I love that question, "is your glass half-empty or half-full?" For me when I was drinking it was always half-empty but now in sobriety it’s more than half-full, it’s overflowing.
Overflowing with abundance, opportunities, gratitude, kindness, and, most of all, hope. The darkness of despair is transformed with the light of hope.
It’s amazing how we can’t see until we can see and we can’t hear until we can hear. This Zen-like statement is so true: when the students is ready the teacher will appear. The teacher for me is humility and I had to render myself teachable. In my denial, I thought I knew it all. Little did I know that I knew nothing of what the gift of soberiety meant.
If soberiety could be bought, the price would be beyond our reach. Money cannot buy soberiety — in fact it’s the opposite: surrender, surrender, surrender. It’s surrender to booze and surrender to life. As the Zen saying has it: you have got to give it away to keep it.
There is no way back in the dark days of addiction that I could believe my life would be what it’s like now. The old stinking thinking would have told me it was impossible. Alcoholism is a disease that tells you that you don’t have a disease. A disease that keeps you imprisoned within the bottle, that you believed did its magic but became a curse.
I love the idea of a sobering though. Within mindfulness practice, our perception changes and when I get caught up in a train of thought that can be untrue, a sobering thought that liberates me from that tyranny.
You discover that soberiety is much much more than putting the cork in the bottle. Soberiety is a way of living that is exciting and gives you that magical feeling of being alive. Alive to the mystery of life and its abundance of blessings.
Back in my dark days, I didn’t know what to do nor how to do it but now here I am with the gift of insight that tells me that there’s more right than wrong with me. How wonderful it is to find that voice of insight. That voice that tells you that you are not alone, that you are a part of and not apart or an outsider as I would have seen myself. To be connected to life and not disconnected, to shift from selfishness to unselfishness, to grow up.
In my drinking days I was in a state of arrested development, that stagnation of maturation and in soberiety I began to grow.
My father, God rest him, told me that I reminded him of a burnt tree that he saw in Twinbrook on his way to chapel. The burnt tree had green shoots, sprouting from the trunk and he watched the shoots become branches, filled with leaves. He actually took a picture of the tree and had it as a screensaver on his computer. For a son to hear his dad see that transformation is beyond words. I know that it took others to help me grow.
What a gift to be able to see things through and of course to have someone who believes in you and stands by you through thick and thin. That person is my wife Brenda, a woman who naturally knows humility, and my mum, dad, brother and sister, who never turned their backs on me even when they had to watch me descend into the depths of depravity.
Alcoholism is a family disease and no one escapes the suffering that it brings. No one is unscathed by its destructive force. Relationships are stripped away like paint off a door. You then discover that the relationship of all relationships is the relationship that you have with yourself. This is how the great poet Derek Walcott explains it in his poem Love after Love.
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
I would like to reach out and thank all those who were there for me and are still there for me now. Without you I would still be lost.