Marty: I get to live in the now
The views and opinions expressed in following story are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Mental Health Colorado.
It is possible to live without shame, guilt and fear driving my thought process.
Casual drinking, professional disappointments, boredom, socializing, the anxiety of never living up to my college degree, unaddressed family issues—these were the things that led me to alcohol.
I thought it was “normal” when my drinking increased – that I could handle partying a couple of extra days a week. But when I needed to slow down, I couldn’t. I could stop drinking for bits at a time, but the cycle kept coming back. My resentments, my unmanageability, and my destructive behavior were still feeding my disease.
I don’t ever really recall having one or two drinks. I always wanted to teeter on the edge of oblivion.
I didn’t realize it until it was too late, but I had built my life and my professional career around my drinking. As my alcoholism progressed, I was never sure when the need to get drunk would override my desire to stop. In the last couple of years of drinking, I put the bottle in front of my children, my wife, my family, my clients and my well-being. I even moved to a location that had a liquor store and a bar so I could walk there at night without having to drive. I hated who and what I had become.
Something had to happen, or my wife and kids would be gone forever. I knew I could stop drinking for a few days, maybe even a few weeks. The question was, could I quit long enough to treat the underlying mental health issues that caused me to drink in the first place? Most importantly, would it be in time to save my marriage and my ability to be a father to my children?
That decision to commit to getting better once and for all has saved my life.
Having played basketball at Duke University and professionally, I was a proud person. I thought I could figure things out on my own, and that I could push through the pain. If I just worked harder at not drinking, I would be okay. But my will power was not sufficient to bring about recovery. In August of 2014, my former college coach encouraged me to reach out for help. I was so tired of getting beat. I wanted peace for my family and myself.
When I first got sober, I thought not drinking would fix everything. I thought everybody would forgive me for what I’d done, and that I would be the perfect citizen by making amends to everyone I ever met. I was so wrong. As it turns out, my thinking was the problem. Today I know being sober is about changing my habits. That took a while for me to understand.
After treatment, I jumped at the chance of entering sober living back home. I wanted to meet people with long term sobriety and find out how they did it. My recovery is simple; I work a program of rigorous honesty and action. Am I powerless? Check. Was my life unmanageable? Bingo. A power greater than me? Please. Anyone or anything would do.
Today, I get to live in the now.
My sober life is empowering, healthy and fulfilling. I am present and have a new-found sense of awareness. The best part of my sobriety is being able to love my family and be present for them every day. My life gets a little bit better every day living without guilt, shame or fear.
To continue my sober life, I plan to work on my spiritual fitness every day and remain vigilant with my disease. For me, the spiritual aspect is the best part of recovery. As I began to make myself more useful, I started to reconnect with things (mostly nature) and people. Without alcohol in my system, I can appreciate so much more of life. Now that I have these connections, I will not let them go at any cost.
— Marty Clark
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