Someone asked me recently about my experience with long term recovery. My first thought was why are you asking me about this? When I think of long-term recovery, I think of guys I know that have been walking this road for twenty or thirty years or more. I have been in recovery more than a decade and my sobriety is measured in years now but there are so many people that I see as being light years ahead of me in this journey. As I am thinking back on our conversation now and I am recognizing that a question like this is always based on perspective. I can remember a point while I was still in active addiction, but I was painfully aware of the harm my addiction was causing me and those around me. The idea of 24 hours without self-medicating seemed like the impossible dream. Shortly after I started attending meetings, I heard a guy share that he had celebrated three years sobriety and I thought to myself, not only is this guy an addict, he’s also a liar. It’s just not possible.
This guy that has asked me the question was a few days shy of three months sober. As we talked, he told me that he really couldn’t see himself hitting the 90-day mark. He’s under a lot of stress and everything in him wants to numb out to the pain. I reminded him of the first time we met for coffee. He told me he couldn’t see himself ever making it to a week. Then there was the time 30 days was never going to happen. I celebrated with him when he hit 60 days. We talked about how he made it through the previous day without a relapse and we talked about how he could do the same thing again today. It’s been a week since that discussion and we are going to talk again today about how he is continuing to make it through today. And just so you know, we celebrated his 90 days this week.
I heard a saying once that I repeat a lot. “Every morning when I get out of bed I’m just as close to the ditch as the last time I acted out. I’m just learning how to keep the car between the guardrails better.” I wish I could remember who I heard say it. What I really wish is that I could think of smart things like that to say. I repeat that quote because for me, it’s reality. I don’t wake up anymore, afraid that I am going to relapse today, but I’m aware that the ditch is still there and if I stray too far from the center of the lane, I will find myself back in it again.
I was once just like the guy I have been talking with. Sobriety was a fairytale I had heard about. I just couldn’t see how it could possibly be real. Today, it’s reality. If you have questions or would like to talk, shoot me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.