It was a nightmare. A waking nightmare. A waking nightmare from which I could not be roused. That was my life before. I have difficulty remembering (with sufficient force) how awful it was. Remembering the relentlessness of my alcoholism for the last five years of my disease is heartbreaking. Even at the time, I felt possessed, haunted. I would try so hard. After work on my way to the liquor store, I would practice my mantra. Attempting to control my drinking, I would tell myself,  “I’m just going to get a quart of beer and one shot of vodka” I would practice it over and over again on the way there, only to grab the beer and tell the guy, “A pint of Popov, please.” The guy knew me, I was a regular… I wonder if he ever registered the look of horror in my eyes as I vocalized the words I did not want to say. Alcohol was my master. I did its bidding. It even controlled what I said.

I recall with disbelief one time in particular. I had arrived home with the quart of cheap vodka I was trying very hard not to want. I mustered up my strength and poured it down the drain. Well, some of it. I couldn’t bear to see it go to waste, so I leaned into the stream flowing from the bottle and lapped it up like a dog from a garden hose! Another time, after repeating the haunted alcohol order, I threw the damn (nearly full) bottle out of my truck window into a field, only to turn around two blocks later, go back, and trek off into the knee-deep summer weeds to find my manipulative friend. I was not too happy I found it… a failure in success.

I could control neither my mind nor my body, for that matter. From falling around when thoroughly drunk, ruinously hungover when not, or suffering through alcoholic withdrawals if I had succeeded in not drinking for a bit, the constant obsession of the next drink was relentless. My mind and body were not my own. I was a zombie, but instead of brains, I mindlessly sought alcohol. Tottering about, moaning, “Must drink beeeeer!” Barf. That was my life. I had been at it so long it seemed the only way for me. I saw no way out. I couldn’t. Being drunk all the time was awful, but being sober was even worse.

The ease with which I live my life sober now is astonishing. Life is so good I feel lazy. I do way more than I did while still in active alcoholism, but it’s fulfilling, rewarding, and simple. Life seemed so complicated before. I made it so complicated before. Now, I pray, meditate, and try to be of service to my fellows. I remember to be grateful. I try to do these things every day. Why? Because I eat every day, brush my teeth, and shower. Some things just need to be done regularly. I do it because it’s right and good. I do it because I have been granted freedom from a seemingly hopeless situation, and that’s a debt I will die trying to repay. More importantly, I do it because I like it! I have never met anyone who said, “I wish I hadn’t gotten sober.” This is a great life. I’m not going to stop.

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