Before I even get going, I won’t even blow smoke in the vicinity of anyone’s butt: If you like feeling like you’re dying a little each day, if you like the fact that the people you love run the other way when they see you coming (or hide), if you like feeling like a loser… Don’t get sober. Sadly following a program of recovery not only fixes all of those things, it fixes most financial woes as well – you’ll be amazed at how much money you’ve got when you’re not paying for court costs and fines, drunk driving lawyers, the alcohol and the rest of the general mayhem. In the last five years I could have saved enough to pay for a Ferrari, cash. Now, if you find that kind of misery fun and enjoyable, well have at it.
That said, the thought of a boring life is a distinct fear of many drunks on the edge of recovery – myself included, all those years ago.
The truth is, being a drunk fogs the thinking. I simply wasn’t capable of thinking my way out of the box I’d locked myself into, including the notion that a sober life is somehow boring. Unless, of course, you consider paying for the stuff you want with cash rather than having to finance a TV boring… Unless, of course, you consider having to wake up in the morning wondering how in the hell you got home last night and what you hit to cause that dent in your car “fun“. If you think fearing the moment when the other shoe drops to squash you enjoyable… You get the point. For alcoholics like me, at some point drinking changes. What was once fun becomes a cement weight chained to the neck. Worse, once you realize the weight, what comes next really sucks: Alcohol stops working. All of a sudden, it ceases to be the escape that it once was. That feeling it used to give you, that you were okay, ends. At this point I absolutely freaked out. Once the escape was rendered useless, all I had left was the misery. Shortly thereafter came hell on earth – and I started picking out trees…
That was the point I gave up the fight to keep drinking. I simply ran out of gas and I really didn’t care whether or not being sober was going to be fun or not. Whatever it was, it had to be better than what I’d become.
Fortunately, the last 21 years have been anything but boring. It has not been easy, but it ain’t dull either. All of the emotional pain that used to be a part of being on the right side of the grass, pumping air, is gone. I got into Twelve Step groups and have so many good friendships that it’s really quite hard to describe. Starting out, especially at such a young age, I hung out at clubs for recovering kids (they’re all over the place – dancing, DJ’s – everything you’d get in a night out, minus booze). Girlfriends came and went in that first year, then I wised up and took a year and a half off from dating until I could get myself fixed. I ended up rooming with a couple of sober guys and we helped each other stay focused on sobriety. Then I finally met a girl I could see settling down with. Four months later we were engaged. We moved in together and took our time putting our wedding together. We married, settled down (eventually), bought a bigger house, had kids, went through some marriage difficulties, and came out of that shining… I’m fortunate to love my wife more today than when we went through the honeymoon period. We put together one heck of a fun life together.
When I sobered up I never would have guessed that it would turn out like this. There have been ups and downs but the ups were never too high and the downs were never lower than the “ups” while I was drinking. Sobriety has been a lot of things but boring isn’t one of them.
One thing is certain though: Misery is refundable. All I have to do to stroll through hell again is take that first drink – it won’t be long after that.