I remember using this core belief to help justify my reasons for staying on a self-destructive path. As I have mentioned before, I was good at justifying my actions so I could feel better about acting in a destructive manner without guilt or reservation. One of the ways I did that was by convincing myself that I was beyond repair. I had been messed up for so long there was no way to make up for all the lost time, so why even try? Another way I did this was by telling myself, as I got older, that I didn't have enough time left to worry about doing damage to my body; my mind never even entered into that conversation. I globbed on to those sayings we have all heard, "You only live once" or, "Life is better when you are drunk" or, "Life is too short to drink cheap wine." After I quit drinking, a friend reminded me of one of my own sayings, "I don't trust people who don't drink." Nice!
As we continue to work through these negative core beliefs and how they affect our ability to walk the sober path, I believe we will find many repetitive sentiments. One of those sentiments is how we, as addicts, try to justify our actions and seek evidence to support the reasons why we cannot live a life free from addiction. It's so much easier to blame our addictions on something or someone else, right? The moment we own our role in our addictions, the real work begins and we all know that. Subsequently, we procrastinate the inevitable because we are scared of how much work it will be, how hard the work will be, and whether or not we are capable of doing the work. In order to start the work, however, we have to let go of these core beliefs that keep us bound to our former submissive life.
It's too late, I am too far gone
This core belief carries with it many connotations we can talk about in regard to sobriety or the lack of sobriety. We could talk about age? We could talk about health? We could talk about an emotional state? What do we mean when we make a comment like this? In my experience, I have held this core belief in relation to both my age and emotional state.
With age, I have honestly felt that because of my age, whatever damage I do between [now] and when I die would be minimal because there is only so much time left. Ironically, by maintaining that belief and my addiction, I was ensuring that my belief was true. The more I used the less time I would have left on the planet. With that way of thinking, let's get it over with would have been a more honest statement.
In terms of emotional state, I have held this core belief in regard to how my addiction felt so overwhelming and all-consuming there was no way to see a world in which I was no longer addicted. In both cases, we again find ourselves in a problem involving perception. Let's look at how a shift in our perception in these two cases can benefit our ability to achieve our goals of sobriety.
New Core Belief: It's never too late
Age. I quit drinking at the age of forty-eight. What kind of benefits am I experiencing as such an 'old' man? The easiest answer to that question lies in the question itself. I do not feel like an old man anymore. There were times when I looked into a mirror and didn't recognize the man looking back at me. I looked unhealthy, old, tired, angry, and unhappy. There was definitely a chemical component that made me feel that way; I was constantly dehydrated, sleep-deprived, and everything annoyed me all the time. Before I quit drinking, I was the most unhealthy I have been my entire adult life. Today, I am working out every day, eating healthy, I have a sub 50 resting heart rate, I weigh what I weighed in high school, and I feel like a young man. It's never too late.
Emotionally. What kind of benefits am I experiencing emotionally as such an 'old' man? While I truly love the way I feel, physically, the emotional benefits of my sobriety have instigated the most incredible transformation I could have imagined. While I was drinking, I had certainly given up on any growth as a person, husband, father, or in my career. I did not have the emotional fortitude to generate goals let alone actively set out to achieve them. While L. was very patient with me during that time, I know she was concerned about my emotional state. How could she not have been? I was kind of a wreck. Now, I actively set out to accomplish my goals on a daily basis. I have reevaluated my priorities and restructured my life accordingly. I not only feel younger physically but emotionally too because I am chasing my dreams like I should have been doing in my twenties. I see more positivity around me every day and I am able to see the beauty in more things than before. Emotionally, I thought I was a lost cause, but in reality, I was a diamond in the making. It just took me a little longer to realize it. But, It's never too late.
What is the take away from this shift in core belief? I do not care how old, emotionally vested, lost, stuck in your ways, afraid, or uncertain you feel about your ability to gain enormous benefits from your sobriety; it is never too late to take that first step. Feel the benefits and then decide for yourself if the immense benefits are worth the temporary mild discomforts that follow.
It's never too late.