It’s been months and months since my last Sober Bastard post. Truth be told, my personal life has become overwhelmingly busy. It’s been hard to sit down for a few hours undistracted to write out another post. Thanks to an email from Dawn A. stating “Where the #(%*! are you?” I finally got the kick in the ass I needed to sit down and write. Thanks Dawn!
I’m going to brag about my personal life a little bit. There is a reason- I’m not just showboating. It’s been over 15 months since I became sober. Since then my life has changed drastically.
The day I became sober I had lost my long time girlfriend, my job, many of my friendships and my apartment. I was the classical “lose all of the important shit in your life” alcoholic. So much so that I found very little, if any, reason to continue to keep living. It would have taken a lot of effort to get much lower.
So that day I decided to get sober and in a short 15 months my life has become far more successful than I could have imagined. At the time of writing this post I have gone from being unable to maintain a week of sobriety to celebrating over 15 months. I have gone from unemployed…. to employed….. to quadrupling my income. I have gone from apartment-less to living in a luxury apartment building in a beautiful new town. I have gone from losing my girlfriend to now having a very loving and fulfilling relationship with that same woman. I have gone from damaged friendships to having the most fulfilling relationships of my life. I have a semi-successful blog, a family dog, a steady supply of cigars and I get to work in filmmaking part time- a lifelong dream of mine. I have gone from dreaming of a better life to having a better life. It may seem cocky and arrogant to say but I am a pretty good example of someone who has turned their life around. Much of which I credit to the opportunities provided by my sobriety. Also a good deal of credit goes to people that supported me, hard work, determination and a lot of luck. If anything, I am probably the last person to credit my good luck to.
So why am I showboating more than your average NFL player? Because this is generally all people see of my life now- the good stuff; the changes. Especially in a time of social media where the majority of what is posted is the positive stuff of our lives.
“Look at this great vacation I’m on!”
“Look at our new house!”
“Look at my new car!”
“Look at my amazing kid who shits themselves!”
But you never see the real behind the scenes footage. Maybe it is just my personality but I used to find people’s success almost discouraging and made me feel down about myself. Why was I not there at this point in my life? Why did it seem so much easier for them than it was for me? At this point you might even be thinking the same about my short termed success. I can tell you things are not always what they seem.
I have gone from being unable to maintain a week of sobriety to celebrating over 15 months.
From the outside I am a person who successfully kicked an addiction. Which is true- it is at it seems. However, you didn’t see the years and years where I desperately tried to quit. You never saw the nights I cried to family members about how I couldn’t change who I was. You never saw the lost jobs, the depression, the suicidal thoughts, the moments I sat in a liquor store parking lot begging myself to resist drinking tonight. You also never saw the first few months of sobriety I couldn’t eat at a restaurant that served alcohol. You never saw the relationships I had to cut out of my life because I saw those friends as only drinking buddies. And you never saw the moments I had to call friends when I desperately thought I was going to take a drink. But they were all there- they just weren’t as public.
Click on photo for higher resolution. Credit to Anna Vital
I have gone from unemployed…. to employed….. to quadrupling my income.
Sounds nice- doesn’t it? To be completely honest it is nice. Money isn’t happiness but it sure helps prevent unhappy moments. It also helps provide for happier moments. It even provides me the ability to repay the people who supported me- both monetarily and in many other valuable ways.
My professional career has changed drastically over the past year. I went from being unemployed to being employed by the same company I was let go from….to moving to a new town for my work….to getting my professional license…..to quadrupling my income. I am very fortunate and very lucky.
In fact, it was an encounter with an employee at my new apartment building that gave me the idea for this post. The person I was speaking to mentioned something about my professional “success”. The employee, a young 20 year old professional, was commenting about his professional aspirations and comparing his own career to where I am now. All I could think of was “Man, if this guy saw me a year ago he wouldn’t believe how big of a piece of shit I was”. Instead of comparing professional success he would probably be wondering when this tubby alcoholic was going to get his shit together. But he doesn’t see that. He justs sees how things are going for me now. In fact, few people saw the struggles I went through over the past year. For as many successful moments I have now I had triple as many discouraging moments.
No one saw the cringe-worthy conversation my employer and I had where we spoke of the situation leading to my unemployment. It’s really hard to look someone in the eye and admit that the state of your career is the direct result of your actions. And no one heard the conversation where my employer stated “The first time I see a drink in your hand consider yourself unemployed.”
Very few people saw the moments I struggled to improve my career. While today I have my professional license which affords me the ability to make a much greater income- they never saw the hard work or let downs that came before the successful moments. Like the moments I had to spend my nights in studying for my state licensing board- or the time I failed my first state licensing examination. They never saw the sadness, the disappointment or the setbacks that incurred from that. They never saw the moment where I sat in my car crying because of that failure. It was incredibly discouraging. Three short months later I wept like a brace faced fifteen year old girl when I found out the life changing news of passing my state licensing exam. Moral of this story is I cry too much.
I have gone from losing my girlfriend to now having a very loving and fulfilling relationship with that same woman. I have gone from damaged friendships to having the most fulfilling relationships of my life.
This is one of the most important aspects in my life that has improved. While monetary and professional success is very, very nice there are some things you cannot buy. One of them is fulfilling relationships. My relationship and friendships are closer than they have ever been.
But you never saw the struggles those friendships went through over the last 15 months. At the time of my last day drinking my girlfriend had broken up with me and there were very few friends I could reach out to. I was able to reach out to family but I could tell they too were getting tired of my shit.
Most people never saw the struggle it took for my girlfriend and I to get where we are- or even see the struggle we still go through. Things became very damaged between us. Years of unhealthy behavior left many scars, many bad memories and many hurdles for us to overcome. No one sees the fear she had in her eyes as we drove past a liquor store. No one ever sees the many brutally honest conversations her and I have had over the year. No one sees the tears shed over lingering memories. No one sees the hurdles we still have to overcome. But these are the bitter moments we have to go through to get to the sweet moments.
Outside of the direct individuals involved no one ever saw the moments I had to stand in front of friends and admit I had been a pretty selfish friend. And you couldn’t have seen the moments it went very well- and the moments it went quite poorly. Luckily for me, once I was able to start showing progress the vast majority of these friends were very willing to forgive and even forget. Not all, but the vast majority.
Don’t compare your behind the scenes footage with other people’s highlight reel.
Look at any successful actor in history. Literally none of them got to the famed success on their first day of acting. They spent many nights working on sets for no pay, living in their cars and having their only meal of the day come from some half assed catering service. They’ve been passed over for parts a thousand times and been replaced on set by lesser actors. They’ve gone downtown and sold plasma, their bodies or even worse- Kirk Cameron DVD’s. Their life was far less glamorous then but by the time you came in contact with them on the silver screen you were only seeing the sides of their life their publicist wanted you to see.
Just as in all of these accomplishments I have had over the past 15 some months I have had just as many setbacks. But that is kind of the thing about life- you can put up with the setbacks if the rewards are worth it. Don‘t let these minor setbacks discourage you from your goal. No matter how big they may seem now they are minor. Time heals all wounds and time brings out the true value of everything.
Whether it is your sobriety, rebuilding your life or in your general interactions in life- don’t compare everything you see in your own life to the few select moments you see in others. The reason horses wear blinders is so they can focus on only what they are doing. The real race is within the horse- not the one on the track.