Every morning that I wake up healthy, with a loving wife, two precious kids, a job that I believe is important — to me and others — and my sobriety, I thank a power greater than myself.
These gifts are the givens, and things I appreciate with a deeper sense of gratitude then simple words can express.
It is this clarity, this inexplicable vision into what makes me ill that allows me to take my times of extreme emotion, whether they be unbridled joy or unmitigated misery, with a grain of salt. That is hard to do in the midst of the giddiness or the hang-dog blues, but the hangover from both can be severe and sobering.
In this third year, in large and small ways in 2011, I understood that better than at any other period of this journey.
On one end, 2011 was the best year of my life. There was the brains and beauty of my little girl blossoming each and every day, the miracle of having a son born in February, a promotion and one of the most intellectually stimulating and satisfying periods of employment of my nearly two decades here.
On the other end, though, 2011 was heavy beyond belief, rife with big life changes and the waking up to the fact that I was immersed in dangerous patterns that will continue to threaten my peace of mind if I don’t act.
I think my first real glimpse at that came in the early part of the year, when a painful injury curtailed my obsessive exercise regimen, and made me do things differently at the gym. That put me in a funk.
But I saw myself become completely unhinged near the end of the year when I let my gym membership go for two months. No longer working out to the point of pain, sometimes twice a day, I went the other direction in November and much of December, compulsively eating and gaining 15 pounds very quickly.
In retrospect, I can see these clear patterns of substituting an addiction to alcohol for compulsive exercise, spending, eating, putting my heart and soul into work, and the list goes on. Part of the crash landing at the end of the year came simply from huge changes in my life, in my living arrangements, in my routines that I had grown accustomed to and found a safe comfort in.
Even though I was no longer altering my reality through alcohol, I recognized in 2011 that I wasn’t entirely truthful with myself, I was living in a different sort of reality in which I was — and am — hanging on to something, some pain, I don’t want to let go.
My existence has been marked by an unnecessary need to fight and be defiant, even against all better judgment and the knowledge that to accept, to do whatever is necessary to relieve myself of the mental and emotional burdens, of the built-up defenses and the trap doors of my mind, is the only solution to true freedom.
It’s that awareness that there are simple solutions that make the reality of what I do and what I am doing all the more painful.
To know and to do something about it is the greatest gift a person can give themselves. To know and do nothing, though, is a worse crime than to live in oblivion.
I make no resolutions for 2012, just simple promises to give myself the gift of ever-increasing health — mental, emotional, physical — and by extension pay that gift forward to my children, wife, co-workers and friends.
Are these extravagant promises? I think not.