Staying Sober…24 Hours at a Time.
I’ve been sober for a few twenty-four hours and that’s how I look at it.
I have to take it one day at a time because today is all I have.
I know I’m not going to drink today.
I ask for help first thing in the morning, I hang out with sober people, I exercise, eat right, and try to be of service to others.
Alcohol was my best friend.
I couldn’t exist without it. I spent over twenty years in that relationship and it took away everything I had.
It took away my dignity and grace and reason and tact and integrity.
It took away my sanity.
A few years ago, a saw an old Cherokee Indian tale and it stuck with me ever since.
Here’s what is said:
One evening, an elderly Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.
“The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:
“Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
I fed my wolf alcohol from the time I was fifteen until I was thirty-six years old.
And he thrived on it.
But today I feed it joy. And peace and love and hope and serenity and humility and kindness and benevolence and empathy and generosity and truth (even if my voice shakes) and compassion and faith.
I don’t kid myself.
Alcohol is cunning and baffling and there have been millions of people who have relapsed and hundreds of thousands who haven’t got sober again.
I know how dangerous it is to get comfortable in my sobriety. And if I was left to my own devices I’d get very comfortable.
But that’s not an option for me today.
Today I have help. I have help every time I walk into a meeting. I have help every time I pick up the phone and call one of the handful of people I can say anything to. I have help when I practice what I’ve learned in recovery.
I don’t know why I felt so alone for the first half of my life. It doesn’t matter.
Today I know I’m not alone (and never have been).
It took waking up in my brother’s boiler room, with snot and tears almost choking me, with the weight of the world pressing down on my chest and the desire to die so strong that I would’ve done anything to stop feeling the pain I felt, with over twenty years of living in an alcoholic haze, walking around like an empty shell of a person, to realize that I was done.
And that I needed help.
So I got down on my knees and prayed to a god I didn’t believe in. I didn’t hate him and I wasn’t angry at him. I just didn’t believe.
A few years later I was telling this part of my story to a doctor from Montana.
He looked at me when I had finished and said, “Your prayer was answered Jay.”
I stood silent for a minute, just staring at him.
I couldn’t get my head around what he had just said.
The thought had never occurred to me.
“You’re right”, I finally said. “It was.”
Jay Keefe, Writer and Director of Happiness at The Addictions Academy
National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer
Published Author of “And Drink I Did”
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