Unexpected Happiness

“I was convinced I’d never be happy again,” he said. “I figured I might be able to quit drinking, but I knew I was going to be miserable.” He said this with a twinkle in his eye.

Then he laughed and said, “My life has never been better. It’s amazing.”

We hear this all the time from people in recovery. This fellow lives in Texas, and he continued his story.

“I hated the idea of going to treatment,” he said, “but I really needed to completely detox. In fact, I needed it even more than I thought. It took a good two weeks for my head to clear and my body to come back to normal. Funny thing was, I’d been going to work every day before that—never missed a day. I had no idea how screwed up I was.”

Most people suffering from addiction and mental health problems aren’t able to judge their own situation clearly. They can’t see things clearly because they’re in the grip of an illness. As a defense, they rationalize and blame everyone else for their problems.

“I was ready to divorce my wife and I know she was fed up with me. I hate to think what I put our kids through. They could see what I was doing. My 12-year-old was so mad at me, it kills to think about it.”

“But everything is good now. We aren’t fighting, the kids are doing fine, and I’m back to being my old self again. I don’t have to make up stories about where I’ve been or what I was doing. I don’t have to lie anymore.”

When we spoke, this man had been sober for ten months, and already his life was better. But he had done a lot more than just quit drinking. He had started actively working a recovery program in AA. There were lots of meetings in his area of Texas, and people at the meetings were friendly. After treatment, he had gotten a lot of support, just like doctors and airline pilots get, in similar circumstances. Their jobs have zero tolerance for failure.

He had gotten a sponsor and a home group, and he came early and stayed late. What most people learn when they sober up is they have more free time. Drinking and drugging is expensive, painful and time consuming. Once a person is free of the addiction, spending an hour or so every day on recovery is nothing. The return on investment is priceless.

“I really didn’t think I’d ever be happy again,” he said. “But when I saw my whole extended family in the livingroom to talk to me, well, I knew the jig was up. I was a little onery at the time, but I knew I had to go. I still can’t believe how much it helped me.”

The other big change was his appearance. Instead of looking sickly, he actually glowed. His eyes were smiling, and his skin was clear. Everything about him radiated happiness, and that happiness was contagious. There’s no doubt his wife and kids have caught the bug, too.

Yes, there are problems in life and no shortage of pain. But when we face those problems squarely, instead of trying to avoid them, we discover an unexpected happiness. It takes work, but soon the work becomes joy. Millions of men and women have found the same solution.

This post originally appeared in the Grosse Pointe News.

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