Sucking Hole

I heard it said not long ago that it’s my duty to make recovery attractive.

That impacted me on a number of levels. I have a great life, I really do. Working with families, people in early recovery or those who still suffer is a poignant reminder to me of how good my life is. It helps me to stay grateful when I am exposed to how bad it can be. And it reminds me to stay active in my own recovery because I can have all that pain back if I decide to step away… if I no longer have any defense against that first drink.

Alcohol use for me started out as fun. And it was, but then my alcohol use shifted. It became more of a social lubricant. It lessened my concerns about what you thought of me. Then, more and more I used it to try and insulate me from what I thought of me. Alcohol became my remedy for everything. In the end, I used alcohol as an emotional pain reliever. Relief from the pain of just being alive another day.

So, when consequences forced me to consider no longer drinking, the idea was impossible to comprehend. Life without alcohol? Unbelievable. Drinking was so deeply ingrained in me that it had become part of my identity (most of my identity). When I would attempt to stop drinking, I was overwhelmed with fear, boredom, irritability, guilt, and overwhelming shame. If this was what life without booze was going to be like, I’d rather be dead. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was lacking a solution. By removing booze, I was taking away the only thing that made life worth living. I was taking away my only coping mechanism and replacing it with nothing at all. Just a big raw hole where the booze was supposed to go. Nature abhors a vacuum and removing booze from me left a sucking hole that screamed to be filled. The thought of life without alcohol? Miserable and terrifying. That life could be good without? Inconceivable.


My good friend and sposor died recently. He was a great example of what recovery can be. Not only was he an alcoholic, but he also had Muscular Dystrophy. He had been confined to a wheelchair the entire time I knew him, but not his entire sobriety. He was no longer able to walk after having been sober over 20 years, no longer able to drive for the last 5 or so. In spite of that, he was one of the most grateful people I have ever met. He made sobriety attractive, even under his extraodinarily difficult circumstances. He was constantly concerned about the well-being of others, far more so than himself. The challenges he faced before breakfast were more than I can even comprehend and yet he was generous, kind and a great example of what sobriety can be, even under really difficult circumstances. His life was an example of what a life of recovery can look like. He was an inspiration, a bright spot in this world and he will be missed. 

Recovery doesn’t mean my life is always going to be great, but it does mean that I can behave in a manner becoming of an adult man even when it isn’t. Life isn’t always fun, it doesn’t work that way. However, my life in recovery is always good, always. And I can show that. I am supposed to show that. For the person who sits where I sat, full of fear and doubt, afraid there is no way that a good life without drinking is even a remote possibility. I can show them it worked for me. That the impossible is possible. That it worked far better than I ever dared to dream. I want to make recovery attractive for people who are afraid to want it. I have been there. To show an acceptable way out is my duty. 

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