I had intended to post a new story yesterday celebrating my sobriety of 25 years. I actually wrote two different pieces, but they just didn’t seem to carry the message that I wanted to convey, so I didn’t post them yet. I will post at least one of them, which isn’t much of a celebration, but is pretty dark a little later.

Thank you to all my readers who re-read the post “The Most Sobering Moment For Me” from 5 years ago, that I re-posted yesterday. I appreciate all the kind words from friends and family.

Almost everyone among us has been touched in some way by a friend or a family member who has become a slave to drugs or alcohol. It’s such a prevalent problem. Since I have been sober, I always have been dis-amused by the fact that beer and liquor commercials have been allowed all these years without more than a warning to be a responsible drinker. That said, I am not on a campaign against drinking, even though it robbed me of being a decent man and father for so many years. It put innocent people in danger of me each time I drove drunk or buzzed. I understand that not EVERYONE becomes a slave to alcohol like I did.

I am very thankful to have the priviledge to be alive today, and a second chance at being a functional and somewhat decent man. It was a very difficult road, especially at first. Most of the “friends” that I made in those years were at least drinkers or substance abusers, and to say the least, I had to tell them all that they wouldn’t be seeing me around, but I still counted them as “friends”. Most of them thought I was crazy, and didn’t believe that I would be sucessful at sobriety. As it turned out, I didn’t really have to leave them behind, because they left me behind. It was certainly a time when I began finding out who were real friends and who were users.

I can’t really remember how long it took, but my mind slowly began to clear, and there came a realization that almost all of the bad circumstances in my life that I tended to blame the world on, were actually created by me. I started to see that I had been in charge of the building of my own destiny, and had bungled it badly.

I had gone from being a decent young man to one of the people that we generally don’t want anything to do with. In fact, I had become a person that even some of my drunk friends didn’t even want to be around if I had had “too much”. Now that’s pitiful. I had hurt many people along the way (mostly family members) who genuinely loved me. Those were the ones, besides myself, who I hurt the worst. Most of those have verbally forgiven me, but many of those people carry serious scars from my deception, theft, and generally bad behavior.

During the worst years of my drinking, I fathered two wonderful children, but cheated them out of a decent an loving father. This is one of the things that still haunts me to this very day. Cheated time can rarely be made up for, especially with your children. I made life tremendously difficult for my two oldest kids.

The realization of all of my folly was a difficult thing to bare. I can’t even describe the feeling of desparation that I felt, especially while going through the first year of sobriety. Even driving by liquor stores that I had frequented was a traumatic experience. The first time I drove past one of those stores on the way to the deer woods was especially tough, but a break-through moment. That break-through didn’t actually occur easily. It involved tears as I fought my demons. When I actually arrived at the place where I hunt, I wept violently, sitting in my truck with my rifle between my legs, pointed at my head, grasping for a way to avoid that battle even one more time. Thankfully, thoughts of the people who loved me and were cheering for me prevailed. Never again did I begin to “act” upon thoughts of suicide, although there were surely fleeting thoughts of it at times.

It was a terrible thing to have gone through, but I always kept in mind just WHO put me through it. There were many AA meetings, which really took me back to my raising, and the thought that I had totally neglected God in my life. I remember the moment that realization hit as well. I wa talking with my sponser before a meeting, and said to him, “I don’t really belong here. I belong back in God’s fold.”. He looked at me and said, “It seems to me that your “GOD” left you high and dry!”. A figurative light bulb clicked on in my head as I answered him. “NO…. He didn’t leave me. I left Him”.

Although I gleaned some great things from Alcoholics Anonymous, the majority of my help and comfort came from my Bible and church meetings. I didn’t care to sit around with a bunch of drunks re-hashing old times. I wanted to learn how to live. I credit a praying mother so much for my life and my sobriety.

My path to sobriety may not be the correct path for everyone, but it was correct for me. We are individuals all, and our paths to whatever destiny we choose will be different. I have suggested and/or shared my path to others before. No one that I know of chose that exact path, and some of those folks are still struggling with life.

My celebration of 25 years of sobriety is not for patting myself on the back, for I should have never been in that place to begin with. I rather celebrate it by saying to others that have friends or family who have ANY type of addiction problems, “DON”T GIVE UP ON THEM. THEY NEED SOMEONE.”. Underneath the filth and corrosion of the garbage that they have admitted into their lives, there is likely the same great person that you knew years ago. In order to succeed, they need someone to believe in them, as tough as it will be. They are fighting demons that you have no clue about. They have spent years unwittingly instilling hopelessness into themselves. They have ALL sincerely tried to quit before,even though it may be hard to see. Those who have no one to believe in them almost never make it.

Beating addictions is a “One Day At A Time” deal. Different people take different paths to sobriety, but that ALWAYS is a factor. I never said, “I want to be sober for 25 years”. Some make it for days, some for months, some for years, and others don’t make it at all. Pray hard and encourage those that you know who have problems. Don’t embed yourself so deep as to endanger yourself or your family to help…It can happen.

I will say this. I am very thankful to have rettained sobriety for 25 years. I am a fortunate man. I celebrate my sobriety by saying, “Now I can start on my next 25 years!”. 

Not only do I get to start on my next 25, but I’m starting that 25+years with my new bride Stacy! She has been more supportive and inspirational than I can even begin to describe. This 25+ years will fly by!