I never really saw the need to change anything all those months I sat alone and unemployed in my darkened, dirty apartment drinking cheap red wine and watching lame daytime TV. After all I was a pretty good guy who at one time was winning the game of life and would do so again as soon as I could find another big paying job. Except for the fact that I was running out of borrowed money and could not find the energy to even send out a resume. Denial was so strong that I didn't really believe there was anything wrong with me that a new job couldn't fix, so why would I want to change?
What I wanted was my life to be fixed, not changed. I wanted more energy and enthusiasm. I wanted my old "can do" attitude to return. I wanted the secret to a happy fulfulling life. Almost weekly I would head to the bookstore to the self help section and carefully select a new solution for my life. I liked to read and think about the ideas in these books, but since I didn't have the courage to actually DO anything differently, I stayed stuck in my dirty easy chair with my bottle of wine, overflowing ashtray and a week's worth of empy fast food bags and pizza boxes strewn on the carpet at my feet. The dull ache of fear grew daily.
God works is mysterious ways. One of these books was about men experiencing mid-life crises. This book sent me to a therapist who made it clear that my symptoms -- low grade depression, feelings of uselessness, and worry about the future -- were more due to alcoholism than any mid-life crisis. At her suggestion three days later I entered an outpatient treatment program. Three days after that I walked into my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have been changing ever since.
It's only when I look backwards to where I was can I see how far I've traveled. I have moved from a life of materialism toward a life of simplicity; from a desire to achieve success to a desire to connect with others; and from jealousy of what you have to certain gratitude for my gifts. I haven't reached the end of any of these roads, but I'm making progress. Practically no area of my life looks the same as it did fourteen years ago. Consequently I'm happier than I've ever been.
It takes courage to walk the path we are on. It's not been easy for me to leave the comfort zone and challenge self-destructive habits after so many years of living in the insanity. It takes guts to honestly share with others what's going on with me and to walk through fear when the voices say "run away." Without courage I can't move forward with my life.
It helps me to remember that this courage doesn't come from me. It comes from my Higher Power in the form of grace. Courage is always available to me as long as I am sincerely willing to seek it.