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Getting sober is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve done a lot of things that were hard. I’ve moved across the country and left women I loved. I’ve moved across the country with no idea what I would face when I got there—multiple times. I’ve completed multiple degrees, including a master’s degree. I’ve worked in the world of marketing where everything has to be quantified and qualified and proved to show you’re not totally fucking up what the client is paying for.
None of it compares. Letting go of a girl can be like letting go of the world, but letting go of dope and alcohol was letting go of me.
That’s hard. Letting go of yourself is hard. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that getting sober is easy.
If you’re struggling to get sober right now, maybe the story of how I got sober will help.
I just want you to walk away from this with one thing in mind.
It can be done.
You can do this.
You can get sober.
Getting Sober — The Hardest Summer of My Life
It’s cold outside as I’m writing this. It’s a beautiful contrast to how hot it was the summer I spent getting sober.
It was so hot that night. It was the middle of August in Texas. I remember asking my father for $200 so that I could get high one last time before going to rehab.
He said no.
I convinced the woman who would become my wife to take me to her ATM to pull out a few hundred dollars. We went to at least three different drug dealers. One of them had heroin. One of them had meth. One of them had Xanax. There might have been others. I can’t remember.
“Do you do this every day?” she asked me.
“When I have enough money, yes,” I said.
It was the only way for me to feel okay.
Not to get high.
To get okay.
The next day, they took me to rehab. I don’t remember walking in the door. I don’t remember looking over the paperwork they gave me and crossing off things I didn’t like from their contract. I don’t remember having to leave because I was too fucked up to get sober in a rehab. I don’t remember going to the hospital.
I remember getting into detox though. I had to go to a psych ward because a) I was detoxing way too hard to go straight to rehab and b) I’m pretty much fucking insane.
I have a lot of mental health issues. I take a lot of medication today to keep me from going crazy or hurting the people I love. The medication interferes with my creativity. It dampens me.
But it makes life better. For me, that was part of getting sober—taking my medication again. They started me back on my meds in detox. They put me on suboxone. It was the only way I could get through the heroin withdrawal, but I wasn’t sober on it (you can read more about that here).
Detox was weird. I was sweating my ass off in a tiny room with another man sleeping in a twin bed next to me. Everyone was sick or crazy or both. Everyone was getting sober, and it was painful. We were all in an immense amount of pain.
Detox led to rehab. Rehab was like high school. Everyone’s bodies started working again. Hormones were flying. There was drama and fucking and fights.
When I finally left rehab, the real work of getting sober began.
The 12 Steps
I’m not going to get deep into what the 12 steps are all about. You can read more about that here.
I can tell you that the 12 steps were a crucial part of getting sober. I promise you that I almost didn’t make it through. I had to go from rehab into a sober house. They were hardcore there. They made me work through the 12 steps as fast as I could.
I’m so grateful for that. If it wasn’t for Solutions of North Texas, I don’t think I’d be sober today. I worked with my sponsor that autumn like I’d never worked on anything in my life.
I put more work and more time into getting sober than I put hours into my graduate program. There would be days where I would spend 12 hours working on my 4th step. When I got through that, there would be weeks where all I did, day after day, was drive around the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and meet with people I’d harmed to make amends. I drove to Kansas at least 5 times to deal with my legal issues, and each time I’d spend every day I was there meeting people I’d harmed, making amends, apologizing for what a piece of shit I’d been. There were days when I would go to Valley Hope, the rehab I went to, for hours at a time to help other guys work through the 12 steps, sometimes 4 or 5 hours. I would do that every day for a week sometimes.
It was a lot of fucking work.
It was worth it.
Today I have a life worth living. Before, I didn’t have a life at all.
If you’re trying to get sober, know this—it will be hard. It will take more work than anything you’ve ever done before.
And it will make your life better than it’s ever been before.
You’re worth it.