On day 111, I feel that honesty is the best policy–and for too long, I wasn’t honest with myself or others in my life. I guzzled bottle after bottle of alcohol on a daily basis–but if you asked me “Leif, do you think you have a problem?” I would reply, “no, do you?” My sobriety is important to me on a number of levels–it enhances every aspect of my life–from being a father, son, brother, uncle and friend to understanding that being 100 percent honest, though tough in the moment, leads to a regret free life…it sustains important relationships.
My friend is getting married in October. He has been a friend of mine since moving to the Bay Area. My friend sent me a wedding invitation months ago–and sent me a few messages asking why I haven’t RSVP’d yet. Frankly, I was avoiding him because I knew going to the wedding was an impossibility, as Lila would be with me that weekend and it was a “kid free” event. My other friend Kimberly and I were walking in downtown San Jose on Friday and were just about to stop at one of my favorite restaurants, and I noticed the friend who invited me to his wedding sitting at one of the tables outside. I looked at Kimberly and said “keep walking, someone I don’t want to see is eating at the restaurant.” She obliged, and we kept walking. I felt a wave of guilt surge through my body–and just stopped walking. I looked at Kimberly, who is familiar with my recovery situation, and said “no, lets go back there to eat. I have been avoiding a friend who is counting on me, and I don’t want to be a dishonest person anymore. I don’t want to jeopardize anymore of my relationships.” She said “are you sure? We don’t have to eat there.”
We turned around and walked back to the restaurant–and as soon as we entered the patio area, my friend looked up and we made eye contact. He got out of his chair and walked over to me. I gave him a hug and said “i’m not avoiding your wedding invitation–but to be honest, I can’t go because Lila is with me that weekend and it would be hard logistically (the wedding is hours away). I am sorry for letting you know so late, and I really appreciate the invitation.” He simply replied “that’s ok man–thanks for letting me know.” We spoke for a few moments, then went to our respective tables and enjoyed really good Italian food.
Kimberley and I sat down to eat–I immediately felt better for being honest. It was the right thing to do for a friend–and it is another step in the right direction regarding my recovery process. I don’t want to be a selfish person–and I want to preserve, through honesty and communication, the relationships I do still have. Kimberly said “i’m actually really glad you decided to come back to the restaurant.” I was too.
Alcohol, in many ways, led me down a road of avoidance. I avoided: emotions I didn’t want to deal with, my health, my relationship, proper communication, family, friends and the ability to be the best me possible. In the process of avoiding everything that I just didn’t want to deal with–I lost important people in my life. I refuse to let that happen anymore. It was slightly awkward being honest with my friend that night–but that moment of honesty will ensure that we continue to be friends, as opposed to me just not answering, not showing up at the wedding and losing him for good. My relationships mean more to me than that…absolutely. I am not perfect–never will be, but being honest gives me the opportunity to be the best me possible. As they say in AA–it’s not about perfection, it’s about progress…and progression on every level is my current focus.
It’s hard for me to fathom how clear my thought process is right now–it hasn’t been this clear in so long. I have finally come to terms with losing Katie–and another step in being honest with myself is understanding why she left. Just as she had to leave the old me, the drunk me–I did too. I had to drop the old me like a bad habit or I would die before my 40th birthday. It still creates sadness through-out my whole body knowing that I became a drunken, unappreciative and miserable prick–but I can be happy knowing that I am not that person anymore. I can be happy as long as I stay on the right track. I will never forget looking in the mirror in April of 2014 and finally seeing who I became due to my alcoholism–I was simply disgusted. Now, just 111 days later, I can look in the mirror with a sense of pride–but will always keep in mind that the drunk me, if I ever pick up a beer again, will return with a vengeance. It’s not happening.
On day 111 I appreciate my relationships–and will be honest with myself and others to never again lose someone I love.