My sobriety date is approaching (December 20). This is the day I said “no” to alcohol in my life. It was four or five years ago. I don’t recall the exact year, but I do remember what it felt like and what it feels like everyday to be without that monkey on my back.
I was lucky to have what’s referred to as a low bottom. Unlike my father, I didn’t lose my family through behavior related to my addiction. Instead, I listened to those around me and myself (finally) and let go of a two-drink per night habit that was inhibiting my emotional growth. I used alcohol as medicine and I no longer needed it.
Last year at this time I gave up social media. I recognized that Facebook (my go-to platform) was a distraction I no longer wanted in my life, so I simply deleted the app on my phone. I sometimes miss the interaction, but I suspected, rightly, that FB (like booze) was doing me more harm than good.
As I write this, I am 22 days into a new but related form of sobering up. I’ve committed to a month of no sugar, pasta or bread. These are my comfort foods. Like alcohol or social media, these foods are the ones I turned to for a chemical hit to feel better. Instead of talking to a loved one or friend about my thoughts and feelings, I clammed up and turned to the cookie drawer or had as much pasta as I could eat.
With all of these substances (and shopping and working) I was trying to fill an empty place.
So, what does recovery mean to me? What did I lose that I need to regain?
In my family of origin and the culture I was raised in, results were the currency that determined worth. If I succeeded, I was praised. If I did not, I was ignored or shamed.
When my Dad left us, I lost one-half of the team that led me through life. I didn’t realize it then, but my parent’s divorce was a messy one filled with unresolved enmity over a great, lost love. It was a financial and emotional tragedy. As a family we lost our sense of worth. We were no longer the ideal foursome we wanted to show the world. We were broken.
Brokenness burrowed deep inside of me and has resulted in a lack of deep trust in others and myself. No matter my small or large successes, my failures were what I saw. I was broken inside and it was reflected in my inability to follow-through in areas where I perceived rejection was a real possibility.
Sure, I took some risks. And I have made my life with Beth wonderful. Slowly but surely, I have been recovering the parts of Scott that got lost around age 12. Thanks to therapy, men’s work, ACA and a whole lot of journaling and praying, I am regaining trust in myself and accepting the support of others. Trust is returning.
For some of you, all of this may seem like high-drama and over-thinking. Count yourself lucky if your family did not experience dysfunction over many generations like mine. Primarily, I am writing this for myself and those who may feel like I do. For them, I hope to be a light like others have been for me. That’s the 12th step.
In the end, we who travel this road end up being much stronger and capable than we ever thought possible. We may not do better than our parents did in terms of possessions, but we possess something better – love for ourselves. The good news of recovery is that it works if you work it.
One day, soon, I hope God removes the last vestiges of my false self (the one we create to survive) and grants me the serenity to be who I am and love myself fully. With every change I make, I am beginning to see with clarity that it is not only possible, but likely.