reach out
- i should read that book
- i should go to a meeting
- i should post that blog
Fortunately, every sober day makes it a little easier for me to stop thinking i should do something, but to actually do it instead.
- i reached out
- i read that book
- i went to a meeting
- i posted this blog…
The next time you hear yourself saying “I should”, try changing it to “I did”.
Remember me? i’m the guy who has a lot of defaults and is lucky enough to be able to see them clearer all the time.
The truth now: i judge a lot. All the time. Constantly maybe even.
i judge walking down the street, talking to people i meet, looking in the mirror, even getting clearer in the rooms.
I judge alcoholically, meaning compulsively, and for the wrong reasons because i judge to make myself feel better at another’s expense. i judge because i like to think i’m master of the universe and judging the world comes with the job.
i don’t just judge you, though. i’m an equal opportunity judge because i judge myself all the time, as well. i judge myself for being too shy, too fearful and i judge myself for judging too much.
But that’s OK, right? Judging myself is a good thing and it’s a tool for self improvement, isn’t it?
Judging myself isn’t an act of humility, it’s the opposite. Judging myself is a flagrant act of hubris because i’m basically punishing myself for not acting as perfect as i know i am.
i judge myself so i can feel guilty.
The solution to this is to be right sized. To see myself as i really am and not as who i think i am. Only after i accept myself for who i am today, defaults and all, will i be able to let myself off the hook.
What if “Alcohol Abuse” didn’t mean that i abused alcohol, but that booze abused me?
Think about it. Liquor took advantage of my neediness and desperation. At the beginning of our relationship, it made me feel better, more confident, and more attractive. As time wore on, however, alcohol hurt me more and more, leaving me with physical scars and a bruised ego to the point i was ashamed of our relationship. i tried to hide from my friends just how badly it was hurting me but this became impossible, so i left it more than once. Yet every time i walked away, i soon missed the bottle so badly that i forgot how bad it was for me.
Until the last time, when i walked out, slammed that door and never looked back.
Except sometimes i open up that door to the past and think about the good ole days, back when alcohol loved me for real and treated me so well. There were some nights we really got along, but those moments were the exception to the rule. i remember those times fondly, but not enough to give booze one more shot.
Overheard in the rooms – in prison:
I’m gonna try that God thing, because I’m just done making decisions on my own. It’s like I have 2 companies in my head – one that manufactures BS and another that buys it.
This was overheard by a woman in recovery who volunteers in a prison ministry as part of her Step 12.
[Thank you Miss Anne Thrope for sharing this with me.]
You could pig out on candy and not have any dinner.
You should just binge on TV all weekend.
Take another 5-minute break on top of the 18th 5-minute break you’re just finishing.
Just click on one more link.
You owe it to yourself to look for every sexy picture of Amber Heard every leaked online.
You deserve a drink.
Angry Birds is on Facebook!? And you want to write!?
Maybe it’s just me, but i realized the other day that my cravings come in voices. I’m not saying the fish sticks in the freezer are telling me to kill my boss, but when i’m tempted to press the “fuck it” button, the temptation comes in the form of words. Exactly like those above.
The frustrating thing is that i recognize all of those actions won’t make me happy, but i have to take the time to quell the voice before i can enjoy my time. Or sometimes i give in (except for the drink, of course) and feel some degree of bad about it later.
At least now i understand that voice is not right. Before, because it came from inside me, i thought it was what i really wanted. The more meetings i attend and the more service i give, the faster i’m able to recognize the voice as temptation.
But here’s the thing i don’t get. Where does this voice come from? Where inside of me do i get these messages that will lead me to being unhappy?