Posts Tagged ‘never too late to get sober’

I happened to be in the college Math Lab the other day (not to be confused with Meth Lab) when I felt a  tap on my shoulder, I looked around and saw an old friend who I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. I know him from AA and it turns out that he’s back at school too and plugging away at his degree. As we were chatting I happened to glance down the hallway and noticed another familiar face walking towards us…enter a another friend from the rooms of AA.

We talked for about ten minutes, catching up and discussing what each of us are studying and what we hope to do with our lives once we get a degree. It was an odd feeling and the irony of our meeting seemed to dawn on us all at the same time because we all shut up, looked at each other and said, “Fuck, this is weird!

Why was it weird? Well just over four years ago I had somehow managed to get 6 months sober and I was convinced the lady standing opposite me now was going to die. She was out of control, living on the streets, drinking and smoking crack, weighing in at 95 pounds. Yet, here she was now, clean and sober for over four years, looking healthy, back in school after 30 years away from it and talking animatedly about her goals, studying and working a regular job.

Given how destructive and all-consuming this disease is, it never ceases to amaze me when anyone gets clean and more so how our lives can change because of it. We recovering addicts are definitely a resilient lot and when we channel our efforts in a new positive direction we are a force to be reckoned with. It’s hard for me to comprehend where I was 5 years ago and where my friends in the Math lab were too. As we stood there talking, we joked that if we could put as much effort into our studying as we did with our using we would be okay.

Well, it seems that the three of us must be doing that because these once hopeless alcoholics are now happy straight A students…and we are all over 40 years old. Sobriety has taught me so many things but especially that it is never too late to change and it’s definitely never too late to learn.

I received an email yesterday from a lady who is just starting to live sober. She has 30 days in recovery under her belt and is understandably nervous, apprehensive and scared.  She mentioned that she thought she may have left it too late in life to get sober. At 47 she feels as though she has wasted so much of her life, drinking away many years, before she finally admitted that she had a problem.

I remember thinking the same thing too and many of my friends did. I was 36 when I first got sober and now I’m 41, I have friends who were 26, 45, 54 and 60 when they sobered up.  It really doesn’t matter what age we are when we get sober, there will always be some excuse not to. It’s the nature of our disease, the part of our addiction that is centered in our minds, the part that tells us we are useless and worthless.

Feeling like this is far from unusual and unfortunately this thinking keeps many of us ‘out there’ drinking and using. Our disease is telling us, “What’s the point in getting sober, you’re ____  years old (fill in the blank), it’s too late, you’ve wasted your life up until now anyway, what can you possibly do?”

I’ll never forget this one AA meeting I went to early in sobriety. An older man was sharing, he started by saying he was 75 years old (I immediately assumed that he must have twenty or thirty years sober because of his seniority).  I was very surprised to hear that he had just celebrated his first year of sobriety. I was even more surprised when he said the last year had been the happiest year of his life. He had reconnected with his children, his grandchildren and he had found a new happiness that he never thought existed for someone like him. When I heard his story, I was inspired and thought “Wow, that’s f**king awesome – there is hope for me!”

Yesterday, when I read the email from the 47 year old, it made me think of that 75 year old man again and I decided to look up some achievements made by people later in life and here are a few of what I found:

  • At age 40 – John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth
  • At age 43 – Marie Curie won her second Nobel prize
  • At age 45 – George Foreman recaptured the heavyweight championship with a 10th round knockout, becoming the oldest person ever to win the heavyweight championship.
  • At age 47 – Edward Jenner, an English doctor, pioneered the use of vaccination against smallpox.
  • At age 49 – Julia Child published her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking
  • At age 53 – Ludwig van Beethoven completed his Ninth Symphony despite being so deaf that, at the end of its first performance, he could not hear whether the audience was applauding.
  • At age 59 – Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross.
  • At age 62 – J.R.R. Tolkien published the first volume of his fantasy series, Lord of the Rings

Reading about these people inspired me all over again, it’s never too late to change our lives and to get clean and sober, and while most of us won’t be orbiting the earth or winning a Nobel Prize; we get to live a life that we never thought imaginable – a sober one.  We get to experience life and the things that come with it, all the cliches – the good and the bad, the laughter and the tears, the success and the failures.

We all have something to offer and we all deserve a second chance, whether that chance comes at 27, 47 or 77 – don’t let your DISEASE talk you out of it.