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.
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.