“When I think about the world today. Like most parents and grandparents, I have concerns about my kid’s and grandchildren’s future—some days it manifests as fear. But I also enjoy my time with them, which doesn’t include worry. We can love and still be fearful. But I am truly not in fear when spending time with my kids and grandkids. I’m in a place of love then. Simply living in the moment.”
“I was never a lover of hard liquor in my drinking days; I simply loved my beer and how it made me feel. Well for a while anyway. Of course, I always loved my family more, but sadly drinking often came first, even when I didn’t want it to. Thankfully, I found a way to stop drinking and was able to show my wife and kids more love. However, my greatest discovery was finding a love I had heard about and never experienced, which was self-love. After I learned to love myself, and do so unconditionally, I was able to love people, even though I didn’t like them. Love life, even when I was going through unwanted circumstances. And forgive myself, even when I did something I didn’t like myself for.”
I write a lot about finding greater happiness in sobriety. And as my regular readers know, much of it is about my personal beliefs and the many things I’ve experienced in life. But what I haven’t written much about are the times when I thought about giving up and drinking again.
Not that I found it extremely difficult to remain sober mind you, I had support and help along the way. However, it wasn’t always easy. There were certain experiences where I asked myself why I was sober and trying to be a better person. And there was one time very early on in my sobriety when I almost said the hell with everything and got drunk. Fortunately, something I remembered reading in the AA literature popped into my mind and calmed me enough to rethink my anger filled plan—the alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. His defense must come from a Higher Power. Although there would be a few other occasions when I questioned my sobriety, I thankfully never came that close to drinking again.
Besides the support and help I mentioned, I also did things on my own to stay sober, and still do today. Sometimes this involves looking at old pictures of my wife and two children, both from my drinking days and my sobriety, or pictures of my grandchildren. And other times I read various cards I saved from my wife and kids. However, most times I listen to songs that never fail to remind me why I’m sober.
Below is one of those songs titled, I’m About To Come Alive, by Train. I didn’t even know it existed, but the first time I heard it I believed I was meant to. I wasn’t thinking about drinking that day. It just made me appreciate my wife more and inspired me to keep trying to be a good person.
It still does today.
The phrase “my life flashed right before my eyes” came to mind as I was getting ready to write this post. As I was going to sit down and begin writing it, I just happened to walk by my wife’s open laptop and saw her screen saver running. She has it set to slowly display pictures of all our friends and family that we’ve shared time with over the years.
As I stood there watching each picture go by, I began to cry when I saw the many pictures of our children and grandson momentarily appear and then give way to the next. It made me realize more than ever how quickly time goes by and reinforced my feelings of how important it is to live in the moment, especially when we’re with those we love. If you think about it, this is how we actually live one day at a time.
I first heard the phrase “living one day at time” in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Although this was hard to do at different times in my sobriety, looking back now, I was doing it more than I realized. While some days did involve thoughts of past regrets and worries about the future, talking with people at meetings and practicing The Twelve Steps often helped me redirect my thinking to the present and try to be as happy as I could at that moment.
Even today there are occasions when I feel some regret about my past or worry about something that hasn’t even happened yet. But if there is one thing I’ve learned about living one day at a time, it’s to not let the little things bother me in life or remain fearful when adversity comes my way.
Although unwanted events and circumstances have been a part of my sobriety, I have always gotten stronger from them. This often involved using the tools of prayer, people, hope, and self-talk to help me get through them, and those tools have never failed me.
I experience fear much less than I used to. I simply remind myself how quickly time goes by and that Life Is Short. I also try to remind myself of a quote I read several years ago. — “There are two kinds of worry—those you can do something about and those you can’t. Don’t spend any time on the latter.”
As far as past regrets go; I have made my amends to people I hurt, and today I rarely do things that I need to make amends for. I’ve made great strides in becoming a better person than I was before, which I also did one day at a time, and this in itself makes it easier to live in the moment and feel grateful for everything in my life; especially those that I love so much.
Despite what the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says about not having regrets in our sobriety—”we won’t regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” I still feel quite sad sometimes when I think of how my drinking often came before spending time with my family.
Although we did do things together and certainly loved one another, I simply wasn’t always there for my son and daughter when they were growing up, and certainly not for my wife. I even dream of going back in time and being able to spend a whole day with them when we were all much younger.
This song makes me cry when I hear it, but thankfully I’ve been sober almost 14 years now, and my wife and kids know I’m there for them anytime they need me.
I may still have some regrets from the past, but I don’t wish to shut the door on it. My past is a wonderful reminder of who I was and who I have become. A good husband, a good father, and someone who is a better person than they were before.