Celebrating Four Years

Edited by Paul Alexander

Last updated July 30, 2014

July 23rd will always be a special day to me. It is the day that four years ago, I finally got clean and sober!

This year, I had been looking forward to pulling out all the stops to celebrate my “birthday”, but after such a taxing July with my grandfather passing away, I decided to be selfish on the 23rd – kind of like you would be if it was your actual birthday.

So, I chose to sleep in and do whatever I wanted to celebrate my sobriety. At the time, I thought that this was a good idea, and I honestly felt as though it was something that I really needed to do for myself. Like I said, everything had been so chaotic and emotional in the weeks before that I turned inwards.

Needless to say, that was not the best decision for myself – or for the many people that support me in my journey to stay sober! What I was supposed to do on the morning of the 23rd was go to my AA meeting, receive my chip and share my successes with everyone else in the group. It is really important to go to these meetings, especially for those newcomers to see that it is possible to achieve long-term sobriety. My sponsor called me when he realized that I wasn’t at the meeting and was not happy with me at all!

I spent the rest of the day feeling bad that I didn’t uphold my responsibility to my AA group and myself. The night turned out better, because my wife got me a cake and we got to celebrate that special moment even though the day didn’t turn out as planned.

The next morning, I wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice. I got up, and headed right over to my AA meeting and walked in to make amends with the group. I admitted that I was being selfish and self-centered on the 23rd and even though I thought it was appropriate (at the time) to take that day to myself, I set a bad example for everyone else – and that was the last thing I wanted to do. It seemed as though I was being harder on myself than the rest of the group was being on me, because they were so understanding and accepting of my mistake.

That meeting turned out to be one of the best – not only did I receive my four year chip and flower then, but the group spent time sharing stories with me about the progress they have seen me make over the years. It was very special to me to hear from so many people – from the person who sees me in Starbucks every day to some of my closest friends.

I realized last week that going to my AA meetings –no matter how much I want to or not – is so important. It was humbling to see that on my fourth year of sobriety, my alcoholic thinking kicked back in and there I was, being selfish at a time when I needed to be open and willing to share. It was a great lesson to learn, and will definitely make my four-year birthday to remember!

Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.