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11 Years.

Half measures avail us nothing.

In this case, it applies to my first attempt at surrendering to drugs and alcohol. I thought I admitted that I was powerless over my addiction and my life was unmanageable. But in all honesty, I didn't truly believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity. I thought that I was that power, I thought I had complete control over the idea of restoring myself to a sane state of mind.

I didn't make a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood him. Because, if I did whole-heartedly make that decision, then I wouldn’t have had a very deep-rooted reservation that was lying dormant, waiting for me to slip. I wouldn’t have allowed a certain situation, and the feelings attached to it, create internal struggle and chaos. I didn’t have a strong set of tools in my toolbox to defend myself against the disease of addiction that I took lightly. As a result, I used drugs on June 7th, 2008. I relapsed a little shy of 6 months clean.

But did I tell anybody about this? No. I chose to keep it a secret, locked away so that no one could judge me for faltering on my path of recovery. Did I lie about my clean time? Yes and no. I never told my parents about my relapse and I was lying to them, or to justify this thought to myself at the time, it was just an omission of the truth. I actually believed I wasn’t doing anything wrong. This is the twisted thinking of someone who isn’t clean, but abstinent, still in the grips of addiction. At the same time, I never lied about my clean time in the rooms of recovery. But, that isn’t the whole story and it would paint me in a different light if I left it there. The real reason for this was due solely to the fact that I decided not to attend any meetings for about 2 years that followed that relapse.

Eventually, I made it back to the rooms after I experienced a few situations in my life that I knew I couldn’t handle on my own. My life had gotten out of control and I put myself into a position where I had only two choices: use drugs or completely admit that I was powerless over my addiction and my life was unmanageable. I chose the latter and this was with already almost 2 years of clean time under my belt. I felt like a newcomer, but at my first meeting back, I had to raise my hand and introduce myself to the group. I forced myself to share my experience the past 2 years and how my disease ultimately led me to use, kept me from coming back, and tricked me into thinking I had it all figured out.

To make a long story short, I didn’t. But that was alright. I was ready to completely surrender to my addiction. I was ready to fully admit I was powerless over drugs and I was ready to turn my will and my life over to the God of my understanding, who I choose to call my Higher Power. The day I decided to relapse, I wasn’t ready to do any of that. I took my will back and decided I knew what was best for me at that moment to escape a situation that made me feel feelings that I didn’t want to experience.

Right after that meeting, I took time to reflect on that choice and all the events that led up to me making that decision. I understood that in order to stay clean and live a life free of drugs and alcohol, I had to change the way I thought. Old habits truly die hard and it was extremely important for me to reprogram the way I thought, the way I made decisions, and the way I dealt with my feelings and emotions. I realized that even being clean for around 2, I failed to address the real problem in this situation, which was me.

Once I held that mirror up, metaphorically speaking, I had nowhere else to look except right back at myself. It was time for me to deal with me and everything that I had been ignoring, avoiding, and pushing to the side during active addiction and while being clean. I needed to do things differently because if nothing changes, nothing changes. So, I started to write in a journal. I remember it quite clearly because prior to that specific day, I never wrote anything down. The first thing that I inscribed onto that fresh, unopened notebook, was my clean date: June 8th, 2008.

From that day leading up to my first journal entry, I never spoke, wrote, or really thought about my clean date. Certain people have differing opinions on clean dates or clean time, but for me acknowledging my new clean date was critical for my mental, emotional, and spiritual growth.

I made a conscious effort to stop giving myself permission to stay stuck in the past. I recognized the critical difference between learning from my story and remaining trapped in it while playing this self-victimization card over and over again.

I wore, and continue to wear, my past as a badge of honor. That person then is not the person I am in this moment. Today, I choose to live differently, think different, act differently, and speak differently. I choose to be honest with myself first and foremost, as well as with everyone in my life, no matter how much of a role you play.

No longer will I self-sabotage my life and my evolution through deceit, deception, or trickery masked as justification or rationalization. No longer will I tolerate any actions, thoughts, or motives that jeopardize my recovery and my clean time. No longer would I allow myself to keep things hidden or twist the truth to present myself in such a way that is not reality. I am proud of who I am, which is a product of everything I’ve experienced in my life, both positive and negative.

So, here’s my recovery in a nutshell. I got clean on December 13th, 2007. I relapsed on June 7th, 2008 and I have been clean ever since. Yes, there have been countless situations and events that transpired in between, but the important thing is that I didn’t use any drugs or alcohol. As a matter of fact, the most important thing is that I didn’t use any drugs or alcohol today. By keeping my focus on the day, keeping my mind focused on the moment, it’s made the recovery process much easier to handle. And by doing so, I took all those days, all those 24-hour periods, and put them together to make 11 years on this very day, June 8th, 2019.

Happy 11 years, clean and serene.

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