Not everyone will respect or appreciate our decision to change or evolve. But then again, the changes we make and the decisions we choose belong to us and to no one else.
At the end of the day, the only reflection we see in the mirror is the only reflection that matters. And in my case, that reflection is mine . . .
A long time ago, I made a decision to live my life a certain way. I did this in order to maintain a sober lifestyle. Otherwise, I think I would have fallen over the edge at a very young age. And had I not made this decision, I think my name would be nothing more than something whispered in an occasional memory or added to a list of local tragedies that somehow fade away in the distance of time.
Throughout the course of my life, I have had my determination questioned. I have had my integrity questioned too—along with my sincerity to this thing they call sobriety.
Yes, there were times when I nearly gave in, and yes, there were times when I walked a bit too close to the edge.
No I have not always been innocent, nor saved, or sinless. I have made my share of mistakes and poor decisions. But above all, I managed to stay on the path. I might not have chosen the proper way in all cases, but I never fell.
I am closing in on something. It is an achievement. More than just the abstinence of mind altering substances, I have maintained a commitment which I began years ago on a farm in a small Upstate town.
I still have the old feelings, so to speak.
I still feel socially awkward and I am often uncomfortable in social situations
I still have an understanding of depression and what it does. I know all about temptation. I know about the little voice that says things like, “Go ahead, do it. No one will ever know.”
The only problem with that is I would know, and knowledge like this is detrimental to someone like me. Even the tiniest slip can fracture the structure, which I started to build more than twenty years ago.
And fractures in this case are dangerous. Fractures create breaks and breaks create crashes . . .
I think I’ve crashed enough for one life. I see no reason to do that again.
My chemical history with substance abuse and drinking was short lived. However, that short period of time was explosive and nearly deadly. It is safe to say that I did my share. It is also safe to say that I saw my share too and there is no need for me to ever return and re-learn the lessons which should always remain unforgettable.
This is why I never want to forget where I came from. I never want to forget my failures of falls because I never want my history to repeat itself. I never want to look up from the bottom again, or have to walk into a room filled with 12-step members and say, “Hello, my name is Ben and I have one day back.” I have been there before and I never want to be back in that position again.
There have been some who have told me, “You could probably have a drink now, if you wanted to.”
They say, “You were just a kid then.”
“You’re not the same person,” they tell me.
I hear this often, but I never listen. This thing I have is not had by many. It is mine and I value it as much as I value my own life.
There have been some who question the theory that alcoholism is not in fact a disease, but more so an emotional weakness.
“It’s a lack of will power. Not a disease.” they say.
But I disagree
Whether it is a disease, a chemical imbalance, a weakness, or whatever people may call it, I have seen what happens to those who choose to stay as they are and never kick the sickness. I have sat on the phone through the deep hours and listened to their stories. In some cases, I attended their wake. In others, I went to visit them in correctional facilities.
I still have love for some of the friends that stayed in the life. And I will love them either way, no matter what they choose to do. But if they choose to remain as they are—I guess I just have to love them from a distance.
And that’s all.
Something I had to understand a long time ago is just because I chose to live my life a certain way, it doesn’t mean others will do the same thing. What I choose is my choice. I cannot expect anyone else to understand or empathize with my decisions. But there are those who do understand. And had it not been for them, I might not be around to tell you that there is a way and people do recover.
There will always be a challenge.
There will always be stress to deal with.
There will always be someone looking to cause doubt, or try to convince me of otherwise.
There will always be drinking.
There will always be drugs around and there will always be someone looking to entice me to the other side. This is fact.
There will always be a good reason to go out, give in, or say, “What the hell,” and trade what has taken me more than 20 years to build.
Last time I used was April 1, 1991
That date is coming up.
I should do something for this