Mark is someone I met via cyber space in the amazing online recovery community. He has one of the top blogs, the Miracle of the Mundane, where his poetry, essays and creative non-fiction are showcased. In his own words, he speaks about his relationships in recovery:
My relationship with drugs and alcohol resembled that of a hostage and his terrorist. Addiction told me what to do with the same physical persuasion of having a gun to my head. I wish I were exaggerating, but reflecting on the insanity of my habit from the vantage point of nine years clean and sober reveals that I cannot control my thoughts or actions when under the influence of alcohol, powder, pills, hallucinogenic or medicinal herbs, or any other substance that gives me the power to change my mood.
Today, my relationship with alcohol, powder, and pills is not physically existent. Although, like pen pals from a former life, I return to them in reflection and ask them to remind me what life was like when we were together. But, I only communicate with them to the extent that I don’t have to invite them over to visit.
When drinking and using—in the pit of my addiction—I didn’t truly know any other relationship. I put my addiction ahead of all else. You tend to do this when a terrorist has a gun to your head. This caused me to isolate from the people closest to me in order to keep what fueled my addiction closer.
Sober today, I put my recovery as first priority. As a result, my relationships take top priority. It’s a bizarre paradox whereby if I put my recovery as first priority, everyone will get the most out of me. If I try and make other people my top priority, I could lose my recovery, and then I’d lose those relationships. I’m married six years. I have two beautiful children. I have worked at the same high school as a teacher for eight years. My relationships don’t shift around anymore. I don’t run from them or hide from them. I show up for my recovery in order to show up to the people in my life. And find myself continually renewing the phrase: “I’ve never been happier.”
Romantic relationships while drunk and high were obsessions mainly. I had this pattern of behavior where I went after women like a hunter. Like they were prey. That’s the best way I can describe it. The next best way I can describe it is that women were trophies to me, or notches on the belt. Once we had sex, the prize was won, and I began to find ways out of the relationship as quickly as possible. It was part of the over-arching selfishness of an active drug addiction, I think.
I refrained from any romantic relationship in my first year sober. I met my wife in my second year, and married her in my third. Our son was born in my fourth year sober, and my daughter in my seventh. And I started a blog in my eight because I couldn’t keep the joy to myself anymore.
Being sober has changed my relationship to myself. I love myself. I feel self-esteem. I feel deserving. Because I am able to love myself, I have learned how to love others. Gradually, I have learned to love others—my wife and kids—more than anything else in the world, myself included.
I’ve had great friends throughout my life. Even my drinking and using buddies always wanted the best for me. The problem was I never wanted the best for myself. Now that I understand what it means to want and do the best for myself, I am able to bring value to my friendships.
People in recovery—mentors, friends, counsellors—taught me to be a supportive and caring friend.
Pets weren’t a big part of my recovery early on. We adopted our dog—a Shephard mix named Riley—about four years ago. She’s a total pain the ass, and we love her. She barks at everyone, attacks people, particularly women and children, and causes the mail to be set at our steps rather than put in our mailbox. But, Riley is great with the kids, and a good dog as long as we keep her away from everyone else.
I am a contributing member to society today. And that feels great. I provide a service to the community in my role as a teacher. I can be counted on. People expect me to be of service and I offer service willingly. It really feels good to give a shit. And it feels even better to be a contributing member of society.
Mark David Goodson is in his 9th year of continuous sobriety. His writer’s website celebrates the simple joys of sober life. He also raves, rants, and reflects on life as a husband, father, and teacher. A poet until he ran out of money, he now teaches English, and raises two children with his wife.
Facebook: Mark Goodson