Saturday, December 23, 2023

A Reflection on Four Years of Sobriety

And when you get to the point that you cry out for the Holy Mother and the Holy Father, “Help me!”, you’ll realize that you’ve never been alone. That they have been with you, holding you in love since before you were born.  If there was ever a moment where I could say that the Holy Spirit spoke to me, it was July 1st, 2023 about 1pm on Holy Cross Ridge.  I was scouting a section of the Holy Nolan’s line from the Holy Cross OHV Trail to Mt. of the Holy Cross.

 Looking back to December 23 of 2019 one day with out a beer seemed impossible. There is always a reason for a beer. But I made it that day. One whole day without a beer. When you say, “That’s it I’m not doing this anymore”, it’s like losing a good friend. Part of your identity, and the “this is me” idea that goes along with it.  You feel lonely. It seems pointless. You think to yourself, “Man, it’s not that bad, I can just have one or two every now and then.”

 That “friend” is not really a friend.  Alcohol is like that toxic partner, literally.  Your life is worse with them or alcohol in it, but yet, your dumbass keeps going back, subtly acknowledging that you do, in fact, like abuse. Every day without toxic partners is one day better than the one before it.

So, what happens when you step off the train? If you are expecting some immediate epiphany or instant nirvana of some kind, you will be disappointed. It’s not like that. The changes are slow and gradual and they build on themselves, just like your tolerance for alcohol consumption. You will feel alone. You will feel anxious. You will feel like you are missing out. You will be looking for something else to fill that void of your friend.  And just like every hangover you ever had, you gotta suffer all that. There is just no way around it. 

Think of sobriety as a grand adventure. You know what life is like when you drink every day, but you don’t know what lies in store for you in a life of sobriety.  Tolkien has a few great quotes about adventure. 

“Darkness must pass, a new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer.” 

 “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.”

 “The road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the road has gone, and I must follow, if I can.”

Sobriety is the longest ultramarathon you’ll ever run. No hundred, two hundred or mountain multiday is harder than sobriety.  Cesar said, “It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience."  The greatest ultrarunner in the world, Yiannis Kouros said, “Without patience, you will never conquer endurance.”  Patience is the name of the game. You have to wait. You have to accept every moment, every day just like it comes at you. You do yourself a disservice if you distort the lesson that you are getting taught in the moment by having that drink.

Make this your mantra, a saying from the Marathon Monks of Mt. Hiei:

“Always aim for the ultimate, never look back, be mindful of others at all times and keep the mind forever set on the way.”

Thank the Holy Father and the Holy Mother, pray the Rosary every day and be kind to yourself, offer yourself compassion and grace just as they have offered it to you. Start your life anew, set out on your own grand adventure.

 Below is a list of books that I have read and recommend, regarding sobriety:

 Alcohol Explained

 Alcohol Explained 2: Tools for a Stronger Sobriety

 Alcohol Lied to Me: The Intelligent Way to Escape Alcohol Addiction

 Alcohol is SH!T: How to Ditch the Booze, Re-ignite Your Life, and Recover the Person you Were Always Meant to be

 We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life

 This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life

 The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober: Discovering a happy, healthy, wealthy alcohol-free life