There has never been a point in my 23 years of sobriety where everything was perfect. Where sobriety was in perfect, my relationship with my wife and kids was great, they were doing great, work was enjoyable and profitable, everything was picked up, the taxes were paid…
There’s always something that could be just a little better, that I could put more effort into. Always.
On the other end of that spectrum, I still remember my last drunk like it was only a few years ago. The misery, the fear, the sickness of it all. I remember being afraid the doctor was right and my liver really was shot… that I’d start turning yellow any day. I remember the fear of running out of options, winding up on the street. I remember the uncontrollable shakes, nausea, sweating. I remember the horror of not knowing how I was going to fix all of the damage I’d wrought on the world. I remember panic attacks and not being able to stop the hamster wheel in my head.
Being that sick, being that miserable, being devoid of hope has a profound affect on good times later on, once one has been lifted (or climbed, depending on perspective and belief in a Higher Power) out of that pit and put a plug in the jug; once I’ve been through that, doing the next right thing at work isn’t quite so scary. Apologizing to my wife for being a grump is easy, in comparison. Taking an hour a day, or more when time/life allows, to maintain a healthy, fit weight and life is a no-brainer.
Put simply, I choose to look at my greatest personal flaw as a Blessing. Were it not for my being a drunk of epic proportions and choosing to quit at an early age, first, I doubt I’d have made it beyond my 30th birthday, but even assuming I did (which is a pretty fair leap), I don’t think I’d have wanted to. I was already tired of the run-around and contemplating the permanent solution to a temporary problem at 22. If not for all of that, I never would have found the Twelve Steps or such fantastically wonderful people who dedicated so much time to showing me how to use the available tools to turn my life around. See, having lived through it, I am able to have a beautiful perspective on the the difference between a good, fun life and a living hell. One hates to fall back on the stale “been there, done that” but it does fit well. I have been there, and I have no desire to go back.
Not only do I have that perspective to draw from, but getting to the good life by passing through hell first provides an excellent filter on how I view everyday, normal things that so many people take for granted. How often in one’s life is the grass greener on the other side? For me, the grass is just greener, and for that I am grateful.