“A miracle, big or small, doesn’t have to be defined as an act of divine intervention. I’ve had things happen in my life that could be considered small miracles, and three important factors behind them were having hope, not being afraid to ask others for help, and not giving up. I’d like to believe that a creator of sorts had something to do with them too, and maybe it did? Knowing for sure would be divine. But for now I’ll keep trying to believe that something gave me the ability to help myself, and that miracles, both big and small, are possible as long as we don’t give up”
“If you’re reading this something must have caught your attention—and maybe there’s even a reason for it? My hopes are that whatever the reason, the words alcoholic and god don’t deter you from reading the entire book. This is because my story isn’t about alcoholism and addiction and has nothing to do with the God of the Bible. In its most basic form, this is a story of change through growth, both spiritual and personal, and how it helps us become more confident in ourselves, to love ourselves, and to finally be happy with who we are.” —Darryl Duke
“Is there a god?” and “Why are we here?” are questions I’ve heard answers to many times throughout my life. Some came from people of faith who said there was a God and that we’re here to do his will, while others came from people without faith who said there isn’t a god and that life is what you make out of it.
Although I was never religious, I guess I always believed there was some kind of god who helps us in our lives and never worried about anyone’s answers until I was forty-one years old. That’s when, with everything going good in my life and me being happier than at any other time I could remember, I started doubting this belief and soon found myself feeling sad and afraid. One morning in particular, while feeling depressed and unimportant, I began wondering about my purpose in life, and it occurred to me that maybe there wasn’t a god. A fear like I have never experienced before came over me, and I began to feel empty inside. With help, I was able to overcome the fear I felt, and the emptiness would go away. But over the next few years, the doubts in my belief would still sometimes surface and make me feel afraid. Finally, one day while full of doubt and fear, I decided to seek reassurance that there was some kind of god and a purpose to our lives. Now, at forty-four years old, although I’m still not entirely sure why we’re here, I try to believe that something created life and the universe for a reason, and I talk to it in the shower.
Through that time, I found that reading nonreligious books on what others believed about a god and our purpose in life would bring me some relief from the fear I felt. But because none of those books gave me the total reassurance I was looking for, I eventually turned to science to try to find some kind of proof that there was a god. Several things I read actually caused more doubt and fear when it raised the question, “If there isn’t a god, does life still have meaning?” However, as I continued my search and acquired more knowledge about life and the universe, that question was replaced by these: “Does a creator help us in our lives? And, if so, will it help me end the doubts I have and overcome my fears?” And now, with those questions slowly being answered, not only do I believe more in the possibility of a creator, but I also believe more in myself.
I wonder sometimes, though, if this need for reassurance really did start three years ago, or if it actually began the morning of April 27, 1996. That’s when, hung over and on the verge of losing my family, I decided to get sober and prayed to whatever god I thought there might be for help. When I drank, my life would slowly get out of control, and no matter how much heartache, sadness, or worry this would bring, I couldn’t stay sober on my own. Once, when I was thirty, I even asked a former drinking buddy for help, because I knew he had been sober for a while. He told me that the reason he no longer wanted to drink was because of a more spiritual lifestyle he now tried to live. He also told me there was a possibility that I was an alcoholic and that maybe spirituality was the answer for me too. I tried it. But after only eight months, I decided to drink again—why? Did God let me down? Or did I let myself down? Maybe I just wasn’t ready to quit and live like my friend did. But after several more years of drinking, and more heartache, came that frightening morning when I knew I couldn’t go on living the way I was.
Today, no matter how unfavorable my current circumstances are, I try to believe that everything will be all right and remain grateful for what’s good in my life. And I also have a lot more confidence in myself now than I had before. I do wonder, though, what’s been different this time than when I tried to stay sober before. Has some kind of god finally decided to help me now that I’m trying to lead a more spiritual life? Or have those things come about because of my own ability to create them? My hopes are that the answers to these questions will unfold as I write this book and try to achieve other things I want in life. For example, I want to try to love people even if I don’t like them. I want to keep growing spiritually and as a person, and become less fearful and insecure. I also want to be OK with not having all the answers to life and enjoy it even more. And finally, if there is something to explain our lives after we die, I want it to help me explain to you why I’m searching for reassurance and purpose.
So, if you’re like me and don’t believe in the God of the Bible or a devil or hell, then read on. And if you’ve also been searching for something more in life, then please read on.
This isn’t an autobiography, but it does contain the parts of my life that helped shape who I am and filled me with the hopes and beliefs I have so far—ones that make me realize that although my journey from fear to belief in myself has been a long one, it’s far from over as I set out to find my purpose.
I am happy to post what I consider a work in progress (I believe there is always room for improvement in certain things we do) that I hope will help others. I have written Five Basic Concepts that helped me remain sober and find greater happiness in my life. You can click here or the tab above to see how the idea was formed.
I wrote about this in my book, and for those who read it, let me add that although I tried to be something I wasn’t throughout my drinking days, and even in my early sobriety, I am not doing that now. I am actually worried that maybe I’m asking too much of myself—I feel fearful at times when thinking about trying to start these meetings/discussion groups.
I may not know what my future holds in this endeavor. But I know that besides believing in myself, trying to believe that something created life and the universe for a reason will also be a part of it.
Currently my faith isn’t as strong as it’s been in the past. In truth, being happy with who I am has been sustaining me while toiling away at a job that I like, but that I’m not fulfilled in. I’m actually thinking about moving back to my home town next year to find people who can help me get this started, that’s how serious I am about it.
Of course, thinking about doing this adds to my fear. But when you write a book called Facing Our Fears, well, I think you get the point.
Here are the Five Basic Concepts of Creating Our Path.
1. We are capable of creating our happiness through the Six Selves
Self-Awareness– Understanding the emotions behind our thoughts and behaviors. Knowing our strengths, but also where we need to grow.
Self-Improvement– Changing negative thoughts and behaviors to positive ones. Seek knowledge in a variety of subjects. Search for answers needed to grow as a person. Be open-minded to others values and beliefs. Practice love, kindness, understanding, and tolerance toward others.
Self-Confidence/Self-Esteem– What do we like about ourselves?
Practice love, kindness, understanding, and tolerance toward ourselves.
Self-Love– the instinct or desire to promote one’s own well-being; regard for or love of one’s self.
Self-Actualization– the realization or fulfillment of ones talents and potentialities; considered as a drive or need.
2. We are capable of changing ourselves for the better
We understand the power of changing any negative thoughts and beliefs we hold about ourselves, others, and life in general.
3. We are capable of changing our lives for the better
We understand how important behaving and living differently is to our sobriety and happiness.
4. We are capable of loving ourselves and others
We become more receptive and excepting of love.
We are able to forgive ourselves and others more quickly.
5. We are capable of being happy with who we are
We realize how being happy with ourselves sustains us in times of uncertainty and unwanted circumstances.
We are able to laugh at ourselves and embrace all that we are.