• Hazelden Renewal Center

Jump Sober

collage of books

The author spoke of his earlier self, describing how he so desperately wanted to bring good things into his life to attract the wealth, health and happiness he had always craved. He eagerly and often lined his shelves with tons of books about all things spiritual. This fascinated me, here was someone writing about wanting the same things I did and didn’t start with sterile how-to’s. I was also intrigued with our similar desire for answers — and, I too had shelves filled to the brim with such books.

He went on to describe the “ah-ha’s” each book he read would bring him but that the elation would not last — maybe only as long as while he was reading it. Ok, that got my attention because that was always my issue! Having been disappointed so many times with a book I thought would be the one to help me turn the corner and understand how to manifest my dreams, only to find that none of them did. Countless times I’d ask myself why I wasn’t grasping this Law of Attraction thing. Why did I not feel more settled and happier in my life?

He said his life was full of anxiety and his work was crazy and chaotic. Constantly worried, he was always afraid and felt pressured from all sides. The more overloaded he felt, the more avid his search for answers. That hit me right between the eyes. Could it be — someone else was on a treadmill leading to nowhere, too? Holy crap, he was describing me. Never had I been so absorbed and open to receive a message in my life. They say when you know, you know, and I knew with every fiber of my being that I was about to learn something that would be profoundly true for me. These may have been his words, but he was telling my story …

I’m not even sure when the frantic pace began but my reality became one hellish week of deadlines, fear and worry after another. It felt like I had to fight and struggle with everything. I was successfully climbing that corporate ladder and making lots of money, but it cost me dearly. If there was one word that described my working persona, it would be panic. Two words would be PANIC & FRIGHT. How could this stranger, whose book was reaching me so profoundly, be describing my life to a ‘T’?

Predictably, my coping mechanism for all the chaos, turmoil, frantic and treacherous worry of my days was alcohol. The perfect “go to” antidote for my panic and fear. I’d give myself a sober dry-out session most weekends, trying to soften the alcoholic assault by reading as many spiritual books as I could but during the week, it was drink till you drop to blot out the stupid insane crazy pace of the day so that I could shut my brain down and go to sleep. And then, of course, each morning, I’d have to make that floppy hung over mess presentable enough to do it all over again.

Unhappy and afraid all the time, there was only room for reaction, things just moved too fast. My poor little weekends; Saturday was spent trying to unwind as I read my feel-good books, and Sunday was full of dodging the dread for the week to come. So much of what I read was lost because the book didn’t have my full attention. I desperately wanted change but couldn’t see my way to it.

So, to then come to his revelation, the answer, the how and why — I have to admit, the simplicity caught me by surprise and felt a little anticlimactic, and my first thought was, “Damn, was this going to be another one of ‘those’ books?” Thankfully, it was not. In fact, I was about to have an “ah-ha” moment. My excitement was intense. This writer made sense and woke me up – like a bucket of ice cubes!

Simply put, my negativity counterbalanced all the good in my life. All that chaos and disorder I was experiencing was sabotaging any and all of my many efforts to bring peace and harmony into my life. Allowing in all that worry and stress stifled the positive.

You’re probably saying to yourself, “well this seems pretty obvious.” I would agree. But, let’s say you were driving 90 mph (or faster), how clearly could you see out the window? How keen would your senses be, having to focus on the fast-moving bullet you were moving in? Not to mention the alcoholic haze that saturated my reality. This figurative analogy illustrates my point precisely so, yeah, now I get it but back then, the whole thing was a blur. And, sometimes a teacher or a lesson will appear at a vital time because something in us wants to learn or is ready to advance. For all I know, I may have read this same simple answer in the umpteen dozen books I’d read previously but for whatever reason, it did not resonate. This illumination, this “ah-ha” was me finally realizing I’d been in control of this madness the whole time and could literally stop it at any moment because I was in charge – mind blowing.

Regrettably, I can’t remember the name of the book or the author of this very impactful material but I’m sure there will come a day I can pay my respects. He has my deepest appreciation for helping to empower me and launch me into actions that began the purge for all things insane and frantic that made me want to flee. I can still remember that moment; knowing I was going to walk away from a six-figure, well-worn career of close to 40 years. On my own. I didn’t get fired, I didn’t storm out. I made a plan, gave my employer a month’s notice and stepped off.

Finally, I was awake and began to think enough of myself to prevent further deterioration. And I do mean that. I was disintegrating. I literally could not have taken another month or season or day of the hysteria. Thankfully, guided by my subconscious – my higher self, I listened and didn’t resist. I gave ME my life back. Oddly enough, up until that point, I hadn’t considered that I had that power, I was so busy following other people’s rules and obliging everyone else, jumping from one scary thing to the other that it did not occur to me to take matters into my own hands — for my own happiness and well-being. And so, finally giving myself permission to stop compromising MY life for the sake of others, I made an epic change and took my first intentional steps toward moderation and sober living.

It has been a few years now, since this bold step-off move of mine. A lot has happened to me – some good and some not so good but one thing is abundantly clear – I am more alive and happier than ever before. I no longer feel the need to hide or escape and even though I still have work to do, that’s ok, I’m worth it.

I strongly believe our lives are meant to be lived intentionally, every day and in the direction that serves us best. I am who I am because of my experiences. We come here to learn and to grow. My life purpose has become wonderfully clear to me, and whether it be through my art or books and stories I write, I will make it my mission to help others realize their personal power to create the life of their dreams and to step out from under the haze that clouds their existence and prevents them from being who they really are. I know what it feels like to hide and I know what it feels like to finally stop hiding. All that we could ever want, we already have available to us.

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