Today I celebrate 22 years without a drop. 8,036 days. 192,864 hours. 11,571,840 minutes. 694,310,400 seconds.
This has been a truly excellent year for me though it’s had its stress and has been anything but easy… I don’t think it’s supposed to be though. In fact, easy and stress-free were never promised when I sobered up. Growing is never easy or pain-free and this has been a huge year of growth. Taking risks, locking horns with challenges, working toward being a better husband and father, the career(s) and trying to pass on my experience, strength and hope to other drunks that it may help them to recover too… Point is, when I was young (and arguably stupid) I thought “making it” would mean a carefree life of fun and happiness – a perpetual vacation in other words.
I haven’t gotten the balance down perfectly yet because I’ve gone too far the other way and spend a good deal of what little vacation I do take working, but I’m getting there.
In the end, the important thing is that I am free from mood or mind altering drugs and that gives me the chance to seek out my happiness. Without sobriety, I’ve proven time and time again, I’m pretty much useless.
I was promised that if I just stayed sober, kept coming back and kept my life clean, my life would become so good I would get to a point where I thought it was so fantastic I would think it couldn’t get any better. I’ve been there dozens of times. Each time I’ve kept on the path, continued to come back, continued to live the clean and sober life… And each and every time I thought I was at the top of my mountain, that it couldn’t possibly get better, it has.
For that, I am grateful. Life sober is good.
One of the greatest factors contributing to my overall happiness and enjoyment of sober life has been maintaining a decent level of fitness (in the first couple of years, then in the last three, I could rewrite that, “exceptional level of fitness”). Fitness has helped me navigate through almost every stage of my recovery, in fact I’ve been into some form of physical activity all but five years of the twenty-two I’ve been sober. I can say with certainty, those five years were the hardest. Hindsight is what it is but looking back those five stick out like a sore thumb.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say fitness is more important to the recovering than for normal folk but I can explain why it is so important to me. First, and starting with the simple, alcohol was my escape. Fitness, or training, was the positive answer to the destructive nature of pouring my life down the drain for a drink (or several, as the case was). For an hour a day, or even three or four on weekend days, I didn’t have to fret about what I had left to do to get my life back in order. I didn’t have to worry about making amends for being a loser. All I had to do was get my but outside and move it… There has always been one major difference between drowning my troubles and working out at them though: I wasn’t willing to piss away what was good in my life to overdo it. Fitness was my anti-alcohol. Fitness didn’t get in the way of going to work, it made work bearable. Fitness didn’t have me throwing away everything that was good in my life, it added to its greatness. Unlike alcohol, fitness made my life better.
With that, you can be assured, I’ll keep coming back.