I used to think I was so different. I used to believe that no one could relate to how I felt about the world.
My name is Tim Stoddart. I was born in Philadelphia. I came out of the womb a quiet and stoic baby. The world fascinated me. My mother tells me that she used to be able to sit me in the corner and I would sit silently, intensely observing everything around me. I still do that today.
There is so much about this life that I wish I could understand. I wish I had the capacity to piece it all together. These days I am more content with the notion that most things, I will never be able to understand. It has been a huge weight off my back.
This feeling of restlessness lead me to some dark places.
I can recall an experience in which I was getting my morning coffee. It was 6:30 AM on a cold January morning. I was on my way to work and I stopped at a Wawa. I remember standing at the counter-top, just watching the people come in and out. I couldn’t comprehend how these people went about their lives so easily. I assumed that they all knew something that I didn’t. What was I missing?
I couldn’t deal with being in my own skin, so I got high. I would take whatever you put in front of me. Whatever I could do to not have to face myself and come to grips with my fears. I was instantly a drug addict. I am a creature built on obsession. I dove head first into the drug and party scene. I loved the action, the parties, the experiences and the chaos. I loved waking up with bruises on me and I loved knowing that at any moment, something exciting could happen.
Eventually, it stopped being exciting. Eventually it all came crashing down. It always does…
There was a moment when my mother asked me to go with her to her pre op appointment. I was in such pain that I had declined. The look on my mothers face was heart wrenching. She needed me, and I said no.
She was pushed out of the room in her wheelchair, and that was the moment I knew I needed help. This addiction had completely consumed me. I’ve been thrown in jail, I’ve been robbed, I’ve been beat up. I’ve suffered serious consequences as a result of my drug use, but nothing hit me quite like that moment with my mom. I’ll never forget it.
My mother survived the surgery. When we got back to Philly, my family and I immediately addressed my drug problem. The next day, I checked in to a detox center and immediately completed a stay in an addiction treatment center. I’ve never looked back.
Since that day, I have done more than I ever imagined with my life. Just this last year, I went to Scotland twice to see my family, I went to New Orleans, I went to a music festival with my friends, I went to Chicago, I went to Philadelphia to relax at home. I started an SEO company that works with treatment centers, I’ve even started my own Sober Podcast Network.
I’ve learned that the way to get what you are chasing is to take it one step at a time.
I always try to do what’s in front of me, and I refrain from projecting days or weeks or months ahead of time.
My sponsor always tells me that fear lives in the past or the future. Anytime I am in fear it’s because I am thinking of something that has already happened, or I am projecting something that probably won’t happen. Right this moment, there is nothing to be afraid of. I have air in my lungs, I have people that love me, I have the opportunity to live another day on this beautiful planet of ours.
When I look at it like that, life becomes a lot easier. I stay in the moment because it is truly all I have.
I still have so much life to live. I am 30 years old and I have been sober 6 1/2 years. However, I do my best not to get too comfortable. I hear stories about people relapsing after 20 years of sobriety, and those stories scare me.
My sobriety is and always will be my life’s greatest accomplishment. Without drugs or alcohol, I am forced to look at myself without any buffers. I am forced to be honest with myself about who I am and how I am treating other people. There is no escape from self. We are all living this journey of self discovery and in sobriety, I’ve learned more about who I am than I ever imagined.
It is difficult, but it is magical.
I don’t need anything to make me feel okay. Sobriety has given me the strength to deal with life’s challenges head on. I don’t think everyone can say that.
I never thought I would get to this place. I wake up every morning in a bed with clean sheets and fluffy pillows. I am so grateful for the pain I have felt, because it brought me to where I am today. It gave me perspective on what is real and what is important.
I am grateful for every second. Most days I am content, most days I am happy. But every day I live sober is another day that I am free.
About the Author:Tim Stoddart is the founder and content manager at Sober Nation. He is also the CEO of Stodzy Inc. He loves to run, he loves to read and he loves the blank page.