I don’t remember much of my life before recovery. I was 22 years-old back then, didn’t know my ass from a hole in the ground. It doesn’t help that I’ve never remembered my entire 21st year on the planet. It was one big blackout. I literally remember nothing after my 21st birthday until after I turned 22 and the People of the State of Michigan decided I should probably sober up.
I know what was out there for me if I’d have stuck to drinking. The likelihood that I’d even be on the right side of the grass, pumping air at 46 is pretty slim. I’ve seen too many good people end up in prison, or worse, because they couldn’t or wouldn’t kick getting drunk or high.
All too often, when it comes to recovery, I see things that just break my heart. The notion that a massage or some good old-fashioned self-knowledge will “cure” a person is deceptive at best, deadly at worst, but usually just plain stupid.
Now maybe I was a special kind of messed up. Perhaps I was a real, real hardcore drunk?
I needed my entire life overhauled. I needed to learn how to be honest with myself and others – and that’s more than your “That depends on your definition of the word ‘is'” political honesty too. I mean rigorously frickin’ honest. It means, “I know what will happen if I allow alcohol or drugs into my system… Chaos.” honesty.
I have to do the best I can to be the best person I can or I’ll be lost or dead. There are no second chances, no more bites at the apple, no more ways I can game the system. I have to be done trying to figure everything out. I have to be done trying to cheat, lie and steal my way through life.
I have to maintain a fit lifestyle. I’m a miserable SOB when I’m polishing the couch with my butt. Hell, I even hate me like that.
I also had to give up all delusions that I can ever drink alcohol or consume mood or mind-altering drugs successfully. I’ve tried every combination out there, I just can’t make it work.
Finally, I had to start living a life based on spirituality. Not, “go to confession and give me ten Hail Mary’s” spiritual. “Do unto your brothers as you would have me do unto you” spirituality.
I read a post yesterday, written by a doctor, that proposed the key to fixing addiction is fixing poverty and homelessness. That sounds awesome but it’s not even close. It’s so wrong, I actually chuckled. Here I was, a silver spoon in my butt 22 year-old kid, never had a want for anything and fixing poverty and homelessness is going to straighten me up? How naïve! That might make a great government grant request but the notion is silly on its face.
Poverty and homelessness are symptoms of alcoholism. As is dishonesty, as is lethargy, as is a complete moral decay of a person. Fixing the symptoms only keeps one dependent on the medication.
For me to have a fighting chance, I had to fix the alcoholic, and that takes a little more than a nice bike, a massage, and a place to hang my hat.
As they like to say, if you sober up a horse thief, you’ve still gotta deal with the horse thief.
This very well can be my best cycling season yet. I’ve got a pile of miles in. I’m fit. I’m happy. I’m enjoying cycling with my wife. We’ve been on a number of cycling trips this year and they’ve been progressively more enjoyable. It hasn’t been all good times and noodle salad though it has been good… and I’ve eaten more than a few pounds of noodle salad.
First, I told a friend last night at the club ride that cycling is the only thing I know of that makes me feel like a kid again. That’s only partially true though, because as I kid I had a cheap Murray 15 sp. mountain bike that I beat to death. Today, not only do I have a couple of high-end road bikes, I’ve got a decent mountain bike as well. I’m no longer relegated to riding to friends’ houses and around the neighborhood, I take my bikes camping, to explore roads hundreds of miles away with the only care of the day being busting out some miles with my wife and friends. I get to feel like a kid without the constraints of being a kid.
If I’ve learned anything about cycling, with all of the attempts at riding with the A guys, with getting dropped every week from the group to finally forming our B group, and all of the awesome adventure vacations I’ve been on, it’s this:
- I have my limits and the closer I get to them, the less fun I have during the ride. After the ride, now that’s a different story. There’s always a certain tough guy euphoria after completing a tough ride that I don’t get if I’m not right at the edge. That said, all things being equal, I enjoy the below threshold rides a little more than what is described as “suffer-fests”.
- I still have to push those limits because it’s been fairly stated, if you’re not getting faster, you’re getting slower.
- “Eat well” does not mean eating like a vegan monk. I still eat a lot of the fun stuff that cycling makes possible, obviously moderation and good choices are imperative.
- Cycling, especially club cycling, is all about helping others. By getting out of myself I enjoy life so much more than if it’s spent inside the gray matter between my ears.
- Some cyclists get their joy from crushing each other on a ride. They’re not wrong, it’s just what makes them happy. I don’t have to understand it – and I certainly don’t have to take part in it if it doesn’t do the same for me (and it doesn’t). Others get their joy from a slow spin… there’s nothing wrong with that either. Then there are those of us who like fast, without the race. There are local cycling clubs that represent all types of cyclists. The best part is, fit people aren’t a glum lot. Chances are you’ll be able to find people inside a group that you’ll gel with. Cycling solo has its merits, but nothing beats a nice weekend ride with a bunch of friends.
The important thing to remember is that nobody ever got fit sitting on the couch. Get out there and ride.