May 22nd, 2003….I will remember that day always. On that day, I entered a halfway house to begin treatment for my alcohol dependence. At that point I had a couple of weeks sober and while it felt great to finally start clearing the cobwebs out of my head I was scared out of my mind. A couple of weeks prior I got arrested and spent five days in a psych ward. In my mind I didn’t belong in a place with think plated glass windows and being told when to wake up, eat, shower and sleep but in reality what choice did I have?
I spent years reliving the proverbial lost weekend, spending my hours in darkened smoke-filled wombs framed with buzzing neon signs. I was floating bad checks and using money hustled from family bloated on liquor filling the ever widening sinkhole that was my soul. I had no job and was squatting in an apartment from where I was evicted covered in dust and dirty clothes and dishes. The energy spent hustling and filling holes and lying to keep up appearances left me broken with no respect, no money and alone.
Walking through the doors of a halfway house was hell. I knew that I needed to change—to really change—but I didn’t have a clue of what to do or what was coming. For the first couple of weeks the old voices still had weight in my mind and they were telling me that I could do this on my own—problem for those voices was I wasn’t able to be alone. I was constantly grilled during groups and one-on-ones and around the tables of twelve-step groups and as much as I hated what they had to say I knew deep down they were right.
Instead of fighting and giving everyone that wanted to help the middle finger I began to surrender to the reality that my old ways of thinking and doing were no longer applicable to this new way of life. I started to absorb the wisdom floating around those groups and twelve-step meetings and the wisdom of those old-timers because my sustenance. From the fragile eggshell exterior emerged something new—someone with a thicker skin and wiser to the mechanisms of my soul and the wily ways of the world.
A new word started to be incorporated in the daily vocabulary—courage. Along with courage there was also confidence, empowerment, grace and humility. Before treatment those attributes were nothing more than words I saw in a dictionary and relegated to dusty pages. In recovery, those attributes grew flesh and bones and become part of me. Having courage in recovery meant many things, and it wasn’t based on flying blind in fearlessness.
Have courage was to understand that feelings needed to be expressed and that is was alright to have feelings.
Having courage was realizing that I don’t have to go through life alone, both in times of plenty and in times of need.
Having courage was to be able to tell others I loved them as well as myself.
Having courage was being able to make peace with the past, learning it’s’ sometimes hard lessons and moving forward bruised but wiser.
Having courage meant there were no limits to what I can do because in sobriety options become more plentiful and fruitful.
Having courage meant I can be comfortable in being myself and that I can grow and change and as long as I was authentic and true to myself people will respect that person.
Most of all, having courage is not being afraid of being human.
Tim Powers – bald, tattooed, a business professional by day and rocker by night. Sober by the grace of God since the 8th of May in the year of our Lord 2003. Sharing my stories and myself in order to pay it forward. You can follow me on Twitter @tpowersbass42