January has become a month of celebrations for me, today. My day of birth is on the 21st, my sobriety Birthday is on the 1st. I must admit I never thought I would be around long enough to see this age nor put together this amount of time in recovery. I suffered from the Peter Pan syndrome up until my 30’s. There was absolutely no way I would ever grow up. How boring, how mundane, how uneventful! I was an individual that always had contempt prior to investigation. Well, since I’ve come in to recovery I have had an opportunity to do some research. Here’s some of my experience with growing up and taking responsibility for my life.
January 1st, 2011 I woke up in Jail facing my third charge of Drunk Driving. I don’t refer to it as driving while impaired (DWI) because that doesn’t come close to explaining how inebriated I used to drive around. I was 30 years old on this day detoxing in my cell. My first Drunk Driving conviction was my senior year of High School, I was 18 at that time. I would love to tell you that some great things happened between those ages but that’s not the reality.
I started many things, never finished any. Never learned the necessary tools to be a productive person. Rarely paid my own bills, always needed financial support. Somehow I managed to support my alcohol/drug habit everyday since I was 17. That seemed to be my only success, setting up a life where I could drink all day everyday. During this period of my life Birthdays had little to no meaning for me. In actuality every Birthday that came I hoped would be my last. I always said I’d never commit suicide but I drank, drove and used drugs like that was my mission.
People always say in recovery “it’s difficult to get sober at a young age.” I agree with this, however it’s also tough to get sober older. I turned 31 on January 21st of 2011 sober three weeks. I had the mentality and skill set of a 15-year-old scared boy. This proves to be difficult because people see an adult standing before them and have greater expectations. With younger guys they have the old excuse, “he’s just a kid.” I could no longer rely on that.
Time to grow up!
With faith and reliance on others and a higher power that’s exactly what I began to do. The people from the meetings showed me love and compassion. They accepted me for the ill-equipped man child that I was. I sought the solution and followed the ones before me that were asking positive change in there lives. I started to gain all those tools i was missing. I had become capable of managing my day-to-day life. I began to fall in love with my life. My sobriety Birthdays became a time for reflection on a previous life. I do believe that old Charlie had died and this new individual was emerging. Unknown to me at the time I was beginning to grow up. It wasn’t any of those things I thought it would be, it was absolutely amazing. I understood the value in consistency, showing up everyday for myself and others. I saw the strength that came from working on my weaknesses. I found community and connection in working with others.
I am now proud to be 39 years old and 7 years sober. I can’t say that I have the mentality of a 39-year-old but I‘m definitely closer than I’ve ever been. I pay my bills, I competed and completed a few endurance events. I started my own business and get to help other’s facing the challenges I’ve overcome. I am very blessed to have a full life and to celebrate my Birthday with loved ones. Come on 40, bring it on!!
Charles M – Austin, TX