I was 18 years old and three years sober. Ever since I went through treatment in the summer of 1978, all I wanted to do was to be a counselor. My counselor had saved my life and all I wanted to do was to become a counselor so I could save lives too. I could think of no higher calling or more worthwhile work. So, I applied for a Counselor Training Program.
Step One of Alcoholics Anonymous tells me that I am powerless over alcohol when I drink it. Step One of Al-Anon tells me that I am powerless over alcohol when other people drink it, or when other people want to drink it. Both treatment programs, and The Retreat (which is not a treatment program) are powerless over alcohol and addiction when the people in them want to drink.
“I don’t mean driving under the influence of alcohol, I mean driving under the influence of anger, resentment, and ego. “You’re in MY lane!” “You’re in MY way!” “You cut ME off!”"
There are struggles we will face in sobriety. Getting sober is not a guarantee that life will be void of trouble. On the contrary, life will be life. Life will have its ups and downs, its triumphs and tribulations, its ebb and flow.
Most weekdays I work at The Retreat as the Spiritual Care Coordinator. Most of the time I am meeting with men and women who have already identified themselves as alcoholics and addicts who need recovery and want recovery, using the Twelve Steps and the Big Book of alcoholics anonymous. They understood that what The Retreat has is a thirty day immersion into the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. What The Retreat does not have is radio, television, computers, cell phones, and much in the way of entertainment. We take people who need recovery, put them with people who have recovery, and let everyone benefit from shared experience.
There is something extremely satisfying to me when I look out the window first thing in the morning after a new snow and see the perfectly clean state of the world. No dog prints, no dirty sand sprays from recent plows, no half melted snow forts. It’s just pure, un-touched perfection! I feel this way often when I know I am starting a new day and living an authentic life to the best of my ability. I don’t get perfection like that crisp morning snow, but I do get a clean and un-touched slate every day! And I do get to take advantage of that fresh slate to practice living in my truth.
Staying sober during the holidays can be a challenge. Alcohol permeates so many traditions associated with this time-of-year. From baking recipes that call for alcohol, to festive holiday drinks that are spiked, to toasts at the end of year, all of these traditions seem to revolve around alcohol. However, now that your life no longer revolves around alcohol, perhaps its time to make some new holiday traditions.
This month, there are a lot of “service pieces” in magazines and newspapers with helpful advice about how to not be sad at the holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah. These well-meaning columns have suggestions on how to change our moods and move away from sadness. However, I have a theory that having feelings that match reality is mental health, not mental illness.