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A Sober Difference



Last night, along with the other football coaches, I celebrated a victory I do not believe many of us saw coming. It is not to say we did not think we could win, I just do not think we expected to win in the way we did. The past year has been a trying year for everyone. Covid has forced us to accept things we would not normally accept and to deal with things we would not normally have to deal with. The football season, for the high school where I coach, was pushed back several times until finally getting the go-ahead to begin our season on February 1st. Our athletes and coaches have had to endure online spring football, try to conceptualize that, football practice in pods of 6 or less, and wetter and colder practices for over 5 months. It has been a long road to get to where we were last night on the football field under the lights on a cold and wet February Friday night. It was game one of our season.


We won 46-0.


I was completely unaware of the drinking habits of others because I was always consumed with the insecurity and embarrassment associated with my own drinking habits

There is no doubt we all, athletes and coaches, both deserved and earned this incredible victory. However, the victory is not why I decided to write about the events of last night. After the game, the coaches and athletes have a tradition to meet at one of our local restaurants to celebrate. The coaches sit in the bar area and the athletes sit in the restaurant area. Due to Covid, last night was the first time we have partaken in this tradition since October of 2019. The last time I sat down with the coaches to celebrate a victory, I was still drinking alcohol. If I am truly honest, I was drinking too much alcohol for the setting. Nevertheless, last night I celebrated with the coaches for the first time alcohol-free. I watched as the coaches drank as much or more than I used to and I realized something. I was completely unaware of the drinking habits of others because I was always consumed with the insecurity and embarrassment associated with my own drinking habits. This became even more obvious this morning when we met for a coaches meeting. I could not help but notice the tired eyes, disheveled appearance, and drawn-out faces of my colleagues. Many were not only hung-over but very hung-over. I thought to myself, I am so grateful that is no longer me.


When we numb our souls to the world around us, we also numb ourselves to each other. In a celebration meant to honor one another, we end up dishonoring ourselves by not allowing our hearts, minds, and bodies to absorb the positivity associated with victory. When we are numb, we are not truly able to experience the full feeling of success and therefore we limit our ability to perpetuate the chain reaction that should follow good fortune. Instead, our good fortune and feelings are replaced with a slow decline in our mental and physical awareness and health causing a chain reaction in the opposite direction we ultimately wanted. What began as a celebration of our accomplishments ends in a period of recovery from our overindulgence. Not only do we have to physically recover, but we also voluntarily give up the right to some of our best memories.


How many times have we woke up in the morning struggling

to piece together what little we could recall from the night prior?


I bring this up because it has been a long time since I have written about firsts as an alcohol-free person. In the beginning days of my blog, I used to write about firsts all the time. The first time I went bowling, the first time I went to a concert, the first time I went snowboarding, etc... I remember feeling a little anxious before each one of those firsts. I learned, however, the anxiety was always quickly replaced with a feeling of relief and accomplishment when I emerged successful in the end. Last night, while watching the beers get pounded, I thought how lucky I was to be physically and emotionally present for such an amazing night and victory. Not only was I present for the events of the evening, but I am also even more present for the reflections today. How many times have we woke up in the morning struggling to piece together what little we could recall from the night prior? This morning I woke up and remembered every little thing that had occurred. I remembered every play, every conversation, every interaction with athletes, and everything I felt during our wonderful achievement. I feel blessed to have the memories I gathered last night.


The differences in the way we live our lives sober as opposed to the way we lived our lives as addicts are not only astonishing but also humbling. Celebrating with full cognition allows us to embrace the joy of the moment and carry that joy with us into the future. It allows us to remember the good things that have happened while also respecting the bad. It opens our eyes to the joys experienced by others and fills us with pride for being a part of not only our own accomplishments but also the accomplishments of others. It fills us with purpose and drive while fueling our always present, but not always recognized, need to grow and expand the world in which we live. True awareness of our accomplishments affords us the ability to see beyond the limitations imposed by society and our addictions. By broadening the scope of our lives, we strengthen our connection to the world and the people within it.


I am proud and I am fulfilled


I cannot tell you how proud I am to have been a part of the victory that occurred last night. But, if I am totally honest, I am even more proud of the other victories that have and continue to occur within myself. I am proud of letting go of my past in order to make room for my more present and aware self. I am proud to be there with our athletes and to honor them by remembering the day and the days of victory yet to come. I am proud to know by honoring them I am also honoring myself and my life. I am proud to actively participate in each day of my life rather than simply trying to survive it. I am proud of the connections I make and the relationships I build with others. I am proud, and I am fulfilled.


I walk into the week ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead because I am aware of and know from where I have walked. With each victory, I gain a little confidence. My confidence affords me the opportunity to develop positive core beliefs about myself and the world around me. Those core beliefs encourage me to seek out evidence and experience to support and further my beliefs. As my beliefs become my reality, I gain the courage necessary to develop even more positive beliefs. The more I surround myself with positive thinking and beliefs, the more I gain certainty that victory is not only probable but inevitable. The difference lies in our willingness to accept the simple fact that we not only deserve success but that we are already successful. We just have to give ourselves permission to believe and enjoy it.

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