Saturday was my sobriety birthday. I turned eight. Sobriety birthdays are an interesting time. As anyone who has celebrated one knows, it’s a time of reflection. This doesn’t happen with belly button birthdays; no one ever says, “I wonder where I was thirty-eight years ago at this time?” But sobriety birthdays are so precisely counted from one specific date that one cannot help but define one’s life by it. Very rarely in one’s life can a person say, “On this date, my life changed.”
But then there is another side, I alluded to it a couple of weeks ago in one of my drawings. A man is sitting in a chair. Underneath, it says, “Five minutes after the miracle,” and the man is thinking, “Now what?” I think that is what a lot of sobriety really is: the “now what” part. For our first couple of years maybe, we are adjusting to our new lifestyles. I do not care what they experts say, it takes more than 28 days to rewire a habit that one has had for decades. It takes time and patience. We go to meetings. We get sober jobs. We become accountable and responsible. And slowly we get better.
Then what do we do? I think I have really floundered in this realm. I think that if down in the pit of our stomachs each man and woman has some sort of conception of God, I think deep down in each one of us there is also a dream unrealized.
I’ve told this story before, but last year on a retreat, I realized I was not living my life with principles in all my affairs if I was not practicing courage with my future. I had always wanted to write, but never really felt I had any support in following this endeavor. I think most people chalk it up to a good hobby or a noble pastime, but not something one attacks as one might attack business school or another more reputable occupation. Last April 8, I came home from the retreat and before I could change my mind, I started this blog. It was the scariest thing I could have ever imagined.
I will tell you, if you think of the scariest thing you could do and then do it, it changes you.
If you had asked me eleven months ago, what I expected from this experiment, I’m not sure I could have articulated it any more than, “Fear.” I wanted to get over the fear. Fear of failure. Fear of judgment. I think a lot of us have dreams, but then alcoholism and drug addiction get in the way of them. And then recovery gets in the way of them. And living amends. And jobs. And then families. And then justification and realization and the “I’ll do it over summer” or when the kids graduate or when I retire. Last year, I just didn’t want to do that anymore. I didn’t want to get any older still holding on to the regret of dreams unrealized.
Eight years ago, the very scariest thing I could have done was walk into an AA meeting and ask for help. It took an unbelievable amount of courage.
It is time to move on. There’s new fears to conquer. And that is what I am sitting here thinking about: what is the scariest thing I can do this year. And then how am I going to do it? That is my birthday present to me, cause I didn’t get sober to sit in the back of the room.
I don’t know what your scariest thing is, but I hope when you’re driving home tonight or cooking dinner, you think about it. And then I hope sometime before your next birthday, you do it. It’ll change you.