Desperate then, Sober Now

October 31, 2018

Captain Michael Morse, retired, Providence Fire Department

Living a life in recovery is never without a bit of self-examination. After the initial euphoria of sobriety dies down and life continues to come at us full speed things may not seem as clear as they did when we began our new journey. Simply getting through a day, an hour or a minute without a drink or drug loses its magic and might be taken for granted. “The longer we stay away from the drug of our choosing the closer we are to resuming our old habits” is a saying bandied about in recovery circles, and it makes sense in a weird way. We are not as covetous of our recovery when the struggle becomes less dramatic.

Alcoholics and addicts are wired to crave conflict. The drugs we ingest are perfect bringers of the chaos we are comfortable existing in. When we take those things away, and peace becomes the norm, on some subconscious level the desire to return to the demented excitement we once inhabited becomes appealing. It is the way of the addicted, but it need not be feared. We can overcome our desire for self-destruction, and we do so every time we overcome the urge to succumb to our addiction.

For us, life is a series of battles. We may have lost them for however many years it took to turn the tide and get the upper hand, but get the upper hand we did! When my thinking reverts to the addictive, I quickly remember the intensity of the first few battles that I actually won. Those were glorious victories in a long, long war. There was nothing worse than losing my resolve and giving in to my addictions and nothing better than waking up in a new day full of opportunity with the strength of a day of sobriety behind me.

Now that a day of sobriety is sometimes taken for granted it is important to go back in history, and remember what it was like in the beginning. Re-wiring my brain to do without that which I craved was seemingly impossible at first, but as time progressed the idea that I might actually pull it off became a very real possibility. Just as easy as it is for me to forget those early moments of sobriety remembering them is as simple. By taking time for myself, and actively remembering how it was I am able to better appreciate how it is.

Taking things one day at a time is probably the best advice I can give to a person newly sober. It certainly gave me something to hang on to. I did, however modify the wording to suit my needs. When one second at a time became reality, one minute moved in, then became an hour and eventually a day. Now, I count my sobriety in decades. There’s only two, but what the heck, two is twice as many as one! Having the ability to remember the early moments of my sobriety is a gift I will never take for granted and going back in time to feel the desperation that I felt then helps keep me sober now.

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