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The Joy that is Recovery from Addiction

August 2016
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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.  

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8 Comments

  1. The Guat says:

    I’m glad you were able to turn things around and find other avenues, healthier ways to live life, like cycling. Addiction is definitely a tough thing and we had to deal with that growing up. But when people find a way to find themselves again and get back on track, it’s pretty awesome. Especially when they decide to stay with their new lifestyle. Glad things worked out for you buddy and that spirituality helped out. Keep on, keeping on.

  2. Hey man, thanks for being so open about all of this. You never know who might find hope through your story.

  3. Sue Slaght says:

    Agreeing with futrefitguy above. I applaud you for being so open Jim.

  4. boderick says:

    Great stuff. Yes, it’s the ‘horse thief’ that’s the real problem. I put down the alcohol over 30 years ago but still dealing with the stuff that was underneath, the real problem. If alcohol or other drugs had been the problem then just stopping using would have been enough. Not even close.
    It took me probably about 7 or 8 years to even feel anything like ‘normal’, whatever that is. Anyway, on the whole life is good now, lovely family, good friends, self worth. The main thing I have to deal with now, apart from all the other stuff, is ageing. I’m 67 (just accidentally typed 678 and sometimes it feels like that), and getting up in the morning to get my 17 year-old daughter ready for school can be a challenge.
    But I wouldn’t change it.
    I’ll be following your blog.
    Take care

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks Kevin. One of my favorite sayings about aging is that it “isn’t for the weak”. Thanks for commenting, congratulations and good luck all at the same time. That underlying stuff sure is tough to change.

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