For those that didn’t recover
It would have been my father’s 82nd birthday today and it is always a time when I find myself thinking about him and all of the others who don’t recover from addiction. With several years of sobriety behind me I sometimes take it for granted; but every time I remember my Dad’s struggle with alcohol it really hits home just how lucky I am. He drank in a way that was destructive and unhealthy for as long as I can remember and by the time he died at 67, his addiction had worn down and broken him. The most upsetting part for me is knowing how unhappy he was and that he never found the peace of mind which recovery brings.
I know from my own drinking how feeling trapped in your addiction makes it almost impossible to really, fully enjoy anything in life; or to ever feel truly relaxed and at peace. There’s always the nagging knowledge at the back of your mind somewhere that there’s something very wrong and it’s only a matter of time before you’ll have to deal with the shame, mess and despair brought about by the next drinking induced disaster. I lived with that nagging inside my head for years before I sought help; and several more years before I eventually got sober. Even at times when something good happened or when I was trying my best to happy, it was always there; lingering at the back of my brain; at night when I was trying to sleep and again in the morning when I woke up…that feeling that you’re messed up but too ashamed to admit it. I didn’t think it would ever go away. I thought it was part of me.
I can’t remember how far into sobriety I was before I realised those nagging thoughts were gone, but finding peace of mind has been the most life changing aspect of recovery for me. I found that I could live, go about my daily business and go to sleep at night without a constant sense of impending disaster. With peace of mind came things I never thought possible; like the happiness that comes from contentment and a quiet life, free from drama. Don’t get me wrong, life now is busy and challenging and I still make mistakes, but I no longer feel that it’s predestined to end in disaster. Recovery has also given me reason to believe that I have the ability to be happy and to somehow find a way through whatever ups and downs life brings.
When I think about my Dad and the fact that he never got to experience this peace and contentment, it just crushes me. He was a good person who deserved to feel happiness and self-worth; but it’s just about impossible to have these when you’re trapped in addiction. He had so much potential, so much to offer, and I think he tried; almost till the end; to do the right thing and contribute something positive to the world. But alcohol will always prevent you from achieving your potential and the waste is enormous – wasted time, opportunities, money, energy….So when I think of my Dad and my heart breaks because he never escaped from his addiction, I also feel motivated. To appreciate my recovery and enjoy to the fullest the peace of mind that it brings. To make the most of the opportunities that open up to me and keep pushing myself to do and experience more.
In this way, I’m living my recovery for the both of us. It’s my responsibility to live my best and fullest sober life, not just for me but also for my Dad and for all those others who we’ve lost to addiction.