Long Term SOBRIETY
We asked these three individuals who recently celebrated clean and sober milestones, what their lives are like as members of long term sobriety.
“Turning 19 years sober is mind boggling. I don’t know quite how I’ve done it, other than to have realized that I had no idea how to live life. Things were getting very dangerous. I had to learn to listen to other sober people once I learned to trust them. I used to be very panic-driven. I was very selfish. It involved the hustle. I felt that I needed to take anything I could possibly take, from anyone who crossed my path or I’d end up with nothing. And of course, I ended up with nothing, anyway (laughs). I didn’t understand what was going on. Today is a lot calmer. It is more rewarding. Now I’m not so concerned about survival. Now I look at how I’m behaving. Am I giving back to my community? Am I a productive member? I look at what I can do for the people around me instead of taking. I reap greater benefits from not thinking about myself and helping other people instead. It’s organic. Things come to me naturally.”
—Sondra Martin, sober since May 20, 2000.
“There is an extreme amount of gratitude, when I stop to think about where I was in my life 33 years ago. They say sobriety gives you a life beyond your wildest dreams, but when you lived your life without feeling things, and then you start to feel, that’s the part that’s really different and unique. That’s what I think about. I love having the feelings of what it’s like to be celebrating 33 years. That’s been extraordinary for me. 33 years ago, I felt so lost and unsure about where I was going to go in my life. I didn’t know what the next step would be. Today I basically surrender everyday, all day, throughout the day. It is amazing how my life ends up becoming everything I want it to be.”
—RJ Holguin, sober since May 15, 1986
“I can’t become 37 years sober without understanding that I’m a man of a certain vintage. You can’t get to 37 without also being a mature adult. I feel great. I feel blessed. I feel like I’m still on the journey. I feel like there is more journey left. I don’t feel like I arrived anywhere, let’s put it that way. 37 years ago, I had totaled five cars; I wrecked two motorcycles; I had been arrested three times; I had six failures to appear in five different counties; My drivers license had been taken away. My life was very messy. My life now is so simple. I’m in a 28-year relationship. I have bountiful friends. I cherish my recovery. I never have to be nervous when I see flashing red lights or I hear a siren. Life is great.”
—Ritch Colbert, sober since May 16, 1982.
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