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Old 04-26-2015, 07:42 AM
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I'm here to learn!
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1+ year

Hi Everyone -

i've been a stranger to these forums for a while now -- although know that my thoughts return to all of my friends here often, and I'm often sending good vibes your way.

I just wanted to share that I reached a year of sobriety earlier this month. SR has not been a part of my recovery plan this time around, not because of any particular reason, but just because I felt like doing something different during this stretch of sobriety.

Regardless, when I was active on these forums, I loved to come here to encourage the newcomers, and that's why I'm here today.

I relapsed so many times in the past that I lost count. I didn't think that long-term recovery was even possible for me, and I know that many, if not most, of you all feel similarly to how I felt a little over a year ago. But please take my word for it when I say that long-term, fulfilling recovery and sobriety is possible for anyone -- even the worst drunk.

I wish I had some sage words of wisdom to share with you, some secret I have discovered that helped me, or some advice to offer. Really, I don't. I guess the best I can offer up to you all is that you have to remember that relapse is not the end. Relapse is something that can happen to any of us, I believe. Relapse might even happen to me at some point in the future. But relapse is not the end. If it happens to you, don't think your life is over and you've lost everything. If you fall of the wagon it just means you need to get yourself back on it. Try something different, and don't give up. If you lost your sobriety then it's just a sign that you need to try a different approach.

I had tried every approach before this recent bout of sobriety: leaning on my Christian faith, getting active in AA, psychotherapy, non-12 step based recovery programs. What I learned is that none of these worked for me. We are all different individuals, and that's not to say that one of these programs won't work for you. Far from it! I encourage the newbies to try everything until you find something that sticks. The point is to keep trying until you find that thing.

I can only speak to my own experience, and so I'll share briefly what has helped me achieve a level of serenity and security in my recovery that I never had in my prior bouts of sobriety. What I learned from my time in AA is the old adage "nothing changes if nothing changes". Well, I decided to make some major life changes a year ago to help me get sober: I moved into a new house. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and my past mistakes and chose to forgive myself and move on. Part of that process was allowing old toxic relationships to pass away and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone to establish new, healthy relationships.

I also addressed some underlying psychological issues with a psychiatrist and a therapist (Bipolar and anxiety, namely). I worked on becoming more moderate in everything -- my attitudes (no more black and white thinking), my sleeping habits (no more insomnia or oversleeping), my hobbies (no obsessing over any one thing too long).

I made myself responsible for a new life: a house, a cat, a dog. I focused on my career. I decided to go back to school to complete a long forgotten bachelors degree. Alcoholics are capable of being so productive if you take away the booze.

I also chose to define myself as something else: a non-drinker. I'm not an alcoholic. I was, but I'm not any more. I'm just a person that doesn't drink any longer. I know that thought goes against what many of you practice in your programs, and I don't mean to offend or put down what works for you, I just have to share what worked for me. How you choose to define your recovery is up to you, and what has worked for me might not work for you.

Anyways, this is beginning to get long-winded, and that's not what I intended, so I guess I'll wrap this up with one last thought: "If I can do it then anyone can." If you're in your first days, weeks, or months, you've probably heard that a million times already, to the point where it seems trite, but I don't know any other way to say it. I was the worst kind of drunk - hopeless, helpless, angry, and selfish. Now I am better, and I never thought it was possible. You can do it too.

My best thoughts are always with you all. Stay strong in your recovery.

-Josh
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Old 04-26-2015, 08:13 AM
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Josh - thanks so much for coming back with the words of encouragement. And big congrats on your milestone! I love it when people come back to post their success stories even though they have moved on with their lives. It's quite helpful because if only the people who are struggling post then you get the idea that most people are struggling. Anyways, cheers!
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Old 04-26-2015, 08:46 AM
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Thank you for sharing and a huge congrats!
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Old 04-26-2015, 08:55 AM
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Congrats Josh
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Old 04-26-2015, 09:29 AM
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1 Year is fantastic Josh!!
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Old 04-26-2015, 09:40 AM
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Well done, Josh. That's a brilliant achievement!
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Old 04-26-2015, 09:50 AM
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Big congrats on one year (plus), Josh!

Thanks for sharing your inspirational milestone. It is doable!
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Old 04-26-2015, 01:31 PM
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Thank you for sharing. You really gave me the encouragement I needed today.

Congratulations
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Old 04-26-2015, 01:39 PM
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Great job and thanks for sharing your experience!!

Two things I really agree with and that resonate for me;

Relapse not being the end.... Keep at it!

And not identifying as an alcoholic. While I do say it at AA when I go, and will use the term here and with others in recovery - I find 'non-drinker' much more empowering and appropriate in general.

You've described some very significant changes in describing what worked for you. I bet that your journey - including AA, therapy, relapse.... All of it is what ultimately has worked. We all follow our own unique path to and I'm sobriety.

I'm happy for you. Thanks!
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Old 04-26-2015, 02:05 PM
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Really good to hear from you - congrats Josh

D
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Old 04-26-2015, 02:10 PM
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Well done. That's a super achievement.
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Old 04-26-2015, 05:37 PM
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Congratulations!!! This is a wonderful accomplishment!
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Old 04-26-2015, 05:39 PM
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Thank you for sharing. Congrats!!
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Old 04-26-2015, 05:50 PM
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Congrats on your year of sobriety Josh. And thank you for your message of hope. I am always grateful for these anniversary updates and the sharing of one's recovery experience. Odds are good that the few minutes you took to write your post will help someone is who still struggling, or it will help firm up the resolve of someone with more sober time.
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Old 04-26-2015, 05:55 PM
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Proud of you Josh - very nice to read your encouraging post.
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Old 04-26-2015, 08:47 PM
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Congrats!
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