How I Got Sober: Floyd

How I Got Sober: Floyd

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People get sober in all sorts of ways. Sometimes they just quit on their own. Sometimes they go to rehab. They show up in 12-step rooms, ashrams, churches and their parents’ basements. There is no one right way—something we’ve aimed to show in our collection of How I Got Sober stories. While we initially published these as either first person essays by our contributors or as interviews with anonymous sober folks, we eventually began to realize that there were other stories to tell: yours. This is our reader spotlight and this, more specifically, is Floyd, who heads up the admissions department at Oceanside Malibu.

When is your sobriety date?

May 11, 2017

Where did you get sober?

I got sober several times; the first time was in New York State. The last time I got sober was in California.

When did you first start drinking?

I started drinking and smoking pot at age 12, which was followed by harder drug use in the years to follow.

How would you describe your life before you quit drinking?

In the beginning years of my drinking and drug use it was an escape and was quite fun, however as it progressed it became a horrible existence each day. I was miserable and worked all day with the goal of simply getting drunk or high all day and night. It had gotten to a point where I had withdrawn from normal daily life and was quite anti-social

What was your childhood like?

I grew up in a single parent home in a middle-class neighborhood. I had four brothers and sisters. Small neighborhood with plenty of parties on the weekends. Some people might have thought my family looked ok from what they presented in public but behind closed doors there was a lot of emotional and physical abuse I endured. Drugs and alcohol allowed me to escape from the memories of the abuse I suffered. I had to leave home at an early age and take care of myself—though the lack of parenting and unconditional love left me ill prepared to face the world and deal with daily life stressors.

Do you remember the first time you thought you might have a problem?

I pretty much knew I had a problem at age 18 or 19 but I hid it well and simply adapted my lifestyle to accommodate my drinking and drug use.

How did you rationalize your drinking?

I rationalized my drinking by saying things like I work hard so I deserve it. Work hard play hard, I’m not hurting anybody, at least I’m not as bad as that guy. I was also proud of never getting fired from a job, however I always quit when I thought or knew I would be fired.

What do you consider your bottom?

I’ve had several bottoms. I’ve lost jobs; lost places to live. Been homeless or living from motel to motel but the sheer feeling of incomprehensible demoralization was finally unbearable at the end. None of my family or friends wanted me around because they did could not bear to see the damage I was doing to myself. Basically, I was resigned to hiding out in my motel room and scraping up enough to pay my rent and get booze, cigarettes and dope for each day.

Did you go to rehab?

I went through a 30-day program followed by AA meetings. My last began on May 11, 2017 and this time I went through a long-term treatment center (six months) in California. It consisted of 30 days residential followed by five months of outpatient treatment while I stayed in a sober living house.

Did anything significant happen while in rehab that is important to your sobriety?

While going through treatment I realized that I had a much better experience by allowing people to help me rather than trying to do everything myself. I also became engaged in the process of my own recovery and made a conscious effort to participate and give back. I realized that I had a lot to give back rather than simply thinking that I was the only one with problems. I began treating others with compassion and trying to help any way that I could.

Did you go to 12-step?

I attended AA meetings regularly and still do. I didn’t like going at first but after I met some cool sober people I continued to attend, and I now enjoy it. Obviously, there are some meetings and people that I do not care for but in those cases I simply go to other meetings. I have found the type of people that I enjoy hanging out with and I have incorporated them into my network. I also attend Smart Recovery on occasion and Refuge for Recovery as well. I keep an open mind since I realize that AA is not the only method of recovery.

Do you have a sobriety mantra?

If anything threatens my sobriety, I’m out of there.

What is the most valuable thing that has happened to you in recovery?

I try to focus on my part of things and pause when agitated. I remember to eat at regular intervals and try to eat healthy. I go to meetings regularly. And when all else fails I try to help another addict or alcoholic.

What is the most valuable thing that has happened to you in recovery?

I learned to be comfortable in my own skin and am now able to live with a freedom from drugs and alcohol. I can go anywhere and do anything without needing a substance to help me through. I am surrounded by people in my life now that love me unconditionally and respect me and all I do to help other addicts.

Have you worked the 12 steps? What is your opinion on them?

I worked a 12-step program and continue to do so to this day. I have benefited from it greatly, but I also realize that other programs and methods work for other people.

If you could offer a newcomer or someone thinking about getting sober any advice, what would it be?

For any newcomer or any person new to recovery, probably the best thing I would recommend is to surrender to the process. There will always be an excuse that seems is more important than getting clean and sober but in reality, if you honestly assess the situation, it is usually the drugs and alcohol that are causing the issues. It is hard to recognize this until you recover and look at it from the other side of the spectrum.

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