Tag Archives: Alcoholism

Clean and Sober

Today I reach a milestone: I have been clean and sober for 35 years. I have lived more than half my life with a spiritual program that keeps me without drugs or alcohol—one day at a time.

I find it inconceivable that it has been 35 years since I had a beer or smoked a joint. Inconceivable!  (And yes, I know what that means.)

It is easier for me to believe that I got drunk last week and have been lying about it.

But it’s true. 35 years.

These have been monumental years. Years of amazing accomplishments, personal and spiritual growth.

As with everyone my age, big events have taken place. Marriages, divorces, births, deaths, creative accolades, cancers. Huge events. Emotional events. Certainly events worth drinking over, either in grief or in celebration.

truth and loveLife is not easy. But sobriety is its own reward.

All of these major life events are the stuff of the human experience, and I have been fortunate enough to be present and clear-headed for it all.

I think that’s our reason for being: to experience the human condition in all its intricacies.  Booze and drugs gloss over those intricacies, dull those edges, flatten out those highs and lows, fill in the cracks wherein we might mine for the gold placed precisely there for precisely us.

Drinking and drugging is a waste of time, a waste of money, and a waste of personality.

I am beyond fortunate. I am one of the very fortunate ones who have been able to get sober and stay sober. God willing, I will die sober. But I am in the minority. Drug and alcohol addiction is so sneaky, so calmly patient and doggedly persistent, that when we falter, it is there, waiting with a “fix” to whatever transient problem catches us at a weak moment.

But those aren’t fixes. They’re insulators. They’re a horror show in a bottle. They’re death by slow torture, and they take all our loved ones down with us.

I may be 35 years clean and sober, but I am only one drink away from disaster, and I think about that every single day.

Today I will go to a meeting and share my experience, strength and hope: If I can do it, you can do it. And that is absolutely true.

And then I will go about my life, living in gratitude. I am not only grateful for everything that I’ve been given in life, but grateful for every mind-altering substance I ingested that brought me to my knees and introduced me to the spiritual program that gives me solid tools for living.

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The bottle in my cupboard

It has been many, many years since I used to add “a little something” to my coffee.  When I did, it was always brandy, or Kahulua, or some liqueur that goes well with a steaming cup. No longer. Not for many, many years, that.

I always drank my coffee black. Then I went to New Orleans for two weeks and had that magical chicory coffee with sweetened milk, and now I must have milk and sweetener in my coffee. After I went to Italy, I could no longer bear Folger’s, but must now grind my own beans and make my coffee fresh every  morning.

A coffee connoisseur? I don’t know that I’d go that far, but I do love my java. And now I have another passion: Torani’s sugar-free syrups. I discovered them at Starbuck’s, of course, and then I found them on the grocery store shelf. My favorite is Caramel (the vanilla tastes kind of weird to me), but right now I’m obsessed with the Hazelnut. A little shot of that in my cup in the morning with some milk, and I am in fragrant caffeine heaven.

Still. Whenever I reach up into that cabinet above the microwave–the only cabinet on the coffee pot side of the kitchen that is tall enough — and grab that big bottle, I get a little shiver of recognition from the old days, the bad days, the days when I would start my day with a little something that almost destroyed me.

And then I think about how grateful I am…especially since this is gratitude month…and pour myself a nice hot cup of coffee and think about people who are struggling against that other type of bottle, who aren’t as fortunate as I am to have replaced theirs with the sweetness of sugar-free Torani syrup.

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