By: Rudy S.
Years after entering sobriety, I strive to live an honest life. I am open about my experience, freely admit my character defects, and keep my bedroom door open. The last point may seem a little weird. Though it may seem an odd thing to do at first, it underlines how I live sober verses how I lived a drunk.
I was a daily-drinking alcoholic. I had a lot to hide—at least 5 to 7 bottles a week to hide. In a month, I could accumulate around 30 to 40 bottles. Bacardi Gold, E&J Brandy, Beefeater Gin, Gallo merlot, and/or Sky Vodka populated my closet. Weekly, I’d migrated bottles to trash bags and into the recycling bin before the garbage was picked up. I did it for years and avoided thinking about what I was doing. I hid the bottles as much from myself as I did from everyone around me.
The simple truth about my alcoholism was that it was a life littered in bottles and lies. I pretended to live a normal life with a normal disposition. I acted like a normal person with normal drinking habits, but I always got myself home in time to drink at least a half a bottle of liquor. The truth was that my life was devoted to drinking and no other horizon was visible to me.
My sudden arrival in sobriety was a shock. It took me a long time towards acceptance and self-examination. It was from self-examination, partly through working the 12 steps with a sponsor and through experiencing life sober, that I began to begin address my defects and shape what I needed to become as sober adult in the world at large.
I started to scrutinize my lack of patience with others and frustration with myself. I began to notice my anxiety with people and crowds. I slowly realized my unconscious desire to isolate and withdraw from people. I began to understand my need to find serenity in what I consume and own.
I also started to become aware of my desire to help others and to be part of something greater than myself. I began to embrace my inclination towards service and commitment. I began to indulge in my love of travel and writing. I began to become involved more in the lives of my family and friends, including those vital relationships in sobriety.
In the program, we talk about taking “a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves” and speak of “a life of rigorous honesty.” I remember when I reached the fourth step; I wasn’t working and still was really new in sobriety. My resentment list was crowded with all the problems I had with other people. When I finished the column where I examined my part in it, I quickly began to see a measure of myself I had never seen before. I noticed my need to control others and my unconscious desire for people to behave in the way I wanted them to. I saw my frustration in having to communicate my needs and wants, instead of them simply being fulfilled. More importantly, I discovered my resentments revolved around my bloated sense of pride and lack of self-esteem.
The value of this inventory was in discovering who I really was in life and preparing a list of character defects that required attention. It was from here that I could begin the work of the sixth and seventh step—the willingness to renounce and remedy these defects along with humble prayer for God’s grace to have them removed. The seventh step prayer speaks of both an appeal to be as one truly is while purifying the elements of one’s character that stands between them and how their life can add value to lives of others:
"My creator, I’m now willing for you to have all of me, both good and bad. I ask that you now remove from me every single defect of character that stands in the way of my usefulness and fellows."
It was from here that I began to build an honest sense of self-esteem: first, by removing the filters by which I saw myself and, second, by refining my character.
I don’t hide bottles anymore. There aren’t any bottles to hide. I spent years hiding bottles and concealing myself. The more I hid, the more I couldn’t recognize myself or the life I was living. When I got sober, I had a lot of hope and ambition towards the future. The world and person I discovered wasn’t always easy to accept. There were many hardships from the time I got sober and onward; however, the ability to experience life honestly has offered me a measure of growth that I have never found in the contents of a liquor bottle. The more years I live sober, the more I find opportunities to be a better person and live a better life. More importantly, there is less for me to hide.