Why is sobriety something to be celebrated when nobody should become an addict to begin with? Why is becoming normal and non-abusive again something that deserves praise and recognition? Isn't that the wrong message to send to a group of people who are trying to rid themselves of self-pity, delusion, arrogance and grandiosity?
Back in 2012, I wrote a post, Living Amends, and in it there is an important story. It was about a girl I know who treated her heroin addiction with Methadone and became horribly addicted to Methadone for 12 years. Methadone destroyed her life and her body and nearly killed her. At any rate, she had finally been sober for ONE WHOLE YEAR (wow, yay) and on her "sober anniversary", she ran to the phone and excitedly called her parents to tell them. It went something like this.
"Mom, Dad, I've been sober for an entire year!"
"I got my 1-year sobriety chip!"
"Great. So why are you calling? Is there anything else going on?"
The conversation was very anti-climactic. Her parents were not impressed, nor should they be. They basically said, Look, how about you stay sober for the rest of your life without needing a trophy for it or announcing it on the nightly news?
What wise parents my friend has. The conversation humbled her, and of course, anything that humbles addicts is good for us. Both a perception she held about accomplishment and an attitude she possessed about self-importance were challenged and ultimately shattered. She changed that day, and since then has helped more addicts recover than I can count. She came to learn what true accomplishment really is, and because of this, her life of service has been a tremendous success.
So let me again repeat a very important lesson for us drug addicts and alcoholics. In fact, thinking this way is so important that if we do not, we will most likely never make it.
Achieving physical sobriety and recovering is not an accomplishment, it is our responsibility.
The truth is that we never should have become drug addicts and alcoholics to begin with. It is wrong to think that we were stricken with addiction and are victims who have since achieved a great victory. Our addiction has ripped the hearts out of so many and caused indescribable damage, pain and agony. Our loved ones have suffered beyond measure, and are often forced to deal with their own version of terror, anxiety, grief, depression, chaos and insanity, all inflicted upon them by our behavior.
So please, dig deep, and ask yourself if it is really appropriate for us to sit around congratulating ourselves because we stopped hurting those who we have destroyed so willingly? But hey, if you want to pat yourself on the back, that is your prerogative. This is just my view, and it is part of the foundation that has enabled me to become recovered and propel me into a life of adulthood, a life where there are other people who exist besides me, other people who have feelings, worries, concerns, illnesses and hard times, as well as good times and blessings.
Because of my newfound attitude, given I was so pathologically obsessed with myself, my needs and my image, I am now able to both empathize with my loved ones as well as congratulate them on their own successes. But let me tell you something, I wouldn't be able to behave like an adult if I was still patting myself on the back for achieving sobriety. The entire point of getting sober is because we are getting work done that should have been done years ago! We are achieving something that should have never needed to be achieved! We don't celebrate our sobriety because nobody in our lives wants to continue to have to go back there and re-live this total lunacy.
The point, for me anyway, of getting better is to leave my disgusting addiction in the fucking dust and move on, to grow up, become a man and be the husband, son, brother and father that my family has always deserved. Sorry, but I don't get to congratulate myself because I robbed them of myself and of their peace and today I no longer rob them. People who abuse other people shouldn't be recognized and applauded because they stopped.
Isn't stopping just becoming normal again??? Sobriety is just what everybody else already does and it is just assumed as a basic human responsibility. Not being a drug addict isn't something special.
So no, I don't celebrate anniversaries. Addiction and alcoholism should be left where they belong as we continue to run the other way, forward, and begin to amass actual life accomplishments. Fine, get your 24-hour chip and applaud yourself, but then be on your way. The 24-hour chip is really the only one we need anyway, as we are forever one drink away from total destruction again. Get it? We move forward but always remember that our bodies are forever changed. It's just that we don't announce it from the hilltops.