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Celebrating a year of sobriety: Giving up the celebrity good life for a life worth living

Celebrating a year of sobriety: Giving up the celebrity good life for

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Something is happening. A re-birth? A restoration? A revival? An awakening? Lado

I am sitting in my usual Wednesday night meeting, waiting for the end-of-month celebration to begin. It’s birthday night, a time to praise folks who have been working their program in a way all can be proud of. We are rejoicing years of sobriety/clean time, but the strangest thing is happening — tonight is my birthday.

I am contemplating the times that have come and gone in the first year, some say the most challenging, and at times rewarding year of recovery. People will talk about miracles and turnarounds, they will mention physic shifts and selfless deeds to be emulated, they will tell stories of rewarding acts of valor, but oddly enough, this night they will be speaking of me.

I’m pretty sure they told us in rehab, look around, of the 20 of you in here, statistics say only two of you will be sober/clean at the end of year one. Has it really been a year? Who is the other one? How could I be one of the two? Damn statistics, I’m not special enough to be in the 10 percent party — that is not in my wheelhouse. It is easy to revert, become complacent, switch things around to my way of thinking. It is easy to forget.

 I’m pretty sure they told us in rehab, look around, of the 20 of you in here, statistics say only two of you will be sober/clean at the end of year one. Has it really been a year? Who is the other one? 

 This kind of night does not come about in simple fashion or with self will, it modestly proceeds with action — daily action. It is a time to reflect for a moment, and then settle into the now, it is a mix of Eastern and Western philosophies, of personal religious beliefs, of spirituality.

I can remember the past like a fading painting. It’s there for me to see, to ponder, to enjoy, to relish, to hate, to despise, to dispute, to mute/block out- it’s there, no escaping. Something is happening. A re-birth? A restoration? A revival? An awakening?

It’s hard to pinpoint yet easy to surrender too. It’s also evident that something else is transpiring, something is gone ……

Goodbye to the high life

Gone are the days of embarking on The Rolling Stones private jet to the Dominican Republic for an extended boondoggle; gone are the $15,000 a night suites in Las Vegas. The hotel staffs at Ritz Carltons and Four Seasons throughout the country/world knowing my name; the nightly presents waiting on my pillow after slicing through the town.

Gone are the mornings starting off black water rafting in Queenstown, New Zealand, and ending the afternoons being flown by helicopter to a glacier peak for champagne last runs. Gone are the weeks in Aspen, the months in Kauai, the private Caribbean cruises, the European jaunts.

Gone is my favorite hat rest — Harbor Island. Gone is the celebrity shoulder-rubbing, afterparties with Madonna and Elton, Warren and Jack, Goldie and Kurt.

Gone are the big city lives in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Gone are the best tables at the trendiest restaurants, the VIP concierge treatment, the purple and black labels. Gone is the bon vivant lifestyle.

Gone are the front page stories in the Wall Street Journal. Gone are the private secretaries, the corner offices with great city views, the Top Sales awards. Gone are the endless rounds — on the best walks in golf, the floor seats right behind Michael, Scottie, and Dennis, the 50 yard-line seats in Lambeau to see Brett at his best, the company Gold Card, the Mc-Super sized expense accounts, the company cars, the constant cocktail receptions, the countless incentives.

In the same breath, gone is my dysfunctional 13-year partnership, gone are the trinkets of trust, the deal I made with myself to only drink if I work out — resulting in daily healthy drinking binges. Gone is the constant indescribable depression with no definable relief, the recreational drug use which turned into a habit, that transitioned from smoking to slamming meth.

Gone are the endless waits for the drug dealer, gone are the spiraling drug runs, the 8-to-10 days straight awake filled with paranoia and angst, gone are the parade of unmentionable serial individuals, the anonymous hook-ups, gone are my morals, my health, my teeth.

 Gone is a life well-lived, a life well- tested, and in many senses, gone is my life — here is my new life. My name is Ted M., I am an addict/alcoholic, and I am in recovery.

 Gone are my suicide attempts with blood running down my arms, that warm trickling sensation as the only reminder I was alive. Gone are my psychotic breaks, the ramblings of a mad man, my abusive ambulance rides, my multiple mental hospital stays.

Gone are the days I would go to bed at 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon, only to awaken to another day sentenced to an eternity of my own blank stares.

Gone are my lies, my false-starts, my numerous rehab stays. Gone is the hurt too impossible to mention. Gone are the long days starting at 5 a.m. with tumblers of rum followed by full-time camp outs on a couch just to start it all over the next day.

Gone are my family’s movements from confusion to disappointment to ostracizing.

Gone is a life well-lived, a life well- tested, and in many senses, gone is my life —here is my new life.

My name is Ted M., I am an addict/alcoholic, and I am in recovery.

A journey to Houston

I have had quite a journey that has led me to Houston. To a rehab center in Clear Lake, called Into Action Recovery Centers. It was by attending this life-changing facility that combines AA recovery with therapeutic foundations, that I was finally able to get real with myself. 

But what was the real difference this time, when eight other times it didn’t work/stick?

The hands-on dedication and enthusiasm of ownership really helped me turn the corner to letting people back in my life. Where else do the owners show up, frequently, with milk and Captain Crunch at midnight to feed the clients? I was able to realize the word "surrender" didn’t have to have a negative connotation and by doing so, I could let go of so much baggage. 

I learned through simple frequent action, some minor daily tweaks to my routine, and a belief that instructions to a happier life were at my disposal, that what once was a life in dire straits, was now an opportunity for rebirth.

 I know if I stay committed to helping others, keeping my side of the street clean, and trusting that someone other than me has supreme power, now will be the time for success not measured in worldly things.

 I realized, with their help, that all the sins and provocations of my past did not have to be numbed through alternate means. My moral compass could be returned to me.

By becoming spiritual and learning the importance of getting out of self and daily action, I have become a person dedicated to a life that has the word “recovery” associated with it, but really it is simply a life of integrity and respect. The time had come to restack my priorities.

I walked out of the center on a Monday after 98 days of treatment at 7:30 a.m. and was at work at 7:35 a.m. for the group that had re-awakened me. The time had come to concentrate on my foundation and not my pocketbook. If it needs to be labeled a spiritual calling, so be it. I’d classify it as an awakening of sorts.

My path has led me through many business ventures — this seems to be more of a life/attitude restructuring.  Also, Houston may have the occasional hurricane, but so far as I had seen there were no -45 degree winds blowing off any lakes or any talk of wind-chill factor.

I know if I stay committed to helping others, keeping my side of the street clean, and trusting that someone other than me has supreme power, now will be the time for success not measured in worldly things.

Now is the end of my first year of sobriety. A year filled with joy and promises captured, a year filled with teachable lessons — both given and received.

Now is the time for good for nothings, now is the time for extending a helping hand, for service work.

Now is the time to listen and learn.

Now is the time for getting joy, satisfaction, and respect for honest enterprises. Now is the time to be human and expect life to happen. Now is the time to be selfless. Now is the time to being open, to re-learn manners, trust, common courtesy, now is the time to embrace a healthier version of love. Now is the time for Action. Someone once told me, “The day you stop running is the day you arrive.”

Gone are the shadows of my past . . . but I am not forgotten — here is the future!

Editor's Note: Because the Twelve Step philosophy is to preserve anonymity, we have not published Ted M.'s full name. However, he can be reached by email at ted@intoactionrecovery.com