I had a really good conversation with Bobby C. yesterday from Anonymous Addiction https://twitter.com/mytruthaboutaa regarding addiction, sobriety, and quitting alcohol. It was refreshing to talk with someone who holds a lot of the same beliefs as myself. While on this journey, I have run into many varying mindsets surrounding alcoholism and how to best conquer the substance and addiction. He asked me some questions that I had to ponder for a moment before answering to make sure I was speaking from a place of truth and not from a place of unwarranted knowing. One of the questions was whether or not I believe Alcoholism is a disease. This is a controversial question and one that people on both sides feel extremely passionate about; myself included. Before I get to myths, though I would like to tell you what Bobby and I are trying to do collaboratively.
Bobby and I learned that we have a lot in common with our views and beliefs about alcohol and addiction. We found that we are both very open-minded about what is available to people in recovery and that there is no one answer for overcoming addiction. Another thing we learned that I am excited about is the fact that he is thirty-five years into recovery and I am just over a hundred days so we have a wide range of experience with addiction and believe that will help us reach people in all stages of addiction recovery. We have decided to do a video-cast of sorts about addiction and recovery together and will be doing that soon. Keep checking our social media for the first video-cast and let us know what you think.
Sobriety Myth #9 - I have to join a program
While it may seem the above information does not pertain to this blog and the idea of whether or not a person has to join a program to properly recover, it actually does. Talking with Bobby allowed me to see something I have been feeling more clearly. I have not wanted to talk about it too much because there are a lot of opinions out there and a lot of strong beliefs about what we are all trying to do. For me, the bottom line is helping each other find our own best path to the ultimate goal of sobriety. What's the saying? "Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one." I think it is important to listen to all the different ideas that exist about recovery. Read quitlit books, talk to people, join different groups, try therapy, or any number of avenues available to help you succeed. Unfortunately, the only person who can decide which path is right for you is you.
There are many different programs available to people wishing to recover from alcohol addiction. Some are free and some cost a fortune. Some people swear by them and others do not feel they are as beneficial as they proclaim. The varying opinions about the effectiveness of programs for recovery are as varying as the number of programs themselves. I think their ability to work depends on what it is you are trying to get out of your recovery. A program generally consists of many like-minded people in varying forms of addiction all trying to find the same outcome. This creates a community and connection which we all know are important for a successful recovery. A program may also layout a structure that is helpful for a lot of people. I don't know about you but going into recovery felt like a monumental task in the early stages. Having a fully laid out plan for how to begin walking that path can be helpful. Programs are typically world wide so it is never difficult to find a program whether you are at home, on vacation, or a business trip. You can almost always find your program and participate as a visitor any time you need help. There are a lot of benefits to programs and as I have said from the beginning if your path is working for you, then it is working. Congratulations.
Sobriety Truth #9 - I only have to find MY path
I, on the other hand, did not use a program to overcome my addiction and succeed in recovery. It could be argued that I created my own program which, if you think about it, is kind of the whole point of what I am trying to say here. We have to find our own way. My path consisted more of finding a place in my mind that correlated with the belief I wanted to live by. The belief I want to live by is this: I am me. I am not an alcoholic, I am not in recovery, I am not an addict, I am not any number of negative notions about myself that are constantly pushed down my throat as soon as I begin to label myself as alcohol dependent. I know some people immediately bristled against those statements, and I get it and understand why but here is the thing. I am not saying that I was not addicted to alcohol, nicotine, and other behaviors. I am not saying that I was not an alcoholic or an addict. What I am saying is that I am not defined by those things. Have they held a place in my life? Yes. But so was playing quarterback, racing bicycles, photography, underwater construction, music, and a whole list of other experiences that I have lived. I do not define myself as any of them today, just like I do not define myself by the others.
I am me. I am the man sitting at the computer writing my thoughts for you in the hopes that they will resonate with someone. I am the man who is married to a wonderful woman and the man who is a father. I am a teacher. I am a man who has found a new lease on life and that life is filled with possibilities, new goals, new friends, new love, new passions, and new hope. I am the man who has, for the first time in his life, met the real me and found that I am a badass. I am a writer and I will write my present, future, and life story without alcohol, nicotine, or negative behaviors. I am not an alcoholic, I am not an addict, I am not in recovery, I am not sober.
I am me.