The Path Was Rocky, But Worth It
By Steven Michael Sarber
Sobriety is different for everybody, and so it is hard to put down into words what it feels like to have reached such an awesome goal after so many set-backs. But I will do my best.
My path to sobriety was rocky, and full of detours. I lost my way often; and often stayed lost. I am sober now. Not 'dry', or 'on the wagon', but 'sober'. That is one magical word. Sobriety. While in active addiction, it feels like the most unreachable goal ever dreamed.
While I was drinking, I never- not once, for a fleeting second- believed I could ever be sober. The most I ever hoped to accomplish was the illusion of sobriety. In truth, I would even suffer panic attacks if the night was nearing a close and I hadn't acquired any money for alcohol. I sold everything I could to buy beer; guitars, my wife's CD collection, whatever wasn't nailed down.
Now, in looking back, my degradation saddens me. But it shaped me into who I am. Today I like myself. Today my wife and son love me more than I probably deserve, considering the things I did when I drank. I was hateful, self-centered, rotten. I only thought about; cared about, drink.
At twenty-one, I received my first DWI. My blood-alcohol content was .284. I never fully understood what that meant until I was in rehab. A counselor explained to me that my blood was twenty-eight percent alcohol. Twenty-eight percent! And I was out there driving. It was appalling, but I also wore it as a badge. It was the highest BAC of anyone I knew.
It took four more DWI's, a near-divorce, and more than fourteen months total prison time before my eyes finally opened. During separate occassion's I missed my son's second, and fourth birthdays. I missed Christmas', Thanksgiving dinners; I missed a whole lot of important things I took for granted anyway.
I still wasn't learning. I cared, but not enough to change.
During what I thought might have been a real good attempt to become a sober man, I suffered pulmonary embolisms; three blood-clots in my right lung. I was twenty-eight at the time. The day I got out of the hospital, I bought a bottle of vodka. I didn't need the excuse; I would have drank anyway. I wasn't ready yet.
I hid my drinking from my wife for about four months, then I drank openly in front of her. It was like a slap in the face to her, and that was were she began to fall out of love with me. I still hid my drinking from the rest of the family, and I felt terrible when they would tell me how proud they were of me.
Finally, I went back to prison after violating my probation. When I shipped out to my state home, it was truly a God-send. I hadn't known my wife was falling out of love; she told me over the phone the day after Christmas. I cried. In a room in front of eighty-some-odd hard-cases, I sat on the phone in tears. What had I expected? That she would let me walk all over her forever? That getting evicted from three apartments, having our power shut off on numerous occasions, having most of our friends not even want us around, that none of that should matter to her?
I had never cried in front of her. She realized a change was coming over me. I was finished. I couldn't live like this anymore. She agreed to keep an open mind, and to see how things would be when I was released from prison.
I immersed myself in recovery. I spent all possible time in AA and NA groups. The prison I was serving time in happened to have the most groups of any prison in the state of Missouri. It was exactly where I needed to be at the time.
I gave my addictions over to God, and my cries for help were answered because I was ready to help myself.
Now, my ideal day is a sober one. I spend time with my son. I see my wife when she gets home from work. Then I go to work in the evening. It is not exactly a perfect arrangement, but it works for us. I write when I get home from work, and every night when I go to bed, I thank the Lord for another sober day. Then I ask for the next day. I do it this way because it works for me.
I do not think I am unique. I do not think I am special (even if my family would now argue that point). I am loved and blessed. I have a wonderful system of support. I am still recovering, and it is great. I love the time with my son, who is now almost six. He does remember I was away for awhile, and he knows it was jail. Thankfully he was too young to remember me at my worst. Now, because of the path I have chosen, where doors were once closed, new ones are opening. My family respects me again, and that is a feeling I wouldn't trade for the world.
I am thankful every day for my life, and my sobriety.
My sober date is September 29, 2005. I have not touched a drop, nor desired to return to my former level of self-destruction. I am living proof that it can be done- for anyone suffering in the same way, there is hope.