I struggled to decide whether to write this or not. In the end, the reasons to post it outweighed the reasons not to, so here we are. I have a unique background and a life experiences that allow me to relate to a broad spectrum of people, so sharing the following may be helpful to someone else currently experiencing similar struggles. That is the primary reason I am sharing this piece of my life. Since it's the off-season, I guess now is as good of time as any.
Those who frequent the open thread have likely noticed that I’ve been mostly absent for quite some time. The reasons for this are numerous; I’ve been busy at work, busy being a dad, busy building a business, but there is another reason that I’ve been more absent, and that reason is that I’ve been battling addiction.
The quick and easy explanation is that I am an alcoholic/addict. The two terms are synonymous. Alcohol is my primary weakness, but I will use the word addict to describe myself because it is all the same thing, and I think much needs to be done to remove the stigma from the terms. I have been battling addiction and trying to re-achieve sobriety for almost six years. I’ll give a quick synopsis of my story below, and I also will share more in the comments.
I’d like to note some terms you may see, and give you a brief definition so that you will understand what I’m saying.
- Addict and alcoholic – these terms are synonymous, the disease does not discriminate
- In recovery – an addict who is currently living a healthy and sober life
- Active addict – an addict who is currently living a non-sober life
- Sober addict – an addict who is currently not using, but is not doing anything to maintain sobriety. This is sometimes termed ‘white-knuckled sobriety’, and most people in this situation are not happy and relapse is a distinct possibility
I was an active addict from the time I started drinking at the age of 13. There are those who believe that a person can be born an addict, and I honestly think that I was. From my first drink, I loved it. For me, there was never any thought of social drinking, the concept was foreign to me, and still is. I worked hard, and I played hard, I didn’t quit drinking until either the booze was gone or until I fell asleep. Like many, I dabbled in drugs occasionally after I turned 18, but booze was always ‘my thing’. I worked very hard, I drank very hard, I made a lot of money, but I had nothing to show for it.
God woke me up when I was 33, and after going through treatment again (and actually trying this time, I’d been through several where I had no intention of stopping), I gave up that crazy life and decided that it was time to do something with my life. I remained sober for six-and-a-half years, and I accomplished a tremendous amount in those years. During that time period, I went to college and maintained a full class load of 15 to 21 credits per semester while working a full-time job. I got back into running, and ran numerous 10k races, and two half-marathons. I somehow found time to meet my wife, date my wife, and I married my wife in 2011. I graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2012, and our first child was born two weeks after graduation. Over the next couple years, and with a daughter who had serious heart issues, I continued to build my career, and through a series of promotions, an employer change, and then another promotion, I had landed my dream position, which is where I am now. This all happened in six years. I didn’t think I’d ever drink again, and I had no intention of doing so.
Addiction is cunning, baffling, and devious. For an addict, we must be engaging in our sobriety at all times in order to remain in recovery and avoid the clutches of addiction. I allowed my sobriety to weaken by ignoring it. I had other things to do, so I wanted it to be in my past, so I figured "I got this now". That’s where I screwed up, because that's exactly what addiction wants us to think. I was already vulnerable from the stress of seeing my baby girl’s life hang in jeopardy, and I made a very foolish decision and took a drink again on January 7, 2014. It seemed harmless, and it was at first, just a little something to help me relax and sleep at night. As this disease does, it evolved, it progressively worsened,it slowly consumed me, and within a couple years, my life was out of control once again. I was still working, still being dad, still living my life, but was not doing any of it as well as I am capable of. I knew I had to quit, and after trying to quit on my own and getting nowhere for several years, I finally swallowed my pride and sought help. In November, I checked in to a facility and got back on track. I have been sober for nearly two months now, and I feel better than I have in years.
That’s my very brief explanation of where I’ve been over the past few years. My apologies for allowing my duties to slip here at the DN. Rob has been awesome, he's picked up my slack and kept the open thread rollin’, and I owe him a ton. What have I learned through all of this? I've learned that I'll always be in recovery, so I might as well enjoy it. I plan to help as many others as I can, and to have fun and enjoy life with a clear mind and a healthy body. I have a ton to be thankful for, and I will never lose sight of that fact.
If I have one piece of advice for any sober addicts, it is to get a good program of recovery in place. If you have no idea how to do that, contact me and I'll be happy to share some information with you. If anyone is at a place where they feel they may have an issue with alcohol/drugs, please seek help, there are plenty of places to find it. If you have questions, again, let me know. There are many good resources out there (there are also quite a few places who are not so good, so do your homework).
Depending how this goes over, I may share some more in another post, especially if it seems to help. I’ve found that whether I am drinking or not, I will always be an addict. It will always be a part of my life, so I figure I might as well make the best of it. What better way to do that than to try to reach others who are going through similar struggles? You never know, my inane rambling and horrible dad humor might just help someone.
Romans 8:28, NKJV
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.