You get to the point in recovery where it’s simply “on you.” Meaning, early in the recovery process you have people, whether it’s AA or close family/friends (or if you’re lucky, both), that are right next to you each step of the way—constant encouragement and positive reinforcement. It’s like when a parent sees their child do or say something new—throwing a damn New Years Eve party every-time the kid does anything. In the beginning, an alcoholic gets a lot of pats on the back and high-fives—people clap when you say something like: “my name is Joe and I’m an alcoholic—today I am 60 days sober.”
Well, that all comes to an end. At some point it is expected of you to make good choices, and do the right thing. You were once Joe “sober for 60 days” and now you’re “Joe sober for 600 days.” Remember, the non alcoholics were perplexed by our behavior from the start—you may be 60 days sober, and proud—but those who love you have only had 60 days of freedom from your years of crazy and irrational behavior. Never forget that when you quit drinking, you have made the decision to do the right thing. No one stands on the corner handing out sobriety tokens to people who are simply responsible and rational.
Some alcoholics don’t want to initial praise from their peers—they simply want or have to stop drinking. They understand that it’s a life or death situation. They realize, and you can see it in their eyes, that their wife or husband may walk out the door with the kids. It’s a fucking lonely place when the door slams and you’re sitting in an empty house/apartment, holding a bottle of beer or liquor. Thinking back, I’ll never forget my lady slamming the door on her way out—and the sound her car tires made on the gravel driveway as she pulled out. It was the last time I ever saw her face to face. That crunching sound, when a car tire rolls over gravel haunts me to this day. If your loved ones are still around, i’m telling you that you’re lucky–don’t fuck it up because they WILL eventually give up on you.
Some alcoholics need the praise, feed off of it—and think everyone should just forget about their past mistakes. “Hey, I have been doing the right thing for six months now. You can trust me again.” These alcoholics will attend several AA meetings a week for the remainder of their life. That is perfectly fine—but I also think these are the alcoholics that never fully understand the extent of the emotional damage they caused to themselves and others. It’s me, me and more me. I can’t wait until it’s my turn to talk, so I can ramble for 15 minutes.
The latter alcoholic is why I stopped attending AA meetings after my first year of sobriety. The latter alcoholic (more of an addict) is my older sister.
I realized after 365 days of sobriety that it’s now on me to stay sober—I can’t depend on others to make the right choice for me. And, if I have to call a sponsor everyday to remind me of why I shouldn’t drink—then I’m destined to pick the bottle up again.
I lost the weight, I depleted my anxiety, I became a better father and I saw my selfish ways. I am lucky enough to have had the opportunity to hit the reset button. It took some time to reset—but once I did, I knew it was on me. Do or die baby. Once you realize you hit the reset button, that’s when no one remembers you as an alcoholic—some new people you meet would never believe you were a drunk. Your mind and body feel refreshed—and picking up another bottle would mean game over.
I have seen men and women in AA who stagger in and out of sobriety—some even reset their lives only to relapse years later. I don’t want to end up like that—sad and looking like I’m 15 years older than I actually am.