Still Working on It

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It’s been 14 months (almost). I’m happy with that – very happy.

I haven’t been posting but I’m still doing the work. The fog is still lifting and the world is a bit brighter, crisper each day. It feels good.

A big part of the work involves looking after myself – sometimes it feels a bit selfish, but I’ve come to realize that I can’t serve others if I haven’t first cared for myself.

I’m 49, but physically I am probably the fittest that I have ever been. I’ve been eating well – vegetarian, almost vegan – ensuring that I consume a variety of whole, unprocessed foods each day. I’m also training hard for my first 100 mile trail race. Spending hours in the trails just running, hiking and climbing.  It feels great to get out into the mountains each day and just breath. Being outside in nature creates a feeling of being connected to something much bigger than me – it’s a stabilizing force that fosters a feeling of contentment. I can’t remember feeling content before, feeling like I don’t need anything else in my life. I think that in many ways contentment is the basis of happiness.

Peace.

 

Doing the Work

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Last week I told the story of my failed attempt to attend an AA meeting – and I made a commitment to attend a meeting this week.

Lately, I’ve come to realize that I’m becoming complacent with my recovery. I’ve done some work over the past 9.5 months of sobriety but I have a lot of work to do. I don’t want to wake up with a hangover asking myself “What the hell happened?”, but I know that if I am complacent, it’s only a matter of time.

Tonight I attended two meetings – a newcomer meeting and a “regular” meeting. These meetings were in a different location than the ones I had attended early in my sobriety and I’m happy to say that these two meetings really clicked for me (for reasons that aren’t really important, the others just weren’t for me).

The experiences that were shared at the meetings tonight were very helpful and inspiring for me – I won’t share any details as obviously anonymity at meetings is very important. What I can say is that one person shared his experience of being 40+ years sober which inspires me to do it too (if I can live to be 88!) while another, who was charged with DUI on the weekend, had tremendous courage to come to her first meeting.

While everyone’s story is unique, there are also an amazing number of similarities – the realization that you have a drinking problem and that your life is out of control, the inability to control your drinking using logic and willpower, and of course the tremendous sense of guilt and shame that comes with repeated failed attempts to quit. Without going to meetings I would not have the benefit of knowing that I share a similar path. I would be alone – and I could not do this alone.

I will be going to these two meetings again next Tuesday and – who knows – maybe I’ll even check out a some other meetings before that.

Peace.

 

Read My Blog!

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That title isn’t directed at you, although you’re invited to read my blog of course. The title is really just making reference to the fact that I just read all my previous blog posts – starting with the most recent and working my way back to the first one.

I learned a few things by re-reading my own words. I’ve definitely made some progress in the last ten months, but I’m aware that I’ve got a long way to go. Being sober, and staying sober, is work – but it’s good work – like building something and then being able to look at what you built with a sense of pride and satisfaction.

In the last few days, I’ve become aware that I haven’t really been doing the work recently. You could probably say that I’ve dropped my guard. I heard someone say that to stay sober, you should spend 99% of the time preparing for that 1% – that moment when that drink presents itself and you think “Hey, one drink won’t be a problem. I’ve been sober for a while, I can have one drink. In fact dude, you’ve been doing so well  – you totally deserve a drink!” Thinking like that has taken me down that dark hole before – and only an alcoholic can convince themselves that getting drunk would be a great way to celebrate sobriety.

I went to 3 or 4 AA meetings a number of months ago and although I got a lot out of them, they didn’t totally click for me.  Re-reading my blog today reminded me just how impactful they had been though and I’ve decided that I need to go back. I checked out a listing of some of the local meetings and found a different group – perhaps that group will work out a bit better for me.

This group meets at 8 pm at a recreation center about 15 km from my house – close enough to be convenient but far enough that I’m less likely to run into someone I know (I’m still nervous about running into people I know while on my way into an AA meeting).

I arrived about 15-20 minutes early to scope it out. I parked out on the street instead of in the rec center parking lot and, on the way through the lot, out of the front door of the rec center came someone I knew! I stopped behind a truck in the parking lot and she walked by, within 30-40 feet, but didn’t see me. Phew. I watched her get into her car and, when I was sure she wouldn’t see me, proceeded at a fast walk towards the front door of the rec center. Just then the front door opened and out stepped someone else I know! “Hey, how’s it going? What are you up to?” I asked before she could ask me the same question. We made some small talk and then I walked past her and into the front door. Holy crap man – what a gong show.

That whole episode threw me for a loop. I lost my nerve and wandered around the rec center a bit – through a glass door I could see the meeting going on without me. I went back to my car and drove home.  Clearly, I have a lot of work to do.

I’m going to a meeting – I’ve written it here – so I have to do it. I’ll let you know how it goes in my next post.

Peace.

 

 

8 Months

A photo by Ales Krivec. unsplash.com/photos/4k-U1Wp2d00

It’s been just over 8 months since I’ve had a drink. Good for me!

Watched the final Tragically Hip concert on TV tonight – Gord Downie is an artist. I shed a few tears watching the show. I’m also thinking about a fellow in my running group who is lost in the mountains. He’s 50 and has a 20 year old daughter and lots of friends and family who are waiting for him to come home. It’s been six days. Today they called off the search. I’m thinking of him out there. Alone.

I still have those moments when I crave a drink. A cold beer on a hot day. Sometimes I catch myself thinking “I’ll just have one. What harm could that do?”. But I know the answer. So I wait, and the urge to drink, that came on like a wave, drifts away like mist. It doesn’t take long, maybe only a matter of minutes.

Peace.

Four Months

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It’s been four months (plus a day) since I quit. I’m happy with that. I’m very happy with that.

I’m feeling like me, not the me that I was afraid was in there, but the me that I was hopeful was there. And it’s the real me, I can feel it – emerging from the fog after decades of blur.

Peace.

Inspiration

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There was a time when it was generally believed that it was impossible for a human to run a mile in under four minutes. In May of 1954 Roger Bannister proved the impossible possible.

What’s perhaps even more notable; however, is what has happened since that incredible athletic feat. Within 5 years of Bannister’s run, the ‘impossible’ was repeated dozens of times by over 20 different people. In fact, less than two months after the four-minute barrier was broken, two runners (Bannister & John Landy) ran sub-four minutes in the same race!

In 1964, the first high-school athelete ran a mile under four minutes. An American, Steve Scott, has run sub-four minutes 136 times in his career and John Walker (no relation to Johnnie) has done it 135 times.

What was thought to be impossible is now almost routine – the impossible barrier has been smashed thousands of times – in fact the current record is almost 17 seconds under 4 minutes!

Never underestimate the power of inspiration. It can make the difficult doable, the impossible possible.

I often reach out for inspiration. It was difficult to break my addiction, but I know I can do it because thousands of others have gone before me. If not for that, I might have thought that it was not possible.

One person that I find particularly inspirational is Rich Roll. Many of you may have heard about Rich, an overweight alcoholic and drug abuser who turned his life around to become one of the fittest people in the world. I first found out about him when I read his book, Finding Ultra, which I’ve now read three times.

In addition to being a inspiration himself, Rich has a podcast in which he interviews other amazing people, many of whom are former drug addicts or alcoholics who have gone on to lead amazing lives.

Today I listened to Rich interview Khalil Rafati, a guy who runs a successful chain of wellness bars called SunLife Organics. Khalil was neglected and abused as a child and ended up a homeless drug addict before turning his life around.

Dude, if this guy can do it, I can. I am inspired.

Peace.

in the coming weeks, I hope to blog about some other amazing people whose life stories have inspired me. If you could use a little inspiration, hopefully one or two of their stories will resonate with you as they have with me.

Just Do

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During my run today, I was reflecting on two of my recent posts – What do you do to Stay Sober? & Living Intentionally.   It’s clear that the importance of taking action in order to maintain a sober, healthy lifestyle can’t be underestimated. In a lot of ways, it’s not about not drinking, it’s about doing something else – taking action.

When I wanted to quit drinking for so many years, most of the time I thought about not doing something – “Today I will not drink”. I’d be lucky to make it to noon.

The day I quit, I had decided to do something. I’d decided to go to AA the next day. I’d looked it up and there was a “beginner” meeting. It was December 19 and the meeting was on  the 20th. I had also decided to blog about it – you can read the blog about my decision to do something here and about the first (attempted) meeting here. I figured I couldn’t show up to the meeting drunk or they’d ask me to leave (they won’t) and I figured they’d ask me when the last time I drank was (they didn’t) and I didn’t want to say “This morning.”, so I didn’t drink that day or on the day of the meeting.

At the time, I didn’t realize that the reason I quit that day was because I’d decided to do something – but if I read the post now, it’s staring me in the face!

In the comments of “What do you do to stay sober?”, no one says that they just sit around and “don’t drink”. To those that are sober right now, it might be fairly obvious that that you need to take action, but for those of you who are reading this with a glass of wine or bottle of beer next to you, now might be the time to choose to do something. Deciding that you won’t drink tomorrow probably won’t work. At least it didn’t work for me and for most of the people whose blogs I follow.

For those of us who are walking in the light of sobriety, we have to ensure that we don’t let down our guard. That day that we don’t decide to do might be the day that alcohol slips back into our life.

What should you “just do”? There are so many things! I don’t pretend to have the answers but here’s a list to get you started:

  • Go to an AA meeting
  • Go see a counsellor/psychologist/psychiatrist
  • Go to your doctor
  • Tell a friend
  • Book rehab
  • Talk to your priest/clergy

You don’t have to do just one of them, you can do many. In fact, some of them may not work for you, but others might. When you’ve started down that path of sobriety, there are also lots of things that you can do to maintain & strengthen your path including:

  • Meditate
  • Pray
  • Help others
  • Get exercise/eat well/sleep well
  • Be thankful
  • Spend time in nature
  • Seek new friends & acquaintances (sober ones!)
  • Blog
  • Follow blogs, follow inspirational people (I have a list if you’re interested)

Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list. Got something to add? Let me know in the comments.

Peace