Sobriety; It keeps getting better

December 8, 2017

Captain Michael Morse, retired, Providence Fire Department

I would be lying if I told you I never miss drinking. Actually, that’s not entirely true, I honestly do not ever miss actively drinking; the everyday struggle to maintain a comfortable alcohol level in my blood stream was exhausting. It’s the selective memory of drinking that I miss most. I do have some great memories that occurred during my active drinking days, most of which reflect on moments rather than entire events. Not every day was a disaster, and not every drink led to heavy intoxication. Every now and then I was able to pull off some truly wonderful experiences in spite of the alcohol fueled buzz and constant worry that it would render me useless as the day progressed toward night.

I think it is easy to think of the past as one giant screw-up. That way the thought of drinking becomes absolutely horrific, and the temptation to imbibe much less appealing. But I have suffered enough. My entire life prior to coming to was not a complete disaster. My continuing sobriety continues to give me reasons to stay on the wagon, and forgiving myself for lost opportunities and moments that were not as great as they could have been are tops on the list of gifts I receive by abstaining. Romanticizing the drink is a trap many alcoholics run into, those cloudy memories of lively conversation fueled by a lovely snifter of expensive French cognac in front of a roaring fire in a smoky den, surrounded by friends and beautiful women are fabrications of similar events.


By thinking the memory through I am able to clear the fog and lift the illusion just enough to expose the truth; sitting alone in my basement, isolating from my friends and family, guzzling beer and vodka while smoking packs of cigarettes was my reality more often than not.


But what of the times that isolation and misery were not my reality? Do I have to pretend that my life was a complete disaster to maintain sobriety? I think not. As my days of sobriety turned to weeks, then months, years and now decades I allow myself the luxury of reflecting on the happy moments that occurred in spite of my best efforts to derail them by overdoing it. Just because I acted alcoholically for years does not negate who I was underneath the façade that alcohol built. I was and am a decent person, and had the ability to live a decent life. Losing that ability because of addiction does not mean I didn’t want it more than the substances that prevented me from achieving it; I simply did not know how to keep my priorities in order.
Maybe everything would have fallen into place eventually, and I would have been able to clear my head and get back on track. Maybe not. It is the maybe not that worries me. Had I not had what I call a spiritual awakening, and asked for help in dealing with my addictions I may have never known the peace of mind that comes with living a sober life. True peace can be obtained, not temporary solace provided by chemicals introduced to our system. Once we achieve that inner peace the healing begins. Every moment of sobriety is a gift, and as we move relentlessly forward, those gifts just keep getting better.
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