Reflections on Turning 25 Years Sober

On Thursday, June 23rd, I celebrated 25 years of continuous sobriety off of drugs and alcohol. It’s a big deal and I do not take it for granted. I recognize that my being here is due to the love, support and guidance of my family, friends, 12-Step sponsors, therapists, yoga teachers, meditation teachers, an army of healers and the force that underlies all things in the Universe, which I choose to refer to as God.

I have adopted a one day at a time approach to life. This simply means that my mental focus is primarily on the day at hand. My practices — yoga, meditation, connecting with others, etc. — must be done each day. My relationships require daily maintenance including my relationship with food. I do my best not to get too far ahead of myself. When I do, I speak about it to one of the several people in my inner circle.

I try not to keep secrets for this is where shame lies, but over these 25 years I have had to learn that not everything is black and white; that there is a difference between honesty and compulsive disclosure. And that it is ok NOT to air your dirty laundry to everyone you come across.

I have had to move out of the habit of referring to myself as an addict or alcoholic. For me, this became a declaration of sickness and stuck-ness and it no longer served me. I mean no offense to my brothers and sisters in 12-Step programs. I needed to say those words for many years, and they were true for me until they weren’t.

I have had to learn that it is possible to recover from drug addiction and then be involved in other addictions such as codependency, sex, gambling, etc. that threaten your sanity and life. The gift of recovering from all this addictive behavior has been to make me available and effective in helping others who have struggled in similar ways.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I have learned in all these years has been to see that everything is happening “for me” and not “to me.” I am not a victim of circumstances beyond my control. My beliefs, thoughts, words and deeds will determine the quality and outcome of my life. I have had to learn to stop complaining and to own my entire life. From that empowered perspective true healing and love have become possible.

I have found my mission, which is to be in service to whomever I can with a particular focus on addiction, how to recover from it, and perhaps most importantly, how to thrive in one’s life without drugs, alcohol and other addictions. At this point, I cannot see any other path that makes sense for me. I’ve been given so much and healed from such heartache that the purpose of it all seems to be to pass it on.

All that said, I am a work in progress and still regularly make mistakes, both small and big. I have come to understand that this, too, is part of the human condition and that forgiveness of self and others makes a big difference in one’s quality of life.

I’ll leave you with this: Addiction is a pattern built into the mind-body system. To move beyond addiction one must re-pattern the mind and body. There is no cure. Rather it is a process accessible to any one of us as long as we are willing to surrender to what is, accept help along the way and practice an attitude of gratitude free from complaint and always looking to see how we can contribute to the solution rather than live in the problem.

I am so grateful to you, The Recovery 2.0 Community. We are 85,000 strong. We are all working on our recoveries and I sense we have a chance to do great things together on this amazing path.