One More Day

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.

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Depression, Ain’t It A Bitch?

Don’t take the title of this post as a joke about depression; I know there are varying levels of depression with some so severe that it can result in suicide. I also know when I went through a mild depression early in my sobriety, all I wanted was for the way I was feeling to end.

I actually began to understand why some people commit suicide. I wasn’t suicidal myself, but I desperately wanted the deep sadness and dread I felt to end. I would have taken medication if necessary, but I was fortunate to talk to a therapist and they helped me believe I could be OK on my own.

I do know, however, that some people need help through therapy and medication, and I wish more people would seek support.

Through my bout with depression, I had the fortune of not only talking with a therapist, but also receiving support in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. It helped to hear how others with more severe problems than me dealt with depression and were still able to get through it. They also said how they learned to recognize warning signs of depression and became better at combating the sometimes debilitating emotions that come with it. Some even said they were eventually able to reduce any medications they were on, or stop using them all together.

There are many factors involved in depression, and I want to make it clear that some people need medication to help them because of their brain chemistry. However, studies show that along with medication, when people get professional help and talk to others who have problems with depression, they stand a better chance of recovering from it. Click on National Institute of Mental Health for information on depression.

As I said, I was fortunate because of the many people who helped me, but I also prayed for help.  Maybe just the act of praying and accepting help from others did the trick, but this period in my life would actually reinforce my growing hope that something created life and the universe for a reason. It certainly taught me to never be afraid to get help from any source possible when I need it.

 

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Negative Thinking

“When it rains it pours.”  “That’s just my luck.”  “Why do things always have to happen to me?”  Do you or someone you know say any of these things when something goes wrong in life? Although statements like these may seem harmless, studies show that speaking negatively can actually help perpetuate negative events in our lives. Studies also show that not only should we be careful with what we say, but more importantly what we think. Our thoughts are more powerful than you might imagine, and when we think and speak negatively, it can lead to a very problematic life.

It took a few years in my sobriety before I started changing my thoughts to more positive ones, and it was well worth the effort. Today, I have very few problems in my life, and even when I do, I use them as a chance to grow.  

I’ve learned that stopping negative thoughts as quickly as I can and watching what I say helps me live a happier and more useful life.  Not a  perfect one, but a better one than when I was drinking.  That life, while not always miserable, sure seemed that way because of my negative thinking.

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Sometimes Regrets are Good

I learned many things about myself when I used to go to Alcoholic’s Anonymous and do the Steps, but I didn’t always agree with everything I read in the literature. One of those things was one of the Promises written in the Big Book…”we will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” Even with thirteen years of continuous sobriety under my belt, I still feel some regret for not being a better father and husband than I was.

I do, however, agree with the last part of that Promise, and I actually use the way I feel to help others. I explain to people that we can use the sadness, and in many cases anger we feel towards ourselves, to help motivate us to be a better person today.

I get emotional at times when speaking about my past, but quite a few people have told me they feel a connection when I cry. You’d be surprised at how many people relate to feelings of sadness and anger for past regrets, and how much better they feel hearing someone talk about it.

Sometimes regrets are good. Especially when they can help us remember we’re no longer who we used to be. I’m not the same person I was in my drinking days and I’m glad I’m able to use the way I feel about my past to help others.

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A Reason for Everything?

When something good happens it’s fairly easy to say there was a reason for it. However, when some random tragedy occurs that doesn’t seem to have any meaning to it, can we possibly say there’s a reason for everything?

When I consider some of the tragic events that take place in people’s lives, and the world, I wonder what meaning any of it could have. However, tragedies aside, I have learned to use unwanted circumstances in my life as a way to grow stronger, and find meaning to why I went through what I did.

Maintaining gratefulness for what’s good in my life during rough times helps, and so does talking to people who have gone through far worse things than us. I’ve met people who lost children and became inspired by their stories. They not only spoke of their tragedy, but how they fought to make sense of it. The end result was that they found a way to survive one of the hardest things a parent can go through, and eventually return to some level of happiness again.   

I don’t pretend to fully understand why some people go through the awful things they do, or why there has to be tragedy in the world at all, but I still try to believe there’s a reason for everything. I remind myself of the good things that happen in our world, and think about all the stories I’ve heard from people who survived horrific events and were able to find meaning to them. Stories that may not prove there’s a reason for everything, but hopefully inspires us all to be more grateful in life and see how our experiences can help others.

Perhaps this is the best way for us to add meaning to our lives, and the events that take place in them. The good things, the bad things, and the things we don’t understand.

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Grateful To Have Met You

It’s hard for me to accept negative events in my life, and I hope I never have to go through any of the tragic, and often traumatic events that some people do. But I’ve met those who have experienced horrific things in their life and made it through them. Some said they actually became stronger because of their ordeal, and gave credit to not being afraid to ask for the help they needed. They also told me they were able to find some level of happiness in their lives again.

Although seeking help can be hard for some people, the choice to be happy can be even harder.  However, the people I mentioned did make a choice, and some said they were also eventually able to feel grateful for the good things in their lives again. I want to thank them because their stories give me hope that if I were to ever experience a tragedy in my life, I too could make it through and perhaps also find happiness again.

I’m certainly grateful to have met these people, and promise to pass their inspirational stories along to others who need to hear them.

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