There are a couple of common themes which have run throughout the last 11 years of my sobriety; however, it took me a while to understand them. The first is: “Don’t wait for sobriety to do something for you, do something yourself with your sobriety.” That means be present, play an active role in and with your sobriety. Let you sober mind work for you.
This viewpoint fits in with any plan or system you follow. It works along with alternative plans, non-traditional systems, 12-step systems, faith-based systems, any type of regimen you follow. If you’re going to make it a point to live as a non-drinker or non-user, wouldn’t you want to make the best out of living clean and sober?
Some of my recent articles and podcasts have sounded a bit dark. While preparing and writing this article I spent some time reflecting over my 11 years of sobriety. All in all, the past 11 years haven’t been all that dark. Yes it was (and still is), lonely at times. But that’s my problem and I need to take action to fix that. I need to make myself valuable and desired. If I don’t like myself or care about myself, why would anyone else like me or care about me? I have to address most of my problems and issues myself.
That’s the other common theme: “You have to do this yourself. You can seek outside help and you can use a means of support, but this is something you must do within your own skin. No one else can do it for you. You must take full ownership and responsibility for this.” That means no blaming others or blaming conditions which may or may not exist. If you want to be sober—you have to do it yourself. If you want to be a better person—you have to do it yourself. If you want to advance your education or expand your skills and knowledge—you have to do it yourself. You can turn to others for help on all of these things, but you still have to be the one to do it.
Sobriety completely upset my life, but it upset it in a good way. So much has changed in my life over the past 11 years, and most of it for the better. But I had to take action. I didn’t rely on anyone else to tell me what I should do. I had to do this myself. I had to actively search for what interested me as an alternative to getting loaded. I had to put myself out into the world and seek new friends and re-evaluate current friendships.
My first 3 years of sobriety weren’t a complete waste, but I spent too much time waiting for something magical to happen. The magic didn’t start happening until I began doing something with my sobriety. But a lot of the magic wasn’t obvious. Some of the magic wasn’t even magic. Such as I became completely debt free within 3 years of sobering up. That wasn’t magic; it was calculated, planned and done by me. It wasn’t all that much fun while I was paying off debt, but it was considerably easier due to the fact that I wasn’t spending any of my money on booze and drugs. I also wasn’t loaded, so I made fewer impulsive purchases and made fewer bad financial decisions. Sobriety didn’t magically pay off my bills—I paid off my bills through the use of my sober mind.
I also began rebuilding a healthy body. Sobriety didn’t magically do it for me—I did it, I had to get my ass into the gym and work out. I spent the time I used to spend drinking at the gym. My monthly gym membership costs about half of what I would normally spend on booze over a typical weekend. Plus, I was getting to know people who live a healthy lifestyle. Some drank, some didn’t, but they were people who wanted to be healthy and the socializing was far more uplifting than always talking about alcohol or addiction. I still enjoy the social atmosphere at my gym and I can honestly say that I’m in the best physical condition of my life. (Mental stability and maturity is an altogether separate issue.)
At 11 years into this there are still plenty of struggles, still plenty of disappointments, and yes, there are also plenty of pleasant, if not simply amusing, surprises. I’m not all giddy and beaming with joy. But I’ve found an acceptable level of calm happiness. I found my calm happiness through actively making my sobriety work for me. I certainly want more out of life and I must utilize my sober mind to discover what it is and how I’ll get it. I can’t and won’t rely on someone else to tell me what I should want. After I have an idea of what I want, I typically seek out input from others who I view as competent and successful.
That’s what I attempt to bring across in my books. I don’t tell you what you should do; I encourage YOU to make some discoveries and decisions for yourself. I have no idea what you want out of living sober. It’s unreasonable to allow anyone else to tell you what you should want and do with your sobriety.
I want to mention that I receive emails from people who call me out about my attending AA. “You say right in your book that you attended AA for about the first 6 months, so it did help you.” Yes, I agree that it did help me, but not in the way the organization or followers of AA would like to hear. It helped me discover that I didn’t like it and it helped inspire me to create an alternative. My alternative isn’t the final answer. My alternative is a formula to follow that involves YOU making your own plan. You customize a plan that fits your life and your beliefs. You determine if you’re motivated by gains or by loss avoidance. You devise your own reward system. Part of your personal plan may include attending AA meetings or it may include religious function attendance or religious activities. The bottom line is that you decide and you let your mind evolve along with your sobriety.
It’s so very strange. When I first stopped drinking I couldn’t imagine myself sober for this long. I had no idea of what to visualize, so I didn’t even try. That was helpful at the time. But as my sobriety evolved over the years, I began visualizing farther out in advance. I’m a bit disappointed with my own results, but not with the results of sobriety. The disappointments are due to my own limitations (most of which are self-imposed), and my own laziness. I feel that I haven’t fully utilized the gift I have given myself. It’s a silly struggle: I know that sobriety itself won’t do anything specifically for me, but I keep waiting. I know that I have to make the best out of my sobriety. It’s my responsibility, no one else’s. But it’s still better than living drunk, broke and sickly. The realities and random disappointments are still better than living in a deluded haze where things never come to fruition and plans are only drunken ramblings from a drunken idiot.
If I had the opportunity to go back there are a few things I would do differently. I wouldn’t have waited so long to begin living out my re-invention. But the fact is that I can’t go back in time, none of us can, so I must live out my re-invention NOW. Every moment of every day. The rest of my sober journey of discovery begins right now.
I’m serious when I say, “If I can make the best out of living sober, I know that YOU can make something even greater.” If you’re not sure, just try it. Try living completely sober for 30 days. See what begins to develop and see how it works out. What’s the worst that can happen? If you don’t like it you can always go back to being a juicer.
These are my own opinions and observations. Please, think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. I invite you to pick up one of my books: You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. I pay for all of this with my own personal funds. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what this all costs me. I am very appreciative that a few people have signed up to make a $5 a month donation. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.