The Sobriety Effect
By: Mark Goodson
“Daddy, I want some waaaater.”
Oh the toddler twang. Those vowels lengthen in their whiny demands. I go to the kitchen and fill up a glass for him.
He raises the glass to his lips, tilting it prematurely to let water pour all over his shirt.
“Daddy! You did it! It’s tooooooo full.”
Of course, the program comes to mind. Of course, I think he needs to learn to own up to the things he does. Of course, like a good alcoholic, my mind races to the extreme. My son must learn to take responsibility for his actions or he will develop the same spiritual malady as his old man. I think about all this before I say:
“Try again, pal. And if it’s too full for you, just ask me to pour some out next time.”
There is no separating my sobriety from any part of my life. I am sober in all my affairs. My son has never seen me take a drink, neither has my wife. So, how could they possibly know the amount of work that is required to stay sober. To be the man my wife married, and the daddy my children have come to know requires daily maintenance.
How often have I had one foot out the door to catch a meeting when my son asks, “Where are you going daddy?”
“I’m going to a meeting son.”
“What’s that daddy?”
How could I explain it? How could I tell him that Daddy has to leave in order to be present. His toddler mind can’t grasp concepts, let alone that difficult paradox. How do I tell him that the only way for me to be the man he knows is to go get help?
No matter how I explain it, I have to leave. I have to make meetings. I leave him with questions. I leave my wife in frustration—another bedtime without my help.
I can’t forget my priorities. I am not a father. I am a sober father. I am not a teacher, I am a sober teacher first. It is my epithet. And whether I like the moniker or not won’t ever change the fact that I need it. Here’s why.
This is an exercise my sponsor had me do one day. I invite you to do the same.
Write down your top 3 priorities in life.
Yours may read a bit like mine:
3)Health (mental and physical)
If my recovery isn’t placed before all of these, I will lose them. I will lose my family; I will lose my work; I will most obviously lose both my mental and physical health. My priorities must be more of a causation flow chart. With sobriety the cause of all other priorities
Or, a better image may be the following word jumble.
Sobriety needs to be in the forefront of my life. And there is nothing my son, daughter, or wife can say or do to change that. There is nothing I can tell myself to change it. If I take away the thing that causes all the others, I lose all the others.
It’s similar to the butterfly effect. The notion that a change in a system causes the entire system to change. One drink in my system would swing through all areas of my life like a wrecking ball through brick.
If I keep my priorities in line, I can stay sober for one more day—be a father, teacher, husband, writer—be a man for one more day.
The Miracle of the Mundane: www.markgoodson.com