by Jon W. (Sullivan 2003)
There is an old expression about things needing to be hard to be worth it. I’m pretty sure I don’t believe it. I’ve discovered, in sobriety, that life can be pretty simple and straight-forward, if I’ll just get out of my own way.
However, the rubbing together of two conflicting states – addiction and sobriety – creates a friction that can be very challenging indeed. One called me back to a former pain – a return to the scene of the crime, as it were; while the other – sobriety – challenged me to experience the joy, accomplishment and freedom that always felt so foreign. As I progressed in my recovery, the friction lessened as I embraced my new life, but the challenge is to always remember the misery of my former addictive state, especially on the days when things go wrong and I want to blame myself and hide.
As I face that job of believing in myself, of opening my heart to others and of accepting love and abundance into my life at last, it’s important to my recovery for that task to be challenging. It must require my attention and my diligent effort, lest I take it for granted.
I relapsed in 1997 for that reason. I took my eye off the ball and believed I was safe – and I was – until divorce, a painful new love and the disruption of every single routine in my life left me on the ropes, struggling for breath. I won’t make that mistake again.
The prize is before me and I must want it more than anything. I will not make it by merely gritting my teeth nor through sheer force of will. I must work to create a life so beautiful that tossing it aside for the illusion of temporary relief is ridiculous and unthinkable. I must challenge myself every day to my best place and ask for all the help I may need to get there. I must remember that sobriety is my natural state, the one in which I came to this planet. It is my birthright; I am not creating sobriety, but returning to it. Plato said that “learning is remembering”. I’ve spent lots of time with five-year-olds to remind me of who I really am.
I draw into my life others who are a reflection of what I believe about myself. The challenge is not so much to just change my landscape (the so-called “geographical cure”), as it is to change my inner beliefs about myself and then to see the world through different eyes. The world changes when I do. The challenge in sobriety is to take control of my own life while letting go of any illusion I might have that I am actually in control of anything or anyone else. It comes as a huge relief to know this. I know I felt a lot better when I realized I was not the Boss of the Universe. Interestingly, the ass-kicking the Universe was giving me abruptly stopped around the same time.
I embrace the challenges sobriety brings. It hones me and my intention to stay happy and fulfilled. Sobriety is the steel upon which I sharpen my sword of Personal Truth. The friction of this helps keep me on my toes, facing forward and being who I truly am. It whittles away at the memories of the past and fashions within me the knowledge that I am a good man, living in a good world of my own creation. And that I am blessed.
A gem from the TGIF vault, originally published on November 4, 2011.