“Sobriety” is a term we toss around pretty freely. But what does it really mean? For me, sobriety means being able to park my wife’s mini van without making a total ass of myself.
It’s easy to think of sobriety as the simple absence of alcohol, but I think there is much more to it.
I was a heavy drinker most of my life, starting in high school. I partied with the best in college and found jobs that promoted (or at least made possible) regular drinking. I knew I had a problem, but the label ‘alcoholic’ put me off so I was hesitant to claim it.
When I had been married several years my wife and I started talking about having children. It was hard for me to picture being a dad and drinking as heavily as I did every night. I wasn’t sure what to do…
I decided to quit drinking!
The next day after work I did not stop at the beer store. Instead I went straight home and changed into workout clothes and went for a run. How about some vigorous exercise instead of a drink? Seemed like a good idea.
Actually, it was a pretty good idea. I was able to stay dry for a full nine months. During that time I focused on getting my diet straight and taking care of my body. I was living a healthy physical life…and I wasn’t drinking!
But in my head, the same old circus was spinning around. I was full of doubt and regret. Fear ran my life and held me back from any sort of real success. My temper was shorter than ever and even the smallest offense resulted in a thermonuclear response from me.
After all…if you’re going to react, you might as well over-react! 🙂
During this period we went to visit my wife’s parents. I’m lucky to get along with my in-laws, but staying at anyone’s house for more than a few days makes me crazy. We were going somewhere and I was driving my wife’s van. Her parents and sister were in the back seat.
I parked the van and my wife got out. She said something like “I think you need to back up a little…the front of van is sticking out into the road.”
I went absolutely crazy!
I let loose a blood-curling tirade of F-bombs that left the whole family staring, open-mouthed, at me like they had just seen monkey talk. The response was way (WAY WAY) out of proportion to the situation.
That’s typical of how I reacted to most situations…badly.
Finding True Sobriety
I didn’t find true sobriety until I paired abstinence from alcohol with a “program of recovery”. This program looks a little different for everybody. After all, there is more than one way to get sober.
For me, being sober comes from…
- Not drinking
- Surrounding myself with other people who have achieved sobriety
- Educating myself on sobriety
- Being of service to others
- Exploring and building a spiritual condition
Following this formula I not only feel better because I no longer put alcohol into my body, but I have a framework for actually living my life. I know how to react when someone cuts me off in traffic. I have a plan for when I get a notice from the IRS. I don’t have to explode when someone disagrees with me.
All of these things add up to sobriety for me. If you drink heavily or use drugs and want to get better, think about asking for help. The rewards you find will blow your mind!
…and you will be able to park your wife’s van without losing your mind!