In my first few weeks of sobriety I was a hardened cynic, nothing could rouse me from an attitude of skepticism and self-righteous doubts. While other people told me that there was no such thing as coincidence I pointed out the ‘probability’ that they were wrong. When the presence of a Higher Power failed to strike me with lightning bolts (not something I usually pray for anyway) or other natural phenomenon I took this as evidence that my recovery was not going as planned. The process of getting clean and sober was something I’d pictured as a smooth transition, from rehab to sober living, from sober living to worldwide success as an author, actor, and global celebrity. I even pictured owning my own energy drink brand once I achieved fame and fortune, refining the perfect formula from having tried and compared every alternative during my early recovery. I would create a magical elixir that tasted like a perfectly blended smoothie but had no calories and the caffeine/Taurine content of a Monster four pack. When I went to meetings I would be greeted by hordes of grateful sober people who recognized my grinning face from the obnoxiously large photo of me that graced each one of my best-selling drinks. Were these extravagant notions? I certainly didn’t think so. Yet strangely enough none of these things began to happen for me in my first thirty days, and I began to feel just a little bit resentful. When were the mystical Promises of the program going to come true for me?
After I expressed these growing doubts in a conversation with my sponsor he pointed out a number of errors in my previously airtight plans. He told me that I expected the rewards without really doing the work. He mentioned something about having to change my attitude and actions in order to have different results. At first I was angry and more than a little offended at his suggestion that I just might have been the source of my problems to begin with. The drugs and alcohol were obviously the only issue in my life, and now that they were gone the world should be gratefully basking in the glow of my brilliance. Right!? Right!? At this high point of hysteria I began to realize I, like many alcoholics and addicts before me, had gotten caught in the trap of Ego. I expected to form a new life without doing the core task of honestly evaluating my own thoughts and behaviors. From my cynical attitude to my grandiose fantasies of success without effort I had distanced myself from the real labor required to take the small steps that build up to meaningful change. Something had to give, and my sponsor suggested I might start by seeing the gradual improvements in my daily existence and being grateful for those.
Over the next several days I grudgingly began to note that my life had improved measurably in sobriety. Even though fame and fortune had not been delivered to my doorstep, I at least had a doorstep now and was no longer sleeping outside on a bed made of cardboard boxes. Minor adjustments like this began to transform to my attitude. I saw that I might actually have to begin writing again if I wanted to become a published author and that since I was hesitant to speak more than ten words in public (even in my home group) the acting career would probably have to go on hold. Despite these reductions in my horizons I began to be noticeably more comfortable in recovery and life in general. The focus became on what I could accomplish, and not what I was failing to achieve. The gratitude list in my mind grew larger as I saw the differences accumulate between the old ‘me’ and the new ‘me’ – but I still haven’t entirely dropped the idea of my own energy drink. In fact, if you have any ideas on where a guy can buy Taurine in bulk, let me know – I’m keeping the dream alive!