“The best mind-altering substance is the truth”.
I know these seem like words that my sponsor should have said to me in my first 90 days of sobriety. Truth be told, he said them to me this week. My initial reaction was to become irritated. I just celebrated 4 years of sobriety in July- a huge milestone. Doesn’t he see how good my life is today? I’m working hard, have a beautiful wife, and am working to spread the message of recovery to those who are still struggling.
And then I laughed at myself- it’s amazing how fast my character defects of false pride, ego, and self-will can come back. I practiced the tools that I have been taught- pause, reflect, take guidance, and surrender. I quickly saw that he was right. Despite the fact that my life is leaps and bounds better than it was four years ago, I still have room to grow.
My sponsor pointed out to me that even though I am no longer drinking or using, I still have things outside of myself that I rely on to alter my mood. Smoking and chewing are, perhaps, the biggest ones. I also struggle with gambling and have noticed myself getting deeper into it. Despite just getting married to a wonderful woman, he pointed out that I don’t give her as much of my time as she deserves often because I am on my phone. As I said, it was irritating to have these things pointed out to me but my reaction showed that my sponsor was right on. I knew it was time again to jump.
When my grandfather passed away of lung cancer last month, I resolved to quit. I started the process and was using nicotine patches. I ran out and justified smoking once again. Looking back, I can see how I had set myself up for this relapse. Gambling used to be about the game and having fun with friends. Recently, I’ve noticed myself betting more and more money and not being able to focus on the people I am with. My mind races about whether I will win or lose and it directly impacts my mood. It’s the same insane cycle I was locked in to when I was drinking or using.
So, here I am. At another jumping off point. Despite my accomplishments in sobriety, there is always work to do. I am beyond grateful to have a sponsor who will not allow me to rest on my laurels. He spits nails and, although they hurt, they’re necessary. I’ve realized that I need to stay connected to the people who hold me accountable in my recovery, and my life. I need to re-immerse myself in service work, spreading the message to other alcoholics, and not becoming complacent. It’s a tall order but I am confident it can be done. I just need to stay accountable to people- and that includes you! Stay tuned to see how it goes…