Today marks three months since I traded in my drinking shoes for a pair of sober boots.
“It’s taken me a long time to get here.”
That’s what I said when I introduced myself at the first meeting. In fact, it’s all I said. Defeated, I was surrendering.
My healing began that day, though I didn’t know or recognize it. I have been fortunate in my recovery, I’ve undergone trans-formative healing in a short period of time. Others have told me that it took years for them to see the progress I’ve made in a few short months.
Physically, I feel much better than I ever did during my drinking days. I have more energy (most days) because I sleep better. My body doesn’t constantly hurt because it’s not constantly processing toxins — well, at least not ethanol — out of my blood stream. That pain was so subtle, subcutaneous even, that I wasn’t fully aware of it most of the time. However, I now recognize just how chronic the pain was. Because I have more energy and I’m not in constant physical pain, I smile a lot more than before.
I’m not living every day in a pit of despair; in complete and utter darkness. That’s where I was. Every day was better than the next. Many people who get to where I was take their own life. But suicide was never an option for me. I live with the pain of having lost my birth father to suicide when I was five. I vowed a long time ago that I would never follow in those failed footsteps.
And so, I felt trapped.
Every morning, I fantasized about a different life. One without shame, guilt, fear, and pain. One in which I felt loved by my wife and son. And most importantly, one without the ever-present craving for a drink. Sometimes, I’d promise myself that it would be different, that “today will be the day.”
Every evening, that promise was shattered when I uncorked the bourbon bottle.
As amazing as the physical transformation has been, the real healing has been in the realm of the psychological and spiritual. My entire perspective has been altered. I am more fully present and more aware of how my actions and reactions impact the world (and people) around me. My sense of self-worth and well-being has improved dramatically. I feel loved and I am more fully capable of loving. I’m not afraid. And I’m not ashamed.
Shortly into my recovery, a friend from high school told me, “It doesn’t ever have to be like that again.”
I’m so glad it doesn’t.