Lately, I Reflect

Reflection

I look at my daughter, and the first thought that comes to mind is:

“I’d do anything for my baby.  I’d do anything to protect her and to ensure she succeeds in life.”

I mean, fuck man, she is the reason I love at all.  She is the reason I glanced in the mirror just over 2.5 years ago and decided that it was time to love myself.  When all the cards fell and the dust settled—that kid was standing there, looking at me with those big and beautiful, half Filipino eyes.  Do you know what I saw?

I saw someone who genuinely believes in me.  I saw someone who expected me to know what to do next…who trusted that I knew what to do next.  I felt someone walk over and grip my pointer finger, and say “daddy, can we go outside and play?”

I never felt so damn hard in my life.  It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about how that little girl grasped my finger and somehow injected life into my body and hope into my veins.

“Yeah baby, we can go out and play.”

I went from an alcoholic, drinking 10 beers and a bottle of wine per day, to reading books in Lila’s classroom once a month for the past two years. To becoming an expert at braiding hair and a teacher of many activities like ice-skating, swimming and doing flips on the trampoline.

I always made sure Lila was taken care of and loved, even as an active drunk—but I took that shit to a whole new level mother fucker.

When you spend so much time and so many resources on buying and consuming alcohol—you are literally ridding your body and mind of positive energy.  It takes a little while, but when you stop drinking you start to feel and experience (it really is quite the experience) all of that positive energy rushing back into your mind and body.  It’s hard to describe—but I legitimately have a full agenda created each weekend Lila is over…I mean I jam pack the weekend with activities.  In the past, I just wanted to chill inside, wait until the noon hour—then, crack some beers and do things inside. Maybe take a nap or some shit.  Now, I’m up by 6am cooking Ly and Lila breakfast, bopping around and actually looking forward to experiencing new things.  It’s AMAZING!  I look forward to the future because I have so many new things I want to do, and places I want to go.  I want Lila and Ly there by my side, and that positive energy I mentioned earlier, is coursing through my body right now as I write J

When the booze exits your system, along with all of the poison that came with it—I promise you, it is replaced with positivity, a sense of purpose and responsibility.  It just takes time.

I wake up at 6:00am each day and earlier on the days when I drive Lila to school.  I have an overwhelming sense of purpose and responsibility—I know what I have to do, and know what I can’t do.

No more are the days of sleeping until 9:00am on a workday.  Shit, I can’t believe I did that for so long.

Lately

Lila and I went to a Father/Daughter Dance last weekend.  It was such a fun time.  We danced, I met some dads and Lila got the chance to play with her classmates. Before the dance, I took her shoe shopping.  She picked out a pair of “pretty shoes” and a pair of running shoes.  Honestly, Lila isn’t a girly girl—but she did enjoy trying on the various shoes.

I think it’s important, especially now that I’m in a relationship, for Lila and I to carve out time for just her and me.  It has taken time for Lila to warm-up to Ly—as kids get older, they need more time to feel comfortable around new people.

With that said, I am happy to say that Lila, Ly and I have been doing very well.  Though it has taken some time for Lila to warm up—as a family, we definitely hit some mile-stones this weekend.  Lila is having a great time with Ly—and they are doing things together, as opposed to Lila always wanting me around.  Do I feel like chopped liver?  Sort of—but that’s ok.

It makes me very happy to see those two building on their relationship—and it’s nice to have another woman around the house, because frankly, I just don’t get it sometimes.

I trust Ly as a role model in Lila’s life.  She is a successful, mature and very intelligent woman—all of the things I want Lila to grow up to be.  I tend to expect the unexpected in life—so I’m going to enjoy the moments, and always remain cautiously optimistic about the future.

I am trying my best to be a good partner.  Relationships are hard—and Ly and I have had some honest discussions.   I feel comfortable telling Ly things that I may not have told other partners, due to a fear of being punched in the face or screamed at.  Ly is just always calm, cool and collected…which I really like.

All in All

Life is good.  I mean, there are days where I wonder “why am I sitting at a desk 9 hours a day?”  Then, I look at our car, our apartment, our health insurance cards, all of the fun things we get to do—and it reminds me that I work hard, though sometimes painfully, to ensure that we have all of the things we need in life. I appreciate my job, and the fact that it pays well enough that my daughter and I don’t want for anything.  Well, maybe we want to go on more vacations—but hey, who doesn’t?  You know what I mean.

I suppose it’s about perspective.  Often times’ people complain about things, like work, and neglect to look at the alternative.  Or people aimlessly complain without actively making an attempt to change their situation.  At some point, you become the main source of your agony.  Either you decide to change the aspects of your life that cause so much frustration—or shut up and learn to appreciate what you have.  We are a species that always wants more—but I’m trying to live happily knowing that we have everything we need.  If I constantly want more, then I’ll never truly be happy.

Be well and happy my friends.

Don’t Love Me to Death

I felt the urge to write Katie today.

I took my usual 20 minute mid-morning walk down the Guadalupe trail—squirrels were shooting across the pathway, the sun was shining and the random smell of homeless people pee-pee wafted through the air.

Yesterday was a rough one at work, and some of the emotional remnants lingered within.  I dug my hands deep into my pocket, kept my head down, and wished I could walk home instead of going back to my cubicle.  Thankfully I don’t have to work tomorrow—I wrote this week off on Wednesday afternoon, and decided I won’t be professionally productive again until Monday morning.

As I was on my overly dramatic, “woe is me” walk—I suddenly began to think of Katie.  When I feel down, or negative in anyway, which is infrequent since I stopped drinking, I think of the day Katie walked out on me.  I think of what I looked and felt like—how I acted, and the way I treated her during the last 12 months we lived together.  I think about how sick I made myself, and how that self induced sickness infected Katie too.  I was an emotional parasite.

I think of her face—her trembling upper lip and the way she would pucker-up when she got angry.  I think of her crying.  I think of her giving me every last opportunity to change—and I will never forget the look in her eyes and the sadness in her voice when she finally realized it was over.  When she finally realized that the only way to save me and herself was to leave, and never look back.

She understood that sometimes even a selfless person has to make a decision, that to them, feels selfish.  But it’s not selfish at all—it’s simply the right thing to do.

Would I have changed if she stayed?  Yes—but only temporarily, until I realized I can do whatever I want and my biggest enabler will always stay by my side, until the day I die, or the day she progresses from the brink of insanity to complete madness.

Alcoholics and addicts tend to destroy everything in their path, and consistently remain oblivious to the emotional distress they impose onto others…onto the people they love.  For, the only people who remain by your side during the darkest moments are those who genuinely love you—but even the strongest love has boundaries and breaking points.  I broke everything—and have been trying to pick up the pieces ever since.

I will never feel complete until Katie forgives me—and if I remain incomplete forever, the only person responsible is me.

I used to think about her every minute of every-day.  Then gradually, I thought of her less.  But, never will I forget the person who changed my life forever—even if now I only remember in times of sorrow.

I thought about writing Katie today—but I have to let the urge pass.  I don’t want to remind her of the pain I caused.  She decided not to love me to death, and her strength exposed who I really was.  A selfish, depressed drunk who had every reason to be happy yet focused on everything that made him sad.

I am not that person today—but I was reminded that in order to never become that person again, I can’t ever forget.

Addiction is a Choice, not a Disease

I have struggled with the claim that addiction is a disease.  Those who are diagnosed with non self-induced (i.e. a self induced disease is a smoker getting lung cancer) cancer or Type I Diabetes, to me, greatly differ from those who are sick because of poor decision making.  They had no control over their diagnosis—one day they started feeling ill, went to the doctor, took some tests and eventually received some very bad news.

An alcoholic or addict knows they are destroying their body and mind—but they continue to do so day after day.  They continue to drink or do drugs, often times, after being told death is just around the corner.

“If you don’t stop drinking and/or doing drugs, you will die.”

A simple choice is given:  life or death.

I started drinking because I wanted to.  My drinking progressed because I let it—and eventually I became a full blown alcoholic because I allowed my body and mind to get addicted to a substance.  Don’t mistake a bad habit that spirals out of control for a terminal illness.

Someone fighting breast cancer, or struggling to manage a disease they in no way created within themselves would most likely do anything to be cured.  Often times, cancer is terminal…there is no choice.

An alcoholic or addict simply, yes simply, needs to find the courage and self control to stop using—fight through the first few months of sobriety, and focus on staying clean.

Just like an obese person should diet and exercise–or a smoker should quit…an addict/alcoholic should stop using.

Saying that addiction is a disease gives addicts a scapegoat, and is an insult to their families.

“It’s not my fault, it’s my disease.”

“I shot up, or drank a 1/5th of whiskey because I have a disease.”

No mother-fucker, you did that because you are selfish—and lack self control.  You absolutely know you made the wrong decision—and that decision will hurt you and those you love.

Addiction isn’t a disease, it’s a choice.  If you never chose to become addicted to a substance in the first place—the disease you say you have wouldn’t exist.

I agree that some people are prone to becoming addicts—due to environment or family history, but in no way is alcoholism like non self-induced cancer, or some other terminal illness.

In fact, calling alcoholism or drug addiction a disease is an insult to those who have actual diseases.

I was a raging alcoholic, and on the day I quit drinking, I knew it was on me.  I had to stop thinking of any reason and excuse to drink.

“Shit, I had a bad day.  Beer!”

“Oh, a football game.  Beer!”

“It’s Saturday.  Lets’ drink! A beer!”

I can actually come up with many more reasons to convince myself to have a drink, but I won’t.  Do you know why?

Because through time, effort and the support of friends/family—I realized that I was slowly killing myself.  I decided that I would rather live than die of liver disease—or in a flaming car wreck that may hurt or kill innocent people.

I made the choice to stop choosing to drink alcohol every day.  I made the choice to become a better father, boyfriend, son, brother, etc.  And you know what?  Anyone else suffering from alcohol or addiction can make that choice too.

Do you know who can’t choose to wake up tomorrow and heal themselves:  a child in the cancer ward, a mother fighting breast cancer and the kid who doesn’t produce enough insulin.

I’m not trying to be insensitive—but as an alcoholic who comes from a family of addicts, I feel that I’m more than qualified to say that bad choices and self destruction shouldn’t be mistaken for a disease.  All of us addicts have a choice, each time we drink or use, and we have the ability, if we dig deep, to walk away from the pain.

I’ll drive by the liquor store on the way home today, and if I decide to go by a twelve pack, it’s not a disease controlling me—it’s a conscious decision to make a bad choice.

Take accountability.

http://chronicle.com/article/What-if-Addiction-Is-Not-a/237383

 

Disrupt the Two Party Political System

I don’t enjoy publicly expressing my political viewpoints.  I feel that my political opinions and expression take place on election-day, in the voting booth.  I will participate in political discussions with my close friends, but I’m not the type to bait people into arguments or criticize a stranger for exercising their right to choose who they want to support, and vote for.

I appreciate the fact that my friends and family have diverse political perspectives—I enjoy hearing opposing thoughts/opinions.  I don’t view someone who thinks differently than me as a threat, I view them as someone who can educate me and help me become a well rounded, politically engaged citizen.  At times, a person will say something I completely disagree with, but again, it’s not my place to attempt to calibrate an individual’s moral compass.  In fact, it would be pretentious of me to do so.

I am proud to admit, especially during this Presidential election cycle, that I am an Independent voter.  I am not loyal to any political party—I am loyal to America.  I understand that an effective leader can come from the Democratic, Republican, Green , Libertarian, etc., party.  So why would I become a partisan voter and confine myself to voting for only one party candidate?  To me, that isn’t promoting choice or political freedom.

So, I am going to go against my “no political view-point” rule, and tell you how I think America can become more of a democracy by creating a higher level of competition in the political world.  We need to fight against the two party system that has left us with two bad choices for President of the United States.  Yes, I am talking about Clinton and Trump.  I know that we have a Green Party and Libertarian candidate running for office—but I think Independents, like myself, are looking for the fiscal conservative who is more progressive when it comes to social issues.

If you are fed up with politics as usual, I will tell you how we can disrupt the system.  And, if you aren’t a registered voter, yet complain, you are simply part of the problem.  So listen…

Register as an Independent, non-partisan voter.  If you aren’t registered to vote—register and join me as a non-partisan voter.  If you are a Republican or Democrat disturbed by the current state of politics—change your party affiliation to Independent/non-partisan.  Do you know what will happen if you do so?

The people will have more of a choice—there will more competition in local, state and national elections.  A Democrat or Republican won’t be our only choice—and whoever runs for office knows that they don’t just have to appease their own party to win, they have to think of the millions of Independents who call them out on their, as Joe Biden says, malarkey.

Join us Independent, non-partisan voters—and we will see more Independent candidates who aren’t controlled by the political machine in Washington.  We will see more people like you and I, standing there, making sense to the American people.  Frankly, what Clinton and Trump are doing right now makes no sense to me at all.  Their campaigns make our Democracy a joke!

I firmly believe that if Republicans and Democrats synthesized their view-points on a lot of issues, instead of yelling at each-other, this country would have stronger policies and programs in place.  This country would serve the people, as opposed to serving a one-sided political system.  If we vote Republican, we get a smaller government that restricts the freedoms, and discriminates against some of our fellow Americans.  If we vote Democrat, we get a larger, inefficient government that recklessly spends, but offers all Americans the freedoms and rights they deserve.

Why can’t we have a smaller, more efficient government that serves all people equally, without discrimination?  Women maintain their right to choose, and my gay best friend can marry his boyfriend.  My immigrant friends don’t worry about deportation, but understand that we need stronger immigration policies.  Education should be an equal opportunity for all children, regardless of socioeconomics—but we have to address income inequality, together, to ensure that less Americans are living in poverty—and more Americans have access to quality education.

Independents will create balance by not pledging allegiance to a candidate before they are nominated.  Independents simply pledge allegiance to the American flag, and all of the people that the flag protects.  I am tired of turning on the television, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, etc., whatever garbage media source that is spewing hate and perpetuating anger, and seeing two people, one of whom will run the country, bicker like high-school brats.

If we create an Independent voter registration movement, we will change the political landscape for the better.  We will create a free market of political candidates that aren’t restricted by the two party system—and more candidates with well rounded perspectives will begin to surface.  I promise this will happen—join me.  I am a fiscally conservative, socially progressive voter who believes in strengthening our immigration and education policies—and I know we can do so working together.

For Yourself

I dropped Lila off at summer camp, 7am, today.  She actually woke up at 5am, and I slept until 6am.  She loves playing “classic games” on my Chromebook—it is a collection of the games from the Nintendo era (Mario Brothers, Kung Fu, etc).

Lately, I have been up and down emotionally.  I’m not sure what to make of it—but I have been writing in my journal quite a bit, and thinking a lot about the future.

On July 1—Lila, Ly and I went to visit my family in Pennsylvania.  It was a nice trip.  Lila reunited with her cousin, and good buddy, Michael—and she also spent time with her grandma and grandpa.  I was able to reconnect with my parents and sister, and hold my nephews.  Each time I see them, they are a year older—and each time I see them, it reminds me of how fast a year goes by.  It also reminds me of how quickly children grow and learn.

Ly was able to spend time with my family—it was the first time they met.  Of course they loved Ly.  She is a kind, warm hearted and uniquely intelligent person.  I care about her very much, and feel that we have a mature, strong connection.

During our visit, I of course noticed that my Mom promptly cracked a beer at noon, and kept drinking until she went to bed.  It reminded me of when I drank.  An alcoholic will create a time in the day where they feel it is appropriate to start drinking, and as long as you stay within your designated drinking time-frame, then you don’t have a problem.

When I drank—my time-frame was weekdays, anytime after 3pm (I worked a lot from home then) and weekends, anytime after noon—but on football Sunday, I could start at 11am.  I would consistently drink a 12 pack and bottle of wine on Sunday’s, easy—sometimes more.  But hey, I stayed within my drinking time-frame, so that’s ok, right?  Craziness.

Ok, back to my mom.

I knew at some point during the trip home, I would have to address, or mention my concerns about her drinking routine.  She has high blood pressure, borderline high blood sugar and has gained a substantial amount of weight—and she will turn 60 this year, so it’s my responsibility as a son to be honest regarding my concerns.

The day I was leaving, my mom cracked her usual noon beer.  It was just her and I in the room, so I seized the opportunity to bring up my concerns.

“Mom, as your son I feel it’s my responsibility to say what I am going to say right now.  I am saying this because I am concerned about your health, and I want you on this earth for as long as possible.  I noticed that every day you drink a lot of beer, and I am concerned that this could negatively impact your health.  I have been sober for almost 2.5 years now—and the last thing I want to do is pass judgment.  But as your son, I need you to know that for whatever reason you drink, if you learned to deal with that sober, you wouldn’t regret that decision.  A year from now you would be healthier, happier and more energetic.  I love you mom.”

I of course paraphrased, based on my recollection of our discussion.  But my mom didn’t say anything—she just looked at me with tears in her eyes, and said “ok, I know.”

I concluded by letting her know that she is an adult, and I respect anyway that she wants to live her life—and again, I felt it was my responsibility to let it be known how I felt.

I know that my mom drinks to deal with her sadness, specific to my older sister–a bi-polar, heroin-addict  living in total squalor in north Philadelphia.  A week before my family and I returned to Philadelphia, my older sister once again over-dosed and was placed in a treatment facility.  She escaped death one more time, miraculously— only to up and leave the treatment facility to go back to her junkie husband in their dirty hole in the wall in north Philly.

My mom and dad have been clinging onto false hope—thinking my sister will get better.  I keep telling them it’s a lost cause.  Ever since my sister reached the age of 13, she was into drugs and any other destructive activity she could find.

Addiction runs in my family.  That is how we deal with negative feelings and emotions…we suppress them by pouring loads of alcohol on them—and those suppressed feelings continue to be contained, and leak out in the form of anxiety and depression.  Not me, not anymore.  I chose to break that cycle.

If my mom is upset with me for expressing how I feel, I can’t help that.  At 35 years old, I’m not going to sit back and not address the elephant in the room.  I feel good knowing that I left my mother with something to think about.

Either continue drinking and end up with Type II Diabetes in a few years—or stop—and be around longer for everyone that loves you so much.  To do nothing, and enable her like my father does, buying 4 or more 30 packs a week is something I refuse to do.

The trip home, overall, was wonderful.  However, I left feeling a bit helpless.  I can’t fix my sister, I can’t make it all better—I can’t force my mom to recognize she is an alcoholic, and I can’t blame her for my struggle with alcoholism.  I can just love her deeply and hope for the best—pray for her recovery.

I am grateful that 2.5 years ago I decided to remove alcohol from my life—but I realize that it’s going to be a life long journey.  I don’t want another loved one to leave me—or Lila to have the discussion I had with my mom a few weeks ago.

Do it for your kids, do it for your health–and never forget, that to be successful, you have to do it for yourself.

Last Week of First Grade

I dropped Lila off at school this morning.  As usual, I woke her up at 5:45am—and she didn’t fuss at all.  Of course I turned on some Scooby Doo for her viewing pleasure—Scooby Doo is a total fuss deterrent, and for that I am thankful.

I made her french toast and covered it with honey—then added a side of blue berries and gummy bear vitamins. Ok, ok—I didn’t “make” the french toast, I merely tossed the frozen premade slice of sugary bread onto a frying pan and added a bit of butter.

As we drove to school, I began to reflect on the weekend.  We went to a festival in downtown San Jose on Friday called, Sub Zero.  We didn’t stay for very long—but it was nice to see the activity downtown, and we ran into some friends.

My friends (these are the guys I hang out with a lot, and have for a decade) met us at the South First Market, which is a food court type venue that has an array of food and beverage choices.  It is a family friendly location, but does include a large bar area.  I bought Lila a Bay Area priced popsicle for five dollars—and my friends of course ordered several beers.

My closest friends LOVE to drink—and I love them, but it’s starting to get old.  Thankfully my buddies aren’t the obnoxious type of drunks, but since they like to hang out in bars, I get to see my old self quite a bit.

I see the drunk-guy yelling at the television, shaking his fist at the refs calling a sports game…stumbling and slurring his words.  I see another guy being rude to strangers for no reason at all—somehow alcohol consumption turns some of us into someone we’re not…aggressive and mean.  I remember people used to tell me “Leif, I can’t believe you did that last night.”  I see the drunk guy high-fiving friends as he leaves the bar, car keys in hand—I just pray that he doesn’t hurt himself, or god forbid a family on the way home.

Sitting in a bar makes me cringe because it brings back random memories of so much time wasted being wasted.  On the flip side, it provides a sense of gratitude knowing that I’m not “that guy” anymore.

My friends have made comments about me “not hanging out” as much anymore.  How do I tell them I don’t want to watch them guzzle 15 beers and shots of Jameson each time we go out?  How do I tell them I’d rather go for a hike, or catch a movie?  How do I remain friends with a group of guys who need alcohol to socialize?

As Lila took the last bite of her five dollar popsicle, I gave my friends high-fives and hugs–we went on our merry way.

On Saturday morning we went to the mall and did a bit of shopping at Old Navy.  I was satisfied with some of the deals occurring at the store—so I bought Lila a new bathing suit (apparently she has outgrown her My Little Pony swimsuit) and some workout clothes for myself.  Then, we drove home and went swimming.  Lila loves to swim—the kid is like a fish, and can swim for hours at a time.  I enjoy seeing her smile, laugh—and I could listen to her say “daddy” all day long.

After swimming, we ate lunch then went to see the movie Alice through the Looking Glass.  I’m not a big fan of Tim Burton’s recent films—but when I see Lila enjoying the moment, I realize that it doesn’t matter what I like—her being happy is my main objective.  If she is happy, I am happy.  Fucking right man.

I suppose that has been the most thought provoking aspect of being sober for over two years now.  It’s not all about me!  I think back to how selfish I was when I was a drunk.  Our schedule revolved around my first drink—and the night usually ended with my fat ass passed out on the couch with crumbs scattered all over the place from whatever slop I conjured up as the Drunk Chef.  I’d wake up with swollen eyes and a mind and heart full of regret—craving my next drink.

On Saturday, we went to the beach.  We hit up the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and rode the: Cyclone, Double Shot, Giant Dipper and a little train ride.  We dug holes in the sand, put our feet in the ocean—and we hung out so long that I got a hefty case of sunburn.  After the beach, we drove home and went swimming—then watched the Warriors destroy the Cavs in game two of the NBA finals.  A hell of a weekend!

I gave Lila a big hug before she walked into school this morning.  It’s her last week of first grade—and she has done such a great job this school year.  I understand that with a blink of an eye she will be packing up and going to college—and my goal in life is to maximize our moments together.  I am blessed to be a father—I am blessed to be sober—and I’m going to try my best to keep a clear and level head.

We have a big summer planned—it’s going to be awesome.

Bless you and yours.

 

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Two Years

The last time I had a drink was on April 13, 2014.  Myself, like many alcoholics, have to experience loss before we come to terms with our addiction—once we come to terms with it, we either address it or we lose everything, including our health and family.

I vividly remember that day in 2014, as it was the first time I was able to look at myself in the mirror and admit that I had a problem with alcohol.  It wasn’t the additional 30/lbs I gained, the high blood pressure, the constant anxiety or the bottles and cans spilling out of the recycle bin every week.  It wasn’t the hangovers, the blackouts or the yearning to constantly be drunk.  No, it was a simple statement from someone I deeply cared for, followed by the slam of the front door as they left.

“Leif, I can’t do this anymore.”

Once the door slammed, the engine turned over and the car backed out of the gravel drive-way—I knew that was the last time I’d ever see that person again.  The house was silent—it was an eerie, all consuming kind of silent.

I felt alone, and I was afraid.  I felt sad because I realized how much I hurt someone I loved deeply.  Oddly enough, alone, sad and afraid was exactly where I needed to be at that point in my life.  It was the only way I was going to recognize my problem—and it was in that moment of silence I said, “I’m done.”

My choice to drink alcohol stripped me of the ability to feel emotion—it was almost like I was on auto-pilot, just going through the motions of life.  I didn’t feel happiness, sadness, love, anger, etc., toward any particular person, place, thing or situation—I tuned everything out.  Well, almost everything.  The only reason a little glimmer of light shone in my mind, body and soul, was Lila—the love I had for her never diminished, not one bit. Each time I was on the brink of a complete breakdown, I thought of her and that kept me from ending up in a gutter somewhere in the Bay Area.

I vividly remember a moment in time, while watching a Disney film with Lila, that I became concerned about my state of mind.   We were watching the Lion King, and typically during Disney films I go through a range of emotions—I feel sadness, I feel happiness and often times I feel inspired.  You may think I’m being sarcastic right now—but I assure you, I am not.  During this particular viewing of Lion King—I felt nothing.  I was concerned—and that is when something my ex said to me echoed through my mind.

“Leif, you aren’t the same person I met three years ago.”

She was right—and that is when I started researching the impact alcohol abuse has on a person’s emotional and psychological well being.  I was literally shutting down my ability to feel and express emotion.  Quitting alcohol was going to be a massive obstacle and challenge—but in April of 2014 it became a “now or never” decision.

I’m not going to lie—the first three months of sobriety were hard—they were painful.  I still had the urge to drink—but each time that urge surfaced, I thought of Lila—I thought of her smile, laugh and the warmth of her hugs.  I told myself over and over that “I want to make her proud,” and I couldn’t do that as a drunk.  I told myself that “I want to be happy” and that was also something I couldn’t do drunk.  I told myself “I didn’t want to hurt or lose anyone else,” and I would continue to hurt those that love me if I kept drinking.

Since I stopped drinking, my life has changed in so many ways.  I lost that 30/lbs and lowered my blood pressure—I don’t do stupid, regrettable things while intoxicated.  I am capable of having healthy relationships and more effectively able to hold myself accountable when I do something wrong.  I still have a lot of areas that I need to improve in my life, but that will be a constant journey, and whether you’re an alcoholic or not, there’s always something you can be doing better.  Remember, it’s about progress, not perfection.

I think back to when I decided to stop drinking—and am grateful of the support systems that exist for people like me.  When I was at an all time low in my life—there was a collection of people that encouraged me to stay on the path of sobriety—and assured me that “things WILL get better.”  I didn’t believe them at first, but they were right.  Absolutely right.

I am alive and well today because of the choice to stop drinking—and I attribute my continued sobriety to those that have loved and supported me.

I feel again—and that is a huge relief.  I feel like myself again—and that fear of never finding my true self again has gone away.