Last July 4th (2007) marked my fourth year of sobriety. Coincidentally by accident, the day I sobered up was Independence Day. It was to be my new birthday. My independence from alcohol. I didn’t plan it that way. Oddly enough, I planned on getting drunk during the Fourth of July (2003) on a solo RV camp out. Things were bothering me that day. But sobering up was far from my mind.
I had one beer that day. The tavern was dead. As a matter of fact, I was the only customer. I got bored, so I left. I planned on coming back later. But I didn’t. I went back to my RV identify and I began to think about my life. I was facing a DUI charge and it worried me. I realized the court system was going to try to force me to quit drinking by making my life a living hell. Rightfully so–I was guilty. But my attitude needed an adjustment for sure. But of course, I would fake my “sobriety” all the way like I’ve done in the past. So I thought.
A strong sense of courage and wisdom came over me. I was by myself, but all of a sudden I was keeping company with my higher strength without realizing it. I was talking to God and asked him to please make my troubled life go away. At that time, my plea to God meant to beat this DUI charge. But I received a much powerful answer from Him. Not in His words, but by His determination to eliminate my addiction to booze forever.
All of a sudden, I felt the strength He had given me. I now had no desire to go back to that tavern to get drunk. As a matter of fact, I didn’t have any more alcohol that day–just the one beer earlier before His presence.
I am not a religious man, but I do believe in God and the strength of prayer. I very seldom talk to God. Only when I am desperate for resolutions to my problems. But it’s true that God listens. And he was very much obtainable for me that day. There is no other answer why I never wanted another drink from that day forward.
I was pretty much a hopeless, pattern drinker from age 22 to 50. I had racked up eleven DUI charges. By some miracle, I never physically injured anyone–including myself. Also, for that I thank God. My wife used to say that God looks after drunks and fools. Maybe she was right. If I continued drinking, who knows what could have happened. Only God held that answer for me.
For those who want to quit drinking, give it your very best effort. It will be the best thing you ever done for yourself. Drinking and being drunk will ultimately ruin a good life. I know that’s been said before. But those words are the wisest words ever told. Lady luck is ineffective, but prayer is very strong. For those who will not listen or notice the call, I hope you don’t find God in prison before you find Him while you’re free.
The best advice I can offer is to not expect sobriety will bring a complete personality makeover. There is work involved–plenty of it. There is prayer–a lot. Embrace it with a true heart. Never give up. Be proud of yourself each and every day of sobriety. The rough days and nights will come, then pass away. The rough times will make you strong. The good days and nights will truly make you happy. There is so much more in living sober.
At times, I thought I would surrender my temptations and go back to my only retreat–to drink and forget about everything. This pattern is ruthless. It only makes matters worse and it invites many painful heartaches.
My older brother, Mark, quit many times. Then one day he decided he would never quit drinking again and stay drunk. He is dead now. He died a horrible death. He died of alcoholism. He virtually wasted away. His vital organs shut down after years of drinking. He suffered greatly and paid the price. It opened my eyes wide. I was in my second year of sobriety when this happened. I made a potential to myself I would never die that way.
Drinking was like a magnet to me. It sucked me in and I went blind. The addiction was too powerful to resist. For all those years I led myself to believe I was having fun. How crazy is that? It took me 28 years to discover this. I pray it doesn’t take others that long. I have wasted many, many good years.
For me, it was discovering my pattern and thought course of action that worked for me. Giving in was my weakness. Resisting was my newfound strength. I began feeling good about myself. I had a strong sense of pride. My mind became clearer. Good things came my way. For the first time, I felt self-respect and others admired and respected me.
There are times sobriety gets real rough and tough. But by resisting the tumble takes inner strength. As the clich goes, “those moments will pass.” But the important thing to remember is those moments will also return. Sometimes with a vengeance. Sobriety isn’t simple. If it were, why did it take me so damn long?
I have compiled a top ten list of the best reasons to quit drinking. They are:
1) It’s a fact, you’ll never get busted for a DUI again or physically hurt or kill someone by negligent homicide. You won’t wake up in prison for killing somebody while you were driving drunk.
2) Your mental and physical health will be restored.
3) Your marriage or relationship might be saved.
4) Your financial situation will enhance.
5) Your position at work will look better. Maybe your boss, too.
6) Your strength and self respect will be noticed.
7) The things you use to enjoy will return and be more enjoyable.
8) Every effort you make toward anything will be rewarded ten-fold.
9) You will rest easy knowing your car is safe and in your garage or driveway.
10) Your fear of your phone or your doorbell ringing will subside.
There are times in my sobriety I feel punch drunk. My symptoms include, a sense of clumsiness and feeling awkward, sometimes downright depressed. Expecting your new sober life will be perfect and flawless in every way is a misconceived thought. In some ways you will feel you were better off drinking. That you will find is the most idiotic concept. These trials are your demons hard at work. They will get the best of you if you allow them to or give in. Inner strength and your higher strength is the miracle and strength that wins.
It’s a damn good feeling when you can walk into a bar and say, “Hey bartender, make mine one Arrowhead for the road.” One Arrowhead bottled water is for the living. One-too-many drinks are for the dead. Today, I have a case of Arrowhead, not a case of beer and the blues.