As with all my blogs, I speak from personal experience. Once most alcoholics realize the extent of the damage that they caused, we are consumed with guilt and never want to think about it again. I was surely one of them. I never realized how bad things were or how much pain I caused others until after I got sober. Once I did, my instant reaction was to block it out. As the years roll by in sobriety, it gets easier and easier to forget the little details of being a walking train wreck. If I allow myself to do so, I could easily forget the pain and desperation I was in, the agony I caused others and the seriousness of the shape I was in. My every day life as it is today is busy, I’m functioning in the real world and have a great many responsibilities. I’ve got lots to keep my mind in the here and now and not think about what was. Notice I said “If I allowed myself to.” Doing so would be a deadly maneuver and one that is not an option for me today. I do not live in my past, nor do I regret it. I know now that I was very sick back then. It’s important for not only me, but all alcoholics and addicts to remember in detail where we once were in order to not go back to it.
My past holds a great many life lessons that allow me to live in the here and now. Not all of my drunk antics were foolish and comical. There were a great many that were embarrassing, hurtful, disrespectful and down right wrong. Those are the ones I need to remember the most. I need to remember in detail and without guilt the pain I not only felt, but caused. It’s also imperative to my constant recovery to work with people new in recovery. Just like my past, it reminds me of where I was. I can’t count how many times over the years I’ve worked with individuals who remained me of myself. It could be something they said, a way they react or the way they act that will snap me back into my own early recovery experience. I remember all too well in the beginning how I felt I didn’t belong there because I didn’t have a problem. How angry I was in the beginning. I also remember the relief and calming feeling I felt when I finally realized that I really did have a problem I couldn’t control and that help was available.
Recovery is something constant. It’s not something that has a start and and ending where one receives a certificate of completion. Because there’s no cure, it’s something that must be utilized 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for the rest of our lives. The minute we stop utilizing the tools of our recovery, the likely-hood of a relapse is great. That may sound tedious, but the reality is, after you get used to doing, it becomes second nature and it stops feeling like something you have to work at. The longer I stay sober, the better and the busier my life gets. Therefore I sometimes have to force myself to remember but I make it a point to. It may sound like an exaggeration, but the truth of the matter is, If I don’t remember than I will surely relapse. If I relapse, I will surely die. I have no doubt in my mind. I’ve been blessed with a “do-over” at life and I’m gonna live it to the fullest.
AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist