Every year, around March 28th (the day I got sober), I have the privilege to reflect on how my life was before I got sober and why I so desperately needed to completely abstain from drugs and alcohol.
Today (3/28/19) marks the six-year anniversary of when I went public with my sobriety journey. I reviewed my first entry (from 3/28/13) and I am filled with such gratitude that my perspective has shifted from confusion, fear, and some underlying darkness, to acceptance, faith, love, and light. I promise to continue sharing stories of my past that emulate VC Andrews and Steven King books. But today, I am feeling an extremely powerful God-given gratitude that supersedes reliving the struggles associated with my past.
I had a good day yesterday. I worked, went to the gym, met with my sponsor (a fellow addict that mentors me in sobriety), purchased a few days worth of groceries from Trader Joe’s, then drove myself home to my humble (and cozy) apartment in East, West Hollywood. After unloading my four double-bags of groceries, I heated up some vegetarian burritos and prepared a salad, juiced some ginger, then turned on my Apple TV in my living room, and set the empty Trader Joe’s bags near my front door next to some boxes of items that I need to sort through.
I did my ginger shot (burns so good… ginger is a natural anti-biotic, expectorant, and helps with digestion), brought my plate of food into the living room where I had created a dining space to watch a show on Netflix. I then reached into my pocket and pulled out my iPhone 7 Plus, opened the Netflix app, and clicked on the first episode of the second season of the show, ‘OA’. I then air-played the streaming show to my 60″ TV. The show is about blind faith… how appropriate.
After finishing my dinner, I continued watching and fell asleep on the couch. I woke up after midnight and acknowledged my 14 years of sobriety. I thought to myself, “Thank you God for everything that I have today”.
From an outsider’s point of view, my ‘yesterday’ probably seems relatively “normal”. Now I want you to try on my “sobriety goggles” and see and feel the subtext of yesterday’s journey.
The ability to work is a luxury. I was able to show up for jobs amidst my addiction, but I wasn’t always present and wasn’t capable of doing “my best”. I am grateful today to be accountable. Like everyone else, I make mistakes (not excuses) and I get to correct them.
Working out is an activity that I couldn’t partake in when I was high. I would attempt to work out, but my body became weak and vulnerable. I don’t recommend doing yoga on meth. Cobra pose wasn’t so bad, but try balancing on one leg or breathing into a meditation. Good luck with that.
Today, I am blessed to have a gym membership that I use almost every day. I am not a bodybuilder or “meathead” (nothing wrong with either), just someone that cares about staying in good shape so I can feel good as I grow older. Thank you God for this privilege.
When I was using, I barely connected with anyone. When I did, it was usually from a place of desperation, need, or manipulation.
Today, I still isolate and sometimes act selfishly. However, I am lovable and kind and have the potential to develop strong relationships.
Thank you God for granting me the personality of an empath.
The four bags of groceries included a small arrangement of flowers that I gifted myself because I wanted to reward myself for my sobriety milestone. There was a time in early sobriety when I relied on food stamps and utilizing food banks. I remember going to High Holiday Services where they were accepting bags of food for a food drive. I had brought a few cans of vegetables to donate to “their” drive. I was too ashamed to tell my fellow congregants that I was going to be a recipient of these bags of food in the following days.
Today, I am grateful for each item that I am able to purchase. And every time I see donation bags, I take their inventory. I remember how I felt when I would get home from the food bank. I would see the bags of groceries as mystery gifts. I would take out all of the items and place them on my kitchen table. It was a bittersweet feeling. I was excited to have groceries, but felt that I didn’t deserve the hand-out.
Today, I have groceries in my refrigerator that I was able to pay for with my hard-earned cash. The flowers are perfectly arranged on my kitchen table. I notice each flower and color and think to myself, “Thank you God”.
Why the emphasis on the Trader Joe’s Bags?
The boxes of things to sort through were belongings of my father who passed away about 2 and a half years ago. On my last trip to Dallas, I was determined to help my mom and sister find some closure by going through my dad’s closet and taking what I wanted. I sent myself the boxes that have been sitting by the front door of my apartment for two months. It’s now time for me to find some closure. I am going to use the Trader Joe’s Bags to sort; for keeps, give away, and two bags for undecided items.
Today, I get to practice self care and sort through the boxes. It is time for me to let go of the things I will not use and give them to someone in need.
I remember showing up to a high school reunion with a flip-phone with an antenna and one of my fellow classmates commented “I didn’t think they made those anymore”. Clearly, the guy was an asshole. Even so, the experience left me feeling shameful for not being financially secure enough to upgrade my phone.
Today, I spend way too many hours on my phone. Taking photos and videos, playing casino games, unlimited calls and text, and streaming media consumes a huge portion of my day. It is a guilty pleasure that I get to abuse. Thank God for my materials. I also ask God for help when I am gluttonous with my phone. And I am grateful that my ex hasn’t removed me from his Netflix account. Thank you God for helping me maintain a bridge that easily could have been burned (the friendship and the Netflix).
Today I look at my past as an adventure that has brought me to where I am today. I don’t regret my childhood trauma. It is my story. That’s it. It could have taken me down, but I am resilient. There are times when I get pissed off at the after-affects of molestation. But those times pass and I get to grow stronger each time I get back on my feet. A wise-person said, “Pain is a touchstone of spiritual growth”. Year 14 was my most painful year to date. Thank you God.
Congratulations on 14 years being sober! That’s fantastic! I am so proud of you! And I am glad that you had friends and God to help you through.