The following is an updated version of a story posted in Medium on March 7, 2021.
I’ve been thinking about my sobriety lately. On September 11, 2011 (Yes, that September 11), I had my last drink of alcohol and any mind-altering drug. This year will mark the 11th anniversary of the beginning (It is always a beginning. Every day) of my new life. My Creative Non-Fiction Writing class at CSULB has me thinking about those previous years. Drunk and stoned. I can’t help wondering what my life would be like if I had begun sobriety earlier. Say nearly fifty-six years ago, give or take. My first joint. Trust me, it went downhill after that.
All those years being stoned on everything under the stars. Later, added drinking to my toxic mix. Drunk and stoned was like walking hesitantly into the ocean and then feeling like I was sinking until I finally gave up and surrendered to the water.
One morning, I woke up and decided that I was too damn old for the daily struggle that haunted my life for more than forty-five years (1966–2011). The pain, the slow beating pain that reminded me that I am the only one that could stop it. The hangovers, the anger that erupts from them, the holes in my memory, the emptiness of my life. Enough.
I’m here now, and I’m alive. Yeah, there are some health issues, but overall, I’m okay, and that’s better than drunk and stoned or dead any day of the week.
I don’t live sober because I believe I’ve solved an extraordinary riddle of life. I live sober because I want to live longer and happier. Sobriety is living one moment to the next as everyone else does but with a reminder that one wrong decision can be deadly. Unconsciously, often consciously, I am on constant watch. Don’t fuck up. Once I fall into the hole, there is no easy way out. The nightmares will return and trust me, no one wants them to resume more than me.
Please don’t give me a medal or pat me on the back for being sober. This isn’t a competition to win. This is a lifelong struggle to make it through a day, one second to the next, one hour to the next. If you want to say or do something, say you will be there for a loved one or a friend who may one day face the same decision I had to make. Please pass it on. My wife, Sumire Gant, always says, “Life is Good.” It really is, sober.