Of course it is, but in truth that's about the 10th best thing I've discovered from leading a sober life. So for this week's blog post, here are my Top 10 Best Things of My Sober Life after hitting rock bottom on January 26, 2015:
1 - NO FEAR: The rest of these points really are in no particular order but this is my clearcut #1. Why? Because imagine being paralyzed by fear so much that you're afraid to look at your phone, you shudder in a cold sweat each and every time a text or call comes in because you assume you're in trouble for something you did or said while drinking (and most times you don't even remember doing it). Imagine having to tiptoe around your boss's office to avoid his angry glare for your drunken antics, or constantly worry about "who's talking to who" about the drama you created about yourself.
Now, all of that is gone and that's the biggest relief in the world.
2 - EXPERIENCING LIFE: A week long trip to Mexico seems like two weeks, or a 2-day road trip seems like a 4-day adventure because you're not drunk half the time and hungover in bed for the other half. Somebody just asked me this week how I handle so much life on the road without drinking and he said "What's life like?" Well, it was exhilarating to be sitting in a Starbucks in downtown Toronto at 7:00 am last Saturday when Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter walked in. The old me would've still been in bed sleeping it off. On this morning, Carter and I chatted, took a photo, and I soon learned he's in long-term Recovery too. That's one of hundreds of examples of how nice it is to be "with it", and finally enjoying the real side of life rather than getting loaded in a dingy bar.
3 - FREEDOM: It's a real thing. Not having to take the long way around a checkstop never gets old, and it's empowering to drive by a cop and look him in the eye. This may seem elementary to you if you're not an alcoholic, but hardcore drinkers will nod their heads like a bobblehead when they read this. Above all else, it's nice to be able to rent a car on so many of our trips and know Blood Alcohol Level won't be a problem. Travelling across borders is effortless and free. Sober living is win, win, win.
4 - TRUST: This has to rank up near the top, and it's wide-ranging. But the big one is the security that my wife and family feels about me now when I'm off on my own. There are no worries that I'll get into trouble or injure myself. A scrape on my shin or hands is easily explained - and believed - rather than the elaborate lies I had to cook up in my old life. That was exhausting. Now it's all gone. My family knows I'll be doing the right thing, all the time, when I'm gone or when they're gone.
|Photo by Larry Mueller|
6 - RESPECT AND SELF-RESPECT: Did you know the most important things on this earth, you can't buy? (Love, respect, trust, dignity, health). I'm literally years into Recovery and still digging myself out of the 25-year hole I created while wallowing in the disease of Alcoholism. It's a day-by-day effort to restore respect and dignity and it only comes by proving yourself every 24 hours (hence our favourite saying, One Day At A Time). However the days stack up into weeks, months and years and I've met a lot of new people who have no idea about my past. They say I'm a nice, respectable, admirable person and some even call me Mr. Pedersen. I never thought getting to this point would ever be possible. Again, what a reward for sobriety.
On the flipside, as an addict you allow people to treat you like garbage because you think you are garbage. Because of your dirty little secret, you don't think you can have nice things. However once that secret is out in the open and dealt with, life becomes a whole new world. Put it this way: if you mistreat me now, you'd better be prepared for a fight.
7 - CLEAR MIND: They call it the "Alcoholic Fog" and it too is a thing. Booze really takes over your brain and clouds all of your thinking. That, I feel, is why 90 days in Recovery is a real milestone because by that point, you should be coming out of the fog, detangling your mind, feeling 100% better physically, and realizing a sober life is the ONLY option for an alcoholic. There were times on my radio show where my mind would just "freeze" because of my drinking and I literally could not think. That is not optimum on live radio. It was absolutely horrible.
One day last year I was sitting on the patio of a coffee house in Phoenix and looked up at the blue, cloudless sky. I thought to myself, "My mind is as clear as that Arizona sky." What a feeling!
8 - MY HEALTH: You would think this would be higher on the list, and perhaps it should be. When I got into Recovery everyone kept saying, "You're sick!" and "You're not well!" What on earth were they talking about? I was in the gym at least an hour everyday. But it was the shock of my life when my doctor said I'd be dead in a year the way I was going if I didn't change my life, pronto. Someone told me last week that I look 10 years younger. My skin is fresh and that's likely because I sleep like a baby. ("A clean conscience is the softest pillow" - John Wooden). I am preparing for a long and happy life rather than wishing I was dead, which I did just a few years ago.
9 - NOT FEELING LOST: This kind of spills into my Anxiety Disorder but it's another real thing. As an alcoholic you feel like you're on an island - except for your drinking buddies - but when you get into Recovery you meet dozens, maybe even hundreds, of people who are just like you. That's a nice feeling. And by keeping a daily journal you plant your feet on the ground rather than waving around in the wind like a balloon. I got started in this by my accountant who wanted me to track my mileage on a daily basis. Soon I was writing down who I talk with daily, where I went for lunch, family events, etc. Basically, it feels like you have your shit together for the first time in your life.
10 - NO HANGOVERS: So, yes, not having hangovers is a pretty wonderful way to go through life but it doesn't really compare to the nine other points above. Plus, when you drink as much as an alcoholic does, hangovers aren't really that bad. I see people who go on benders once or twice every year and sometimes wonder, "Why can't I do that?" However I quickly realize that I was doing it every weekend or sometimes multiple times per week. It was completely ruining my life and I'm grateful every minute of every day that I found the road out.
* If you have a serious problem with alcohol (if it's causing problems in your life), then it's imperative that you seek help. If it's deemed that you suffer from Alcoholism, then drinking can no longer be part of your life.
Hopefully this week's blog shows you what the upside of that is. It's ALL positive.
FB: Pedersen Recovery & Coaching Inc.