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Hi, my name is Marc and I am an alcoholic. I have said those words literally thousands of times throughout the years. Although I have been sober for 23 years, I still go to self-help meetings to address my alcoholism. I know they give me the strength and spirituality I need to stay sober. Over the years I have come to learn there are three main components needed to stay sober. They are honesty, motivation and support, but the most vital one needed to get and remain sober is honesty.
For me the motivation to stay sober is simple; I firmly believe that if I drink again, alcohol will either ruin my life or it will take it. For this alcoholic, any consequence less than that would not be enough motivation to keep me sober. It is that powerful of an addiction, and I believe any alcoholic who does not believe that alcohol will end or ruin his life will go back to drinking soon.
The meetings I go to give me plenty of support that I need to stay sober. It helps to be able to listen to others and learn from their experiences. Sometimes I talk as well, and that is vital, but I have learned that my growth comes from valuing others and investing in them. Hearing time and again about how people went out, drank again and ended up yet again being miserable reinforces to me that I will not be the exception.
Now let's talk about honesty. Without it you will not stay sober. Everybody at my meetings has had that moment of clarity where they have admitted to themselves that they are powerless over alcohol. Once you have said it enough times, it becomes rather easy to admit when you are in a safe and comfortable meeting. The problem is that admitting that you are powerless is a very tough thing to do when you are out in the world and life comes at you and all you know how to do is drink. When life is inconvenient, being honest does not come easily. You have to learn to be honest when it is inconvenient. That is the key to sobriety.
Honesty is more than just telling the truth. It is more than just telling the cashier when they gave you back too much change or not stealing from the grocery store. The key to being honest is that you have to be comfortable with the truth. Anyone with an addiction, whether it be alcohol, food, sex, gambling, you name it, has some very uncomfortable truths in their life. I'm talking about hard truths, like being the victim of abuse whether it be physical, sexual or verbal. We have to learn to accept these truths. I recommend talking about this with either a very trusted friend, or if needed, seek professional help.
Then we have to practice emotional honesty. If I am mad at my wife, it does me no good to just yell at her and say, "You did this and that, you made me angry." I have to look at what really is going on with me. I have to be able to say, "You know what, that triggered me, it made me fearful." Once you can identify the real reason you are bothered by somebody, it makes it much less likely you will react in anger.
Practicing rigorous honesty ties everything together. If I am honest, then I will always remember my motivation for sobriety even when it is inconvenient. If I practice rigorous honesty, I will always remember that I need my support system even if the meetings are getting a little stale. And If I practice rigorous honesty, it keeps my relationships with others intact because instead of blaming them for my feelings, I can accept my part in the situation.