By Sam Pav
Our past lives in addiction can resemble an old coat. It's familiar, it's warm, and it's ours. We're used to it. Change is uncomfortable. We sew patches over the holes and rips. We cover up the ugliness. We see happy people wearing beautiful coats, and maybe admire from afar, but we know that it's too much work to get used to a new coat. We keep our coat because we aren't willing or ready to let go of it yet. People might try and convince us that it's time to get a new one but we can't imagine life without the old one. The rips and tears just aren't big enough yet to be ready to take it off and leave it behind.
Three weeks into my sobriety journey, I got fired. Although I was on a probationary period, I was not expecting to be let go. As I walked to my car with a cardboard box full of my stuff, fighting back tears, my first thought was to take the pain away instantly. Drugs and alcohol taught me that I didn't have to feel. I could instantly feel better! So why didn't I go right to the bar? By the grace of God, my hands dialed my sponsor's number on my cell phone and I gushed about how I got fired and I'm a piece of shit and the next stop was the bar. What she said to me was life changing. She simply said, "Okay, go do it then." She didn't beg me to stop or get mad that I had these thoughts and feelings. I mean, after all, I was just FIRED! Isn't the bar the first place a disgruntled ex-employee goes? I felt so defeated. I changed my life and got sober, and then this? Don't they realize how great I am? I could've easily used this setback as an excuse to get high. Although I only had three weeks clean, a sliver of me was willing to throw it away to relieve the discontent I was feeling. She gave me the option. She gave me the opportunity to play the tape in my head and make the decision on my own. She made me realize that if I used drugs and alcohol to deal with this, then I would really be unemployable. I would eventually lose my apartment because I can't pay my bills because I don't have a job. She really made me think about how I needed to not only take care of the issue at hand, by NOT drinking, but also looking out for my future self. I had to learn how to trust God that everything was happening for a reason and that I would eventually see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Being unemployed for five weeks was bittersweet. Naturally, I was stressed about not having a job, but it gave me the chance to dive into my recovery. I was hitting at least two meetings a day and seeing my sponsor all the time. I finally realized that losing my job wasn't meant to be a stab at my character, nor was it "their fault". I took responsibility for being a shitty employee. There was something else out there for me, I had to go out and find it. Sometimes, as much as we want to hold onto familiar things, such as a feeling or a job or a person, we must grasp the fact that it may no longer serve us in a positive way, and we need to let them go. It is extremely healthy to do so. This is especially true for relationships. Whether it's friendships or intimate relationships, it's realistic to think we may not need them in our lives forever. We take the lessons they teach us. Sometimes the most important lesson that can be taught is seeing traits in a person that you don't want in a future partner. Or a future job. You learn what kind of rips in the coat you can endure and what you absolutely won't put up with.
Obviously, once in a while, the people who uplift, support, love and cherish you, will come along and it's important to maintain the connection and relationship. Our new coats allow us to see people through a new light. We have emotions today that let people in.....and stay. We have tools to differentiate the things that provide us with value and things that simply provide a lesson. Once the old coat doesn't keep us warm anymore, we are ready to shed it. It might be cold and uncomfortable for a little while without it, but this is the beauty of change. We eventually find a new coat. A coat that fits absolutely perfect, and you wonder where this coat has been all your life and you can't imagine your life without it. It's something you never knew you needed or wanted. Today I am forever thankful that I chose to let go of my coat. It has not been easy, but the beauty of change has brought me such a wonderful coat, that keeps me warm. I don't try to cover up the couple rips today with the patches of drugs and alcohol. They make me who I am. All it took was a little bit of courage, hope and willingness. I'm okay with change. I trust that my higher power knows exactly what He is doing.