How To Get Six Years of Sobriety


 

On May 4th, I celebrated six continuous years of sobriety.

Cue the happy dance.

“How did you do it? How did you get six years, Pauly?” someone asked me the other day.

I paused and gave him a short, but meaningful answer. It fell in line with where I am in my recovery and how I roll with things. It had wings, baby.

But as I thought about it more, I thought to myself, “How the hell did you do it, you wild turkey?” (Note: not affiliated with Wild Turkey bourbon). As I ruminated about it a bit more, I had to delve into my story a bit. I am not one to share my story much – I figure we all know how to drink. If you’re reading this, most likely you fell into the same jackpot pit I did, so it seems a waste of typing time and your screen space to get into specifics. But I figured what the hell. Sometimes it’s time to tell a story.

Here is how I got six years of sobriety:

Have a great early childhood. Change schools. Get picked on and beat up. Change school again. Get picked on and beat up. Feel defeat between your toes and in your soul. Equate being yourself to pain. Retract from life and your authentic self. Shy away from your gifts. Cry a lot. Hide in your room. Pick up a drink. Play music and write. Hide more. Pick up another drink. Listen to death metal. Crash your car at 19 because you were drunk. Keep drinking. Go to college. Meet a girl. Keep drinking. Have girl break up with you. Drink. Find empty solace with other girls who you like only because they like you first. Seek external validation. Feel miserable.

Get jobs. Keep drinking. Get back with girl. Get married. Buy a house. Drink more. Start feeling more and more empty. Work long hours. Drink after work. Stay out all night to drink. Worry your wife sick. Be an asshole to her. Be an asshole to everyone. Blame everyone for your problems. Get angry. Drink more. Be inappropriate with others. Act like a big shot even though inside you’re a small man. Hate yourself. Loath your entire being. Punch yourself in the face when no one’s looking. Call yourself every name in the book. Spit at your reflection. Drink more. Move up professionally while swirling down the sink of self-hatred and piss poor judgement from drinking. Fight with your wife. A lot. Zone out. Check out emotionally. Start blacking out.

Increase selfishness. Have a child. Swear you will never drink again. Then swear you won’t drink in front of him. Then swear you won’t drink a lot in front of him. Start drinking daily. Drink beers to settle shaking hands. Drink bottles of vodka straight. Hide everything. Have people remove themselves from your presence. Have people ask about you. Gobble breath mints. Feel the swirl of failure around you. Sense that the bottom if falling out but you can’t stop this train. Drink more. Soil your pants. Lie to everyone. Pass out. Drive. Get angry. A lot. Have withdrawals so bad you need to call an ambulance because you think you are going to have a heart attack. Have panic attacks daily. See therapist upon therapist to figure out everything except the drinking.

Consider suicide as a means of escaping for good. Get fired from jobs. Get hospitalized. Get arrested for a DUI with your 3 1/2 year old son in the back. Find out your levels were lethal. Have the police tell you that you should have been dead. Watch from the back of a squad car, while handcuffed, as an officer plays Thomas the train with your boy until his mother arrives. Sit in the drunk tank. Get kicked out of the house. Live in your parents basement. Go to meetings but drink again. Visit your son to make pizza but get drunk first. Watch his disappointed face. Get hammered on last time.

MAKE A DECISION THAT YOU’VE HAD ENOUGH.

Go to detox. Get the DT’s and pray for death. Get into treatment. Stay 21 days and watch as other guys come and go. Fear for your life. Feel that you can’t do this. Feel the cravings rake over your soul and skin. Hate everyone. Hate yourself. Go to meetings – sometimes five a day because you need them. Find a sponsor. Cry a lot. Miss your family. Get discharged. Find an apartment because your wife has separated from you. Live off savings. Work on the 12 steps. Walk around for hours on end because you don’t trust yourself alone. Contemplate suicide because it’s too hard. Be in court for 2 1/2 years and get convicted on your DUI. Lose your license for three years. Owe tens of thousands. Go to probation for 18 months.

Go to bed one day realizing you haven’t thought about a drink all day. Pray all the time. Watch others relapse around you. Stay grounded. Connect with healthy men. Learn to love. Learn to like yourself. Learn that all your troubles are of your own making. Make amends. Heal wounds. Have your wife ask you back. Hug your boy as much as you can. Stay grateful. Learn to live life again without alcohol. Get a job, a job where you will move up and gain much respect in. Write a lot. Start a blog. Start a podcast. Adopt a beautiful boy, a boy who’s biological mother struggles with alcohol and can’t keep him. Meet others like yourself online and in person. Sponsor other men. Smile a lot. Exercise. Help others. Let others help you. Be a kind citizen of the world.

Then, one day, order yourself a six-year coin. Do not open it until the day comes around. Then open it and hold it tight.

And on that day, you will weep on your way to work, early in the morning, when only the streetcars and crows are around to screech around you. You will weep because you know that you are blessed and that shit could have gone sideways so easily and that you were one car ride away from killing someone. Perhaps your own flesh and blood. You weep because you know that so many out there haven’t gotten to where you are. Some die out there praying for a tiny glimpse of what you have right now.

YOU ARE BLESSED. YOU ARE WHERE YOU NEED TO BE. YOU ARE LOVE. YOU ARE LOVE.

Thank you to all of you who are part of my recovery.

 

For further thoughts into this – please check out the latest podcast.

103 responses to “How To Get Six Years of Sobriety

  1. The anxiety I felt while reading your post was off the charts until I reached (with a most grateful sigh) “MAKE A DECISION THAT YOU’VE HAD ENOUGH.” Sometimes it time to tell a story….thank you for sharing yours. You never fail to encourage and strengthen my commitment to sobriety.

    • Ha ha – didn’t mean to keep the suspense there! Honestly, I could have kept going with the crappy things about how I felt and things I did, but didn’t want to keep at it. It’s amazing how much came to me, even though I know my own story!

      Thank you for the kind words. We are here to support one another. So thank YOU for what you do!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing that.
    It made me cry tears of knowing and gratitude.
    We are the lucky ones. We are love.

    Stillness and peace. One day at a time.

    Anne

    • Stillness and peace indeed, Anne. Thank you for being a survivor. I love what you share on everyone’s blogs. You are a wonderful spirit and I have learned so very much from you. Thanks again.

  3. Paul, congrats , six years of continuous sobriety ! Thank you so much for sharing your story.
    Raw & honest, I felt your pain. We do recovery.Happy to be on this journey of recovery with you.

    • Aw thank you Marcella – I am always so happy to see you, especially here. I am blessed to be on the path with you as well.

  4. Amen my friend amen…. We each have our own story, but they still sound the same…Despair, lonliness, self loathing……. And so much more.
    By the grace of God we recovered. Thank you Paul for always sharing your story of hope, and always with a splash of humor! I’m humbled to know you thru our blogs. 6years…Wow!

    • Katie! Thank you so much for this and for pointing out that yes – we are so similar in the end. And yes, God is great. God gave me grace to recover and I will always be thankful! I am so glad that we have crossed paths! Hope you are well 🙂

  5. It’s an honour and a privilege to have been able to read your story. Your resilience is second to none.
    Your story, I believe, could help so many others out there starting their ‘drinking career’ or who’re mid way along it.
    You inspire me no end, thank you so much.
    I want to go order a six year coin too.
    xoxo

    • Thank you so much – I am touched that you’re touched! lol. But seriously, thank you. And you know, a big part of my recovery has been listening to and reading stories – and the blogs have really helped me see healing and new lives in a new light. Thank YOU for your inspiration to me and others and I am glad that we can help one another.
      Blessings 🙂

      Let me know when you get your coin – I will be the first to congratulate you!

  6. Well Done Paul ~ love ya man! All our tears then and all our love now. You #xa young buckaroos are amazing. Lovely getting 2b a small part of your recovery/life today and vice versa. The adventure continues, our stories aren’t over! so glad you stayed alive and sober. 6yrs and 3 days! #WE are shattering our own sober record each new #today and proving that we really do recover.

    • Paul you wascally one…lol. Thank you and love you too. I love the idea of shattering our own record every day! I never saw it like that. Thank you Paul for everything you do for me and others. You don’t realize how much of an influence you have on me and others. And for that, countless blessings and hugs to you.

  7. Made me cry too! Well done on 6 years Paul that is really incredible. We are the lucky ones and should never take it for granted. You are an amazing human being. Much love. xxx

  8. Another one reporting tears… so proud to know and read you here. Life as a succession of short sentences…. so telling.

    Thankful that you engineered your points switch to end up in this section of track. Sad for those who don’t, those who can’t. Grateful and determined to stay on this path and looking forward to hearing where you go next! Looking forward to listening to podcast later. Prim xx

    • Oh Prim – I am so glad you’re here! Thank you for your support and encouragement. I love your words here and on your space. You inspire a lot of folks! You know, writing it was cathartic, even though I know the story inside out. Strange, eh? Anyway, thank you again and glad to know you 🙂

    • Ha ha – you’re the first to mention that one – you win the internet today! But thank you MB…always so happy to see you here 🙂

  9. Riveting post with gut wrenching truths. Thanks for opening up and sharing the worst and best part of your life. Keep on keeping on!

    • Thank you so much, Cindy! I appreciate the read and the kind comments. It’s all about the honesty. And things are good today for sure 🙂

  10. Beautiful, beautiful. Congratulations on 6 years my friend. Thank you for your words and your story and for you. CHEERS!!!!!!!!

    • We will never tire of the Cheeersss will we? Love that about us. I am so excited about your new path! I remember how it was for you years ago, and to see you just explode in a way that you probably never thought you would…how priceless is that? Thanks again.

  11. Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your story!! It is important to look back but not dwell there. Yes many of us know how to get drunk yet many are not courageous to get and stay sober…

    • You are so right, Jeff. As they say, the past is a place of reference, not of residence. That is why I don’t talk about my story much, unless it’s with a newcomer or from the podium. I would rather focus on the positives and how great sobriety can be! And it’s great with you on the same path, Jeff. Thanks.

  12. Thank you for sharing this! So powerful. Congratulations on six years. I’m so proud to know you! ❤️

    • Aww thank you Susanne! I am so proud to know you too – I feel like I have known you for a long time. Is that strange?? Thank you for all that you do. I love that we’re on the path together. Blessings 🙂

  13. Hey, Paul, CONGRATS!! Since Google decided to give me your address (I still have no idea why), were I am organized person, I’d have sent you a card! However, organized, I ain’t.
    As always, I’m grateful for your willingness to be transparent. Your story has and will doubtless continue to spread hope.
    Love ya, man. 😎

    • Thank you so much, Abbie! (sorry for the delay in getting back to you – been mad busy!) Ha ha – thanks about the card thing. It’s amazing who pops up on my Google Calendar!
      blessings to you Abbie – so glad we crossed paths!
      Love back at ya 😉

  14. Paul, at the risk of redundancy: this is awesome. I wept when I read it last night and it’s brought me to tears each time I’ve read it since then. Go easy on yourself, my friend: you are one of the most special people I have ever met. I know I am not alone in feeling that way.

    • Dude! Thank you again. I had some tears when I wrote it. Funny – I decided to write it this way because I was short on time! But the Universe has a funny way of telling you how to do things. You are special as well, brother. Your heart is as big as your laugh.
      hugs to ya
      Paul

  15. Congratulations… one day at a time!
    Very difficult story to write and read but how inspirational. We have had enough when we have had enough!
    We do not have to wait for any further YETS.
    Keep up the wonderful journey!!!🙏🙏🙏

    • Thank you so much Judy for your kind words and for the read!
      I was running out of “yets”. Glad I was given Grace to start the journey to healing.
      Thank you for being here. Blessings!

  16. Wow I am just beginning my journey and it seems so far away (6years sober) because I keep fighting myself. That passage really touched home because I have made it the decision that this is enough

    • Hi Mario! Thanks for this (my apologies on the late reply!) I had to learn to get out of my own way…and that happens to this day. Not so much the drinking per se, but I have to keep my thinking in line, or else it goes into self-pity and all that tiring and self-defeating stuff. I wish you well on your journey – and if you ever want to “talk” – please email me: carrythemessage164@gmail.com
      Paul

  17. Oh my god, what a story so much of it resonates with me. You have come so far and are a true inspiration, your honesty will help so many who read this.
    It can be awful but you are testament to what can be achieved when you have the courage to get the help you need. Huge congratulations on your six year anniversary – you should be super proud!
    Thanks for sharing x

    • I am always so happy to see you here, Carrie. I feel blessed to be around so much serenity and healing…and that includes you. It’s been a joy watching everyone’s journeys. Thanks for this!

    • Thank you so much! I saw a blog post of yours pop up on my reader and I got so excited! I have been mad busy, but I can’t wait to read. I really love your blog. Thank you for this…I really appreciate it!

    • Thanks again Tate for the kind words. I hope this reaches someone who needs it. Thank you for all that you do in recovery. We do this together!
      Blessings, Paul.

  18. Oh, Paul…you are one of my favorite people. You have been to hell and back. Thank you for sharing. And for the love of god, would you please read everyone’s comments and actually BELIEVE what they are saying – that you are awesome!!!

    • Oh Jane…you make me laugh always! Thank you – I am so glad you are “back” – you were missed! And you know me too well – I have a hard time taking it all in, but I am not that stubborn and daft to know that there is a lot of love out there. Thank you so much 🙂

  19. Hi Paul!
    Thank you SO much for sharing your story!
    It is a very powerful story, and so uplifting to me!
    Although I only have my hubs, no kids, it reminds me of what I would lose if I ever start drinking again.
    Happy Happy 6 Years!!
    xoxo
    Wendy

    • Thank you so much, Wendy! I think that while our external conditions may be different (economic, family, etc.), I think the stuff deep down is so very much the same. That is why we “get” one another so easily. We all have so much to lose. Glad you are here – I know how much you inspire others and you are always so gracious to everyone on their blogs. Thank you.

  20. Congratulations Paul. You have helped and inspired me so much. I may have had a set back, but I am working it the only way any of us can. One day at a time.
    Happy 6 Years!

    • I am going to be commenting on your last post. I love the honesty. And we all work at this. I tried to quit countless times before going to 12 step. Even then, I would show up drunk to some meetings. Don’t be hard on yourself! Sending much love to you, my friend 🙂 Thank you for being here.

  21. I’m so glad you shared this story, the story of Paul and his six year coin. I’m so glad to know you and that you’re here to tell us what it was like and what it can be like. Much love to you and yours, and thanks for being here.

    • Thank you so much, K. I am so glad you’re here and still inspiring so many of us. I am honoured to be on this path with you. Love back to you all as well.

    • I still get emails alerting me to your posts! I lurk most of the time – my apologies for not commenting much, but always take time to read! You were definitely in the Old Skool club back in the day! And it makes me happy to see you still at it. Thanks for being here!

      • So cool, Paul…! I can’t believe it’s been 5 years, but it still feels fresh to me. And, you and all the “Old Skool” are still so much a part of my life, and still inspiring me…!

  22. I always forget that our anniversary dates are so close! Mine is May 12th. Already getting emotional. Anyway, I related (as always) so much to your words. “Feel defeat between your toes and in your soul. Equate being yourself to pain.” Those words are reverberating around my heart right now. So much pain, but miraculously, we are on the other end of this now. Congratulations on your six years! Love you, buddy.

    • Oh yes! I have to remember the 12th! I am so excited for you! And you have been through so much. We are on the mend always and I know you are comitted to this. I miss our previous correspondence, but I know you are busy having a wonderful sober life!
      Love ya back 🙂

  23. Rough stuff, rough story. This makes mine sound like a bedtime story.
    It’s like watching Lost Weekend, You get this creepy feeling all over, even though you haven’t been there. The periphery can cause all sorts of anxiety. The Days of Wine and Roses does the same to me. I can’t watch these flics alone. This blog is well written, and gets the job done.
    It has the ability to scare, and that is worth a great deal to the deer.

    • Thank you Roderick. You know, funny enough, I can’t watch those movies either. I fidget too much, I get embarrassed too much, I just feel so damn uncomfortable watching. So I get it. For some reason when I read about stuff, I can handle it. But to watch it unfold on the screen? No thank you. I loved Days of Wine and Roses, but I was forced to watch it at rehab…ha ha. But it has a few scenes which still chew me up watching. Thank you for being here and I hope you are well. I don’t know you very much, but you sometimes comes to mind. Blessings, Paul.

    • Thank You Graham for the kind words. Thank YOU for being such a support and encouraging person. You have a big heart and good soul and I will always be grateful for that.

    • Ha ha thanks Carrie Ann. It’s amazing how it came out, even though I know the story! I am glad it resonated. I love when I read or hear someone’s story and I just *get* it right away. That tingle of recognition. Thanks for being here 🙂

      • I find the story is richer through every re-telling. You’ve mined through to some gold here.

  24. Oh well done Paul, it really is unbelievable isn’t it🙂Just reading through amd identifying so much. I’m so happy for you and your family.

  25. Paul!!!
    I’m way late to the game on this but what an amazing story.It’s nice to read it all in one lump and the construction is really great. I like that even though our story doesn’t change, we change and find new ways to express it. So bravo. The fact you survived and got better is a miracle. We were sobriety blogging before all the cool kids came to the party and I have to say you’re progress is amazing.
    Anyway, always love when you blog and love having you in my digital recovery circle.
    You rock,
    S.

    • Thanks SPM (sorry I am late in responding!). I think you are right about expressing it differently – I remember telling my story at speaker meetings and it sounded way different than it is now. Time and distance and some perspective shapes it. I am in sure 5-10 years from now it will change again. That’s progress in another way, eh?
      Thanks for this – big smile on my face reading this.
      Love,
      Paul

  26. Pingback: Whirlwinds And Wound Healers | Message in a Bottle·

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