One Day At A Time
Five small words that mean so much to me today, yet five small words whose meaning I couldn’t grasp for so long. How was I supposed to stay sober one day at a time, when I couldn’t stay sober for one hour at a time?
For close to 10 years, slowly and deceptively, alcohol had taken total control of my life. All my thoughts and decisions centered around when I could have that next drink. When would I be able to get rid of this fear and self-hate inside? Or that awful feeling of not being good enough, despite all my personal and professional accomplishments?
Everything on the outside – my career, beautiful home, wife, and children – looked normal, yet it was quite the opposite. Driven by ego, self-centered fear, and denial, I was the only one who couldn’t see it. I was blind and felt entitled to drink due to long hours, travel, and a lot of responsibility at work. I called alcohol “The Big Lie” because that’s what it did: it lied to me. It was nothing more than a thief. It stole years from life and time from my children and family.
Thankfully change finally arrived. Through a series of circumstances that I can only attribute to the help of some higher power, I let go and decided to get help with my alcoholism. After all my scorecards had just about reached zero, and I had hit both a physical and emotional bottom, I entered treatment at Mountainside – scared, lonely, lost, and unsure of what the future held.
I had experienced brief periods of sobriety through A.A. in the past, but would always become complacent and end up relapsing. My first two weeks at Mountainside were hard, as my entire world outside of the facility was blowing up. I wanted to fix it all immediately, but knew I was powerless. I couldn’t do a damn thing. My only hope was to stop fighting, surrender, and recover – and that I did. I let go and asked my higher power for help. I was told to “put the bat down and stop beating myself up,” that I was a good guy battling an insidious disease. Thankfully, with a lot of guidance from the staff, I was able to let go of my past and slowly start to recover. I took advantage of everything offered – yoga, meditation, acupuncture, ABC, and recovery coaching. Most of all, I learned that it’s okay to share my feelings, be vulnerable, and ask for help. I was given the tools to find out who I was and who I wasn’t, and eventually, I uncovered my authentic self.
I’m not unique nor special, and I’m not the only one who has gone through similar trials. I’ve been blessed with an amazing sponsor and people I can reach out to and ask for guidance. I can trail run, do yoga, meditate, listen to music, write, and watch my children play sports. I was told by a certain staff member years ago, “Matt – remember to always make self-loving choices.” Today, that’s what I do. Today, I know that I am more than worth it, and that recovery is a daily reprieve and gift as long as I put in the work. Is it perfect? No, but I like the man looking back at me in the mirror, and I’ve learned to open my heart and accept love.
In sobriety, I seized the opportunity to go back to school and get my counseling and mental health degree, launching a new career where I am fortunate to work with people struggling with addiction and mental health issues. I can give back now what was so freely given to me. The reward of helping another start their journey in recovery is a blessing. I also have 4 loving and supportive children who see me now as an example of power in their lives, as opposed to just “dad.”
We live with a disease of progression. I strongly believe our recovery is progressive too. The more we put into it, the more we get out. During times of ease or times that challenge me, my sponsor always says, “Matt, you’re right where you’re supposed to be, but don’t forget where you were.”
As long as I put my recovery first, I know that everything will work the way it’s supposed to. Not on my terms, but on life’s terms. I don’t need to know or try to control what the future holds – that’s what makes the journey of recovery so magical. All we have is today, so make the most of it.