How To Enjoy Life Sober Without Drinking!
Eight years ago, I decided to dramatically change my life. I was done, I had completely surrendered. I put my hands up in the air and said, “I give up, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t continue living like this.” I was struggling everyday with a severe alcohol and drug addiction. I had been secretly praying for help, praying for some kind of sign or force to get me to stop because I could not do it alone. I had been torturing myself with broken promises, failed attempts to quit and the burning obsession for more. More importantly I didn’t know how to enjoy life sober.
Spring time in Kansas City is always the best time of year. Birds start to chirp early in the mornings, the days are longer, and the outdoor bars and patios start running on high cylinder. My favorite part of spring is the Big 12 Basketball Tournament. So naturally, that would be the last weekend I took a drink and did a drug.
I often hear people in long term recovery say that they were suicidal at their very worst. Lucky for me, I was never suicidal; although my actions and behavior would be classified as that. And anyone looking at me that weekend from the outside would have clearly seen: I was on an oblivious suicide mission!
Wednesday evening would be the beginning of the end for me. I started on a 5 day bender that began with adderall, cocaine and copious amounts of Red Bull & vodka. I didn’t sleep that night. I partied into the morning as my team won their first game in the tournament. Thursday and Friday were a blur for me. Friends of mine came in from out of town to celebrate, there was a bachelor party (I was later told). We bought more drugs, alcohol, bottle service and reservations at restaurants where I couldn’t even ingest my food.
I didn’t sleep those nights either. By Saturday I was begging for sleep. I stumbled upon a few pills to knock me out for a bit. I woke up 4 hours later, with dozens of missed texts and calls from my party friends wondering ‘where are you’ and ‘how soon can you meet us’. Never one to miss the party, I met my drug dealer and started on what would be my very last night of the party. We went to a nightclub, I was full of alcohol, drugs and fumes from no sleep.
To finish the weekend strong, we came back to my house for the after party. It wasn’t until 9a that people started to shuffle out and get on with their normal days. Not me, I had other plans. I was alone and coming down from 5 days of poisoning, starving and dehydrating myself. It happened sudden and started out of control: I thought I was having a heart attack. I couldn’t breathe, my heart was beating too fast, than too slow, than skipping – I was paralyzed! I couldn’t move! I was breathing in and out like it took every muscle in my body to grasp for air. I begged my friends to call the ambulance – they reluctantly called.
Turns out: I had a panic attack. That’s it! A dehydrated, drug induced, insomnia driven, panic attack. How embarrassing?! Yet, how fitting for me to go out like that. I woke up in the hospital on March 15, 2010. My brothers told me they had arranged a bed for me at a drug and alcohol treatment center; and that I would be there for 30 days. Here we go..biggest fear: How to enjoy life sober?
It was at that moment, I surrendered. It was over. My life as a drinker and a druggie was over. This was the answer to my prayers. I had been asking for help for months. I didn’t know how to get it, I didn’t know where it would come from. I was obsessed with the drink and the drugs and I didn’t know anything else outside of that life, but I didn’t want to live like that anymore. God worked his hand into that weekend for sure. Now how to enjoy life sober?
I was lucky: I didn’t hurt myself, I didn’t hurt anyone around me and I got to where I needed to go. Most importantly, He took the obsession away from me.
Fast forward to today. It’s been an incredible journey. I have done more in these past 8 sober years than I have in the first 32 years of my life. Every single one of the promises of A.A. has come through in my life to some degree. I am incredibly grateful for my sober life and my sober world. I have friends that would do anything for me, I would do anything for those same friends. I have gotten rid of all of the garbage in my life and I try to stay on my side of the street (most days). I try to surround myself with positive people. I attend A.A. meetings regularly so I can be of service and be reminded of what happens if I don’t stay sober. People ask me all the time: how to enjoy life sober?
I am a really happy recovering alcoholic. I’m a recovering drug addict that now finds joy in every part of life. Sure I struggle at times, but that’s what I have my program and my sober friends for. I never knew life existed outside of the drink and drugs. I have been constantly amazed at how better my life gets each day, each month and each year I stay sober. Not only is there life on the other side, but life is pretty damn terrific. My new normal is dinner with friends, early movies, late (9pm) ice cream with friends, early morning runs, brunch and watching the sun come up while enjoying my newspaper and coffee.
Who would have ever thought how to enjoy life sober would be about so much more than not drinking. Many friends that aren’t alcoholic often ask me how hard it must be to not be able to drink or how to enjoy life sober. Or they say, I can’t imagine not being able to have a couple glasses of wine at night, “how do you do it?” Well obviously they don’t have the same problem of the ‘One is too many & A thousand is not enough’ syndrome as I do. It’s so foreign to think that at one point, just a short time ago, my life was centered around alcohol and drugs.
Today, the foundation of my life is staying sober and being around positive influences. How to enjoy life sober? I have found a group of friends that I admire and strive to be like each day. They are good men and women that are trying to get through life one day at a time and they always think about doing the next right thing. They are of service to others and are always willing to lend a hand when someone reaches out. Today, instead of trying to be the ‘funny’ guy at the bar seeking all the attention, I want to be more like those wonderful people. They give me great hope. Thanks for letting me share my story.