Ending My Run From Reality: How I Got Sober

Ending My Run From Reality: How I Got Sober

By Dustin Dillow 12/24/15

I believe alcoholism is a disease and can also be used as an excuse in an alcoholic's undying search for that next drink. 

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Upon living through everything I have in my life—war, broken relationships, a failed marriage, depression, homelessness—I had given myself an excuse to become something I am not. I was a bad husband, an absent father, a manipulative son and a distant brother.

I had become so consumed with my own self-hatred and bent on self-destruction that I couldn't have cared less who got in my way. I knew what I was becoming, and I hated myself even more for it. I had let every excuse manipulate and justify my actions, because I deserved to be able to do what I wanted...I earned it. 

How very wrong I was, I am reluctant to ever say, only because I know I will forever be putting pieces back together for all the damage I have caused in my life, as well as to those around me.

I have no excuses anymore. I have accepted the fact that as hard, and sometimes easy, as it may be to say it, I am an alcoholic. I blamed it on the war, my failed marriage, nagging parents, you name it. There is no one to blame, but that of which I see every day in the mirror. I did it. No one forced it upon me. In AA they teach you that alcoholism is a disease. Which I believe, but I also believe it's another excuse to be used in an alcoholic's undying search for that next drink. “I have a disease don't you know!"

I have been selfish in the past for all the wrong reasons, and now in my never-ending quest for sobriety and clarity, I am being selfish for right reasons. Doesn't make sense does it? I know it didn't to me either.

I've never wanted to die. But I tried to kill myself...twice.

Let that sink in a bit.

The ultimate achievement for a selfish person.

I never succeeded in my endeavor because of my previous statement. I never really wanted to die, except for when I was so out-of-control and couldn’t stop drinking that it seemed like a better alternative to living. This is where that first step comes in to play, you will never stop or ever want to stop until you truly want to admit that your life has become unmanageable and that you are truly powerless over alcohol. Some people can never fully admit this.

I was afraid to live. This wasn't the life I wanted and things weren't going the way I planned—excuses to keep drinking. I went to rehab and got sober but my sobriety was the biggest lie of them all. I said I had been sober in order to look good for other people and so people would leave me alone. When in reality, I was a bold-faced liar. Even though I wasn’t drinking, I wasn’t sober. That didn’t last too long and I began to drink again, but I still told people I was sober. I was so consumed with hiding the fact that I was drinking that I lost sight of reality. This is where I believe that disease part comes in, it'll sneak up on you, whisper in your ear and make you believe you can handle it, and before you know it, it has you. But it had me all along, I wanted help to stop but I did it for all of the wrong reasons, and none of those reasons were for me.

Why does it take something catastrophic or life-altering in order to appreciate how precious this short moment is? We die a little every day. It is a fact that there will be no tomorrow for some of us, and some might miss these opportunities we have right now.

Question everything. Living in a nightmare of shattered shapes and bizarre sensations followed by inescapable panic, cold sweat and a racing heart is how we have grown used to living. I awoke from this nightmare to find out it wasn't a dream, but my life.

I was desperate for change.

I had realized that things in my life had been causing me great distress, although I was conscious I was unaware. I realized that I am the cause of my own distress and I am the only one who can cause it to end.

Being able to acknowledge this is always easier said than done, but these things I need to ask myself daily.

The one thing I do know though, no matter what people say, no one truly knows how hard it is. To be so completely honest with yourself and everyone else that the lies just melt away and truth becomes reality. Sometimes people cannot handle the truth and are happy with that false reality. They will never succeed in staying sober.

Everyone is different. I have been told other people's truths. I've never been able to accept anyone else’s version of the truth and I don't think anyone else should. If the meaning of life, the road to living a sober life, the universe and all of its mysteries were all written down in a few simple words for everyone to follow and agree upon, it would be just that easy. But it's not. People may argue that they have been written down in certain ways in the Bible, the AA Big Book, etc. But that is still someone else's truth...not yours. Can those tools help you? Yes, of course they can, but only if you do it for yourself. You need to follow your own path to enlightenment, by whichever way you choose. But you must be the one to choose, no one else.

That’s the thing about getting sober. People may tell you they are proud of you, that they are happy for you or that you are an inspiration to others. None of that matters. It is nice, but it won’t keep you sober. Only you can do that. I hope that I can inspire others, but at the end of the day the only inspiration you need is you.

So in conclusion...even if you run and run and run forever, you can't possibly escape reality. You can fervently deny the existence of an ultimate truth or of God, but reality is always right there staring you in the face. And you can search for enlightenment but you will always only ever find reality.

This is my reality. This is the only order I can rely on in the chaos of addiction because I know I am flawed. I am not perfect. There's no such thing as perfection, only reality. But I know I am loved, I love and I have learned to accept. I've accepted my reality. This is my life. This is my truth. I can't accept anything less than that. Life really is too short. I choose this life. This is living. One single day at a time. Smile, because why not? Be happy, for it takes more effort to be angry. Live, but really live. Be everything, or be nothing. But be.

Dustin Dillow was a professional chef for 12 years, changed careers and is now an intake coordinator/house manager at a sober living facility based in Chicago, IL. He enjoys spending time with his three children, writing his blog and coaching youth sports. He is currently pursuing his degree in addiction studies to become an addictions counselor. You can check out more of his work on his Facebook page and www.knowhopenow.wordpress.com

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Dustin Dillow was a professional chef for 12 years, changed careers and is now an intake coordinator/house manager at a sober living facility based in Chicago, IL. He enjoys spending time with his three children, writing his blog and coaching youth sports. He is currently pursuing his degree in addiction studies to become an addictions counselor. You can check out more of his work on his Facebook page and on Twitter or Linkedin.

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