Sobriety is a great accomplishment. A life free from a chemical dependency is something I thought I could never experience. Learning how to live sober was a progress in motion. When things start to go right and doors start to open, that is an inspiration to continue to live a drug free life. But just how well tested is your sobriety? What happens when things don’t go right in your life? Staying sober through tragedy is one place where I found these answers.
Anyone who has read any of my stories knows that I was addicted to narcotic pain medication for fourteen years which started in 1990. My sobriety date is May 8th, 2004. Defeating my addiction was the the hardest thing I had ever done in my life, or so I thought until October 7th, 2013.
On that day, I received the terrible news that my oldest brother was dead. He had been hit by a car while crossing the street on his way to a local convenience store around 11pm. It did not take long before I realized that my accomplishment of sobriety was no longer going to be that hardest thing I have ever done. For now I knew that I was going to be the one to have to go and tell our 79 year old mother that her first born was dead. After I told her (and you can imagine how that kind of thing goes), my mother would ask me how he died. Telling her that he was run over by a car, 30 seconds after telling her that he was dead, now made my sobriety the third hardest thing I have ever done. My sobriety had met its toughest challenge since coming clean back in 2004 and I was not even phased. I was sober strong. The thought of picking up and using was not even an option. I guess that was the Silver Lining in my brother’s death.
The following year and again in October, I got a call around 3 am that the girl that I was dating at that time was in the ICU at a local hospital after a suicide attempt. I got in my car and drove to the hospital having no idea what I would be coming across. When you walk down a hospital hall at just about 4 am and turn the corner into a room and see someone you are dating on life support with multiple tubes going in and out of her, it’s not the most pleasant feeling. How could this happen to her under my watch? I had no idea but I had much guilt that somehow I could of prevented this from happening. Preventing it or not, she thankfully recovered…but we did not. The relationship failed the following year. Again my sobriety (and this time unbeknownst to me) was being tested. And once again it held up strong. No thoughts of using ever came into sight.
There are all kinds of addictions out there, and paralleling them are the many forms of sobriety. The stories we hear of how someone turned to drugs, I think most of us have said to ourselves…been there, done that. But the stories of how our sobrieties are tested without fail go far beyond been there, done that. Accomplishing a sober life is truly remarkable but the sobriety that does not fail under some of its most tested moments is an even greater triumph. Our accomplishment of sobriety is not a destination. It is not a one time goal. It is a work in progress for the rest of our life. It is that road at which we will be tested, and many times without warning. By constantly working our sobriety, every day, we can prepare ourselves for life’s harshest times and by doing so prove that we need not pick up and use because we are having a bad day. Sobriety does not come with a 30 foot brick wall to defend it. That is up to you to construct. And regardless of what kind of wall you put up, always know that you never have to pick up and use should something break on through. You are stronger than that.