And I lived that way until I got clean and sober. But once I admitted I had a problem with substances, life slowed way down.
Once my mind became clear and I started getting my health back I realized that I'd found what I was looking for. The things that I'd been looking for all of my life: peace of mind, serenity, happiness, revealed themselves. They were within me.
This realization came over me during my first year of recovery, back in 1991. I remember I was riding my bicycle on Center Street in Mesa on the way to my job. The sun was shining. It was still spring, so it wasn't too hot. I had less than $10 in my pocket. I was wearing clothing that I'd purchased at a secondhand store. And my home was a small room in a halfway house, where I paid $85 a week for a place to live and two meals a day.
Even though I owned nothing but a used bicycle and a few second-hand clothes I was happier than I'd been in years. And as I thought about it I realized that I was happy because it was the first time since I was a teenager that I didn't have warrants, was off parole, wasn't full of drugs and alcohol and didn't have anyone looking for me.
And I recognized that the state of mind I was in was because, for the first time in my adult life, I was no longer a slave to heroin or alcohol. I was living by the principles of the twelve-step programs and I'd been set free. I no longer had to look outside of myself for happiness because I realized that I could be as happy as I chose to be.
Did that epiphany in 1991 mean that I had no more problems in my life? Of course not. What it did mean is that I shifted my focus from looking at external things as being the source of my problems. I realized that I was the author of my own misery and that I had created a lot of it during my life.
The twelve-step programs opened a new dimension for me where I stepped across the threshold of responsibility. While many traumatic things happened to me as I was growing up I was now able to go beyond them and become responsible for my own behavior. I no longer let them serve as excuses for me to destroy my life.
And I no longer am in a hurry because I have what I want right now: the peace and serenity that comes from living a life of recovery.
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