Let me tell you what - sometimes I'll still be riding a roller coaster. But at least I know when I'm getting on the ride! That's something sobriety gave me.
Dallas talked about this a while back somewhere, and it's stuck to me like velcro. He said he has a relationship with his recovery. I liked that idea. But once I work through the steps and have a spiritual awakening, "recovery" gets transformed into "sobriety" - well at least for me it does.
So I find myself in love with sobriety. I have a relationship with my sobriety. Which means that the quality of that relationship gets better with the more I put into it. Sobriety is not an "event" or a "state of mind". To me, "Sobriety" has a "spirit" that is sent into motion when the man inside me, my soul, is freed from the prison I built around him.
Like many others in the fellowship, I didn't have the ability to be honest with myself in early recovery. I had a belief system that was flawed, and only a spiritual awakening would be enough to look at myself honestly. Let me put it another way - "Sobriety" forced me to take the risk of confronting myself and my belief system.
Here's the example - I know many who still feel this way. I used to believe that I "built a wall" around me. I would not let myself be "vulnerable" to you or anyone else around me. I thought I was protecting myself by building a wall. That was honestly the way I believed early in sobriety. I actually thought I had the choice to let myself become vulnerable with another human being, and if I didn't want to, or if I was afraid to, I could build this "protective wall". There was a song by Simon and Garfunkel called "I am a Rock". This was fundamentally the way I believed.
But I didn't yet have the capacity to be honest with myself. I didn't build a wall. I didn't have a choice to become vulnerable. What I did was walk into a prison that I made for myself, then I closed the door behind me. Then several years into sobriety, like you mentioned, I started feeling pain. Dreadful pain. The pain of lonliness. It hurt so bad that I found myself begging for help from God or anyone who had an ear to listen, and could offer me some hope. Now this is early in my sobriety.
If I would have "built a wall", then I could just as easily take that wall down. But "the wall" wouldn't come down. I tried and cried and begged and pleaded, but "my wall" would not tumble down. You know why? It wasn't a wall; it was a prison. I got myself in and couldn't get myself out. No I wasn't "a rock". No I wasn't an "island". It was no longer my choice. I was a prisoner!
Oh but it sounded so cool - so manly - so tough and thick-skinned to have the ability to "build a wall" to protect my vulnerable heart. Somehow the truth was not so impressive. It wasn't so cool anymore to impose a "sentence" on myself. It wasn't being a "rock" knowing that I was behind bars looking at the "free world" and watching it pass me by. Nothing at all was manly or tough about being punished for "crimes" against myself. God didn't do it - it was me.
God asked me one time while I was in so much pain - He asked "Who is your punisher? Is it really me?"
That was the Truth speaking to me. I was my own punisher - my own worst enemy. God didn't need to punish me because I was doing a far better job of punishing myself.
Do you see the lie I believed? I thought volunteering to give up my freedom and putting myself in a prison as a form of "self-imposed" punishment was "building a wall", and that was a cool thing to do.
Here was my problem. I wasn't a liar anymore. I was honest with you. I was honest with my sponsor. I was honest with my employer. I was honest with the folks who loved me that I hurt. I was not a liar and that was clear.
But what wasn't clear was that I was not capable of being honest with myself. To me there is a major difference between that and being a "bold-faced" liar.
Once again, in sobriety, God was right. He didn't do it. I did it to myself and now I couldn't undo it. I didn't want to be "a rock" anymore. I didn't want to be an "island unto myself". This was pain I never bargained for. I needed help. That help came in the form of building a "relationship". BUILDING a relationship with my sobriety. If I loved my sobriety, it would help me to get out of the prison I locked myself into.
The "spirit of sobriety" was a free spirit and it was chasing after me all along. Sobriety made it's entrance into my life with a sole purpose of having a relationship with me. After years of painful self-deception and self-delusion, I let sobriety have its way with me. I had nothing to lose, so I opened my heart to sobriety. I found a new sponsor and worked through every single step again, but this time around I didn't have to stay sober I got to stay sober - I found the DESIRE to stay sober. I worked the steps with DETERMINATION. I knew sobriety could and would make my life a much better place. Now I wanted a relationship with the lover that had been chasing me since our first date - which was my sobriety date some 10 years ago.
If I look at "sobriety" as simply "not picking up a drink one day at a time", then that type of sobriety is not even near being enough. If I look at "sobriety" as an event or even a "state of mind", that isn't enough either. But if I look at sobriety as a relationship that is worth my time, energy, and resource, then and only then does life get good.
Sobriety has led me to miracles today. I can ride the roller coaster of life and even enjoy myself instead of being afraid. I can learn how to take risks. I can look at myself and confront an old idea without feeling threatened. I can gain the confidence to truly be independent - that is to say I can trust my soul and know my True Identity. I can truly allow myself to be vulnerable, and know that even if pain steps in my path, my relationship with sobriety will caress and comfort me when I hurt.
When I change the way I look at things, the things I look at change. If that's what "sobriety" means, then there are many times when it is enough for this alcoholic.
Thanks for mining this topic again, and thanks for letting me share.