One of the highlights of 2012 was....
I was sober. I made it through another year without a drop of alcohol. I am proud of myself. However, I am also aware of pride as a weakness. I am aware that there is a constant need to keep myself in check. Officially, I haven't drank since 12/31/10 so today, actually, is my two year anniversary. I join a long list of people that I know that do not drink, such as my brother-in-law Mark, not because they can't, but because they choose to not do so. There are also celebrities I think about, such as Metallica's James Hetfield, that are also living a sober life. Editor's Note: See the video at the bottom of this post.
This is where I am in my life. Sure, drinking had a lot of fun times. The bottom-line, though, is that being sober is in line with the priorities in my life, which include being the best husband, father, son, and Christian I can be. When I drank, I failed miserably in being those roles. That's what it all boils down to.
My sobriety is something I cherish like a prized possession. I have no intention to ever give it up or to relinquish the feeling I have with being sober. Life is a precious thing. I watch my mother, who has dementia, and I realize that. I learn about an idiot that brings guns to an elementary school and murders 20 kids, all with their entire life ahead of them, as well as six teachers in Newtown, CT. My life is not about avenging their deaths or anything like that, but it IS about learning from those deaths that I am not in control and I am not in charge of my destiny - God is. And when I give myself to God, I sin less frequently, and I live a better life.
I have made a list of the 20 incidents where I was an idiot when I was drunk. The list, which I will not include here, ranges from 1988, when I first drank, through the 90s, when I was young, out-of-control, unfocused, and dumb, through August of 2010. And that list of 20? That didn't include the time I got drunk on Christmas Eve eve with JR and KK in 1990 and acted like an ass. I have the cassette tape (and MP3 file of it) to prove my assertion. It doesn't include the time I drove when I should not have driven home from CR to North Liberty in 1995 when I would go over to the bar across from my employer (at the time) with my manager (at the time) and try to solve all the employer's issues. It doesn't include the time that Keith, Jim, and Len came over and I pushed Miller Lite tallboys at them while playing euchre, oblivious to what I looked like as well as oblivious to the fact that they still had to drive home.
In summary, that list of 20 doesn't include the majority of times when I was flat-out embarrassing to those I care about and those that care about me, including family, friends, and even strangers that I have never seen again. I was "that guy" that was too drunk for his own good. I was "that guy" who made people uncomfortable. I was "that guy" that overstepped the unwritten line of acceptable and unacceptable. One other example is that when Karen threw me a surprise party for my 39th birthday, my friends got up and "roasted" me. I can think of at least three different stories that were told that night where it involved me being too drunk to take responsibility for my actions - one involving a canoe, one involving when I was supposed to be watching my children, and one when I passed out at a concert and slept during Sevendust. That's a long list of incidents where I made poor decisions and, in a sense, I hurt the people I love. That's when it made me realize that only I can control whether I drink or not. And, 2 years ago today, I stopped.
I have never made the bold proclamation that I will never drink again. I have no intention, right now, to ever drink again, but I've never come out and said it. Until now.
I have no intention of EVER drinking again.
My priorities are Karen, Megan, and Alex. I don't know if I ever really acted like they were until I stopped drinking. Emotionally, I hurt all three of them by not being sober over the years. After them, come the rest of my family and my friends, followed by my passions for music, writing, and drums. I am a happier person when I am sober.
One of the negatives, if there is one, is that I may be more boring as a sober person. Today is New Year's Eve and I am not eager to go out and party. Frankly, I would be content to sit on the couch and rent the movie "Ted" and watch it with Karen. Megan is having friends over and they are going to watch movies in the basement. Alex is going to a friend's house. Last year, Karen and I went out to eat and then to the Riverside casino. Since we were just there a few weeks ago and also at the Isle of Capri in Waterloo, I've had my quota for the casino and watching dealers and machines take my money. That, of course, doesn't mean I won't go because I know Karen would like to go.
As for 2013, it looks to be an exciting year. January is filling up fast with a trip to Moline, IL, to see the Harlem Globetrotters, a possible concert on 2/1 (3 Days Grace/ShineDown/POD), Mark's band's "final" gig in February with a stay at the casino, another concert that same weekend (Sevendust), and then Megan going to Orlando, FL, with the band in April. After all that, it will be summer again and we will probably fill our days and nights with Alex's last baseball season in the Babe Ruth league, camping in Elkader, and enjoying family time. Also, Father Walter Helms is retiring and we will get a new pastor at Saint Thomas More. That will be exciting. In November, the four of us are going to NCYC, Megan and Alex as participants, Karen and I as chaperones, in Indianapolis, IN. Then it will be Christmas again.
Throughout all of those events, I plan to keep drumming with Matthew, Joe, and Brian Guitar as well as drumming at Saint Thomas More masses when we are in town. I plan to continue writing for Dailyvault.com and listening to some great music along the way. I also hope that there are bands that schedule concerts near Iowa that creep into the schedule. I would love to also see the Metallica 3-D movie when it is released sometime in the summer.
At work, without getting into gory details, there is a lot of excitement for beta releases of a new version of the system I document. There is also a lot of anticipation regarding changes to the way in which I do my work. Instead of copying and pasting to update our manuals, we are inching towards a single source with tags for each customer and a template that controls our formatting. The days of using Ctrl+B to make text bold or manually changing the font of the headings in the documents are ending. There is a lot of work to be done and I am happy to say that I am going to probably shoulder a lot of it. And that makes me extremely proud and fortunate to work for the company I call my employer.
I have told my manager that I do not think I have ever woke up in the morning and dreaded going into work. I can't say that (at all) about my previous employer (from 10/10 - 4/11) or even the main employer in my career (10/98 - 10/10), though the 10/98-10/10 employer was very good to me. Without the 12 years there, I would not be where I am professionally or, actually, personally. I would probably, in all honesty, still drink alcohol had I not left there for the 10/10 - 4/11 misguided opportunity. And that word, opportunity, is how I approach my day-to-day living. I have an opportunity each day to live a good life.
I know I only have three followers of this blog and that is really great. For being my follower, I thank you, especially if you've made it to this point in this extensive 1000th post. I seriously debated about whether to go 'all in' on this 1000th post about my sobriety. There are a lot of reasons to keep it all inside of me and to put up a front about what I really think about. I know, over the last 1000 posts, I have done that. I do not know if there will be another 1000 posts on this blog or where my life will lead me.
I will say this. I know that it is God that has determined my path, not me. I know without the turmoil He has put on my path, I would not be where I was. I had to leave the 12 year employer to go through hell to end up where I am, professionally. I had to do all those things drunk in order to see myself for who and what I was and to then have the intelligence to look at myself and make a change. God is in charge. There's a popular quote that says, "If you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans."
With that in mind, I do have big plans for which I choose to be as a person and within the realm of what I can reasonably do or not do. For example, I can choose to be sober. I can choose to treat my family with love and kindness. I can choose to be a good friend to those that have always been there in my life for me during the difficult times. I can choose to be a fantastic co-worker and an asset to my employer. The days when I would choose to not be those things or to cloud those things with alcohol - those mistakes will not be repeated.
As I am, this is my 1000th blog post. I don't see a lot of blogs with this longevity. I hope to continue to write on this blog for at least the next year, if not longer. Thanks for reading.
Editor's Note: This is a video of James Hetfield discussing his sobriety, which is extremely relevant to this post.