Yes. I’m more alive than ever. It’s been three years since I poured out that last beer, and since then I’ve felt better than ever before in my life.
I’m not rich, but my business is successful enough to keep the lights on. I’m still going to A.A. meetings two nights a week, and I volunteer at a homeless shelter on Saturday mornings. And yes, I’m still single. I need to be a whole person before I can commit to another relationship, and I’m not there yet, but I’m trying, and I’m staying sober one day at a time.
I have my own apartment now, next door to my Abuela. She had a stroke last year and needs help around the house, so I visit her every day to make sure she has food and to make sure her clothes and dishes are clean.
None of these things make me a saint. I still struggle with my temper, but by the grace of God and without alcohol, I’m able to channel my anger into productive things. This is why I started volunteering at the homeless shelter. I saw people standing in the cold, so much worse off than I’d ever been, and it made me angry that no-one was helping them.
Old Jesus would have tried to pick a fight with one of the social workers over their lack of resources, or just gone home and started drunkenly ranting at his family. Sober, I found the strength to step up and help. Anger is a natural reaction to injustice. The difference between a drunk (or a dry drunk) and a sober person is how we respond to that reaction. I could either blame others, or I could step up and do my part.
And yes, I understand that anger is my own personal burden. Others struggle with depression, or self-pity, or anxiety. Our society teaches us that these things are flaws, which is one reason so many people turn to alcohol to dull their emotions. Dulling emotions is not living. Ignoring them or suppressing them is not living. To be alive, truly alive, I had to accept my feelings and use them as motivation to do the right thing.
If you’ve been where I was, I want you to know you’re not a horrible person for feeling what you’re feeling. You’re just not living to the fullest. And you are always welcome at A.A., or in any other recovery group. If I can start living, anyone can.