By Kevin Sheehan, Special Columnist
This Sunday will mark a special day for me this year (as it does every year). This year will be my 3 year sobriety anniversary. While it may seem pretentious for me to use my column to talk about this, it is very dear to me, and it always makes me think…
Disclaimer: I have no issues with people who drink. In fact, many of my friends I see on a regular basis are people over at Reprise in downtown St. Cloud. But I do have an issue with me drinking. It is my problem, and only mine.
I started when I was a teenager. I quit for a brief period in my early twenties, and picked it up again later. It wasn’t so much as a drink, it was more of a master, and I was it’s slave. It took my life crashing in flames and me examining the wreckage to determine what the real cause of my issues were.
It was escapism. Any addict needs it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re addicted to pills, alcohol, video games, anything. It is the addiction of engaging in something to take your mind away from life and it’s problems. Then a dependency develops, and before you know it, your form of enjoyment becomes the root of your tree of problems.
I have said it before, and I will say it again: I view March 11th as more of my birthday than my actual birthday. It isn’t so much as the day I quit drinking, but more so as the day I started to try to live. Other addictions such as pills took a little more time to quit, but quitting drinking was the catalyst that started it for me.
It’s hard, to give up one of your only companions. The only thing that separated me from alcohol at times was a few dollars, and it was a short separation at that. My life was a cycle of waiting for my next drink, and it was a sh***y life.
But after help from friends who could see the real issue, I finally did something that I had never really done in my life: Believed in myself. It will never be until you realize an issue with your actions that you decide to illicit a change. Likewise, I wasn’t able to stop drinking until I saw that it was ruining my life.
Since I have quit dinking, I have started living life. The best part is (other than saving money) that I actually remember things. I have gone skydiving, I went back (and finished college), I started writing for the newspaper you are currently reading, I released a book, I’ve lost weight…
The list goes on. But what I am most happy with is returning to the person I was before I lost myself. While I love writing with a fierce passion, I lost that zeal when I was using. While I love talking to every person I meet, I wasn’t that way while I was using. So to quit using, it helped me not only clean up my life, but rediscover who I was. For once in my life, I started to actually like myself.
Other things happened as well. I found joy in getting tattoos and riding motorcycles (both are great therapy), and in going to concerts. I started to look outside to the sunlight and realize that life is better when I wasn’t hiding in the shade of addiction.
I pray that I do not seem like I am talking from up on a high horse. In reality, what I want for everyone is what I did for myself. I encourage people to love themselves, and to progress their lives and their passions, and continue being better people. It just so happened that this is how I started doing that myself. So of course I will be emotional when March 11th rolls around every year, because that is the day I decided that life is worth living, and that is the day I started to try.
If you have something that holds you down, take solace in the fact you are not alone. The battle is long, and difficult. But the fight is in you, and you can succeed. Become you- and who you always wanted to be. Will you succeed in everything you set out to do? No. But maybe- just maybe- you might find that the answers you were looking for were inside you the whole time. I still look for some answers occasionally, but after all, I’m only three years in the making.
“Vivus: An Exposition Of A Volatile Mind” by Kevin Sheehan is available in digital and in print on Amazon.com!
Post Script: This weekend is also a big weekend for me. Saturday, March 10th I will be getting married. Lori, I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you. You’re doomed. I love you.