8401 Miracles: 23 Years of Sobriety

Today is my 23rd re-birthday. I have been sober 8,401 days, each one-day-at-a-time. 

 Life is a series of moments. This was a good one with my Honey Bunny.

Life is a series of moments. This was a good one with my Honey Bunny.

Every single one of these days is a miracle. I could be dead right now. Or living in a lower level of hell than I used to.

One of my brothers died from alcoholism. I held him as he drew his last breath at the youthful age of 45. I know where that path leads. It could have been me. 

And it still could. Often I hear about famous (and not famous) people falling off the wagon after being clean for more than two decades. I respect the power the demon of addiction has. 

While I rarely ever think about having a drink, I often think about having a cigarette, which is something I have struggled with on and off over the years. I then use the tools that I have learned along the way. I acknowledge the urge without judging it. I remind myself -- often out loud -- that this is just stinkin’ thinkin’ that does me no good. And then I wait, knowing that the urge will pass. It also helps not having any cigarettes around.

These are the sorts of things that I teach the people I work with. Life is not always easy and we are not usually taught how to deal constructively with the feelings we feel, the desires we have and the stresses in our lives. I learned bury my feelings in booze, because that was what the people around me did when I was a child. I don’t blame them for it. This is all that they knew and it was part of our culture.

Addiction is a trance. A person is consumed by a demon who only wants to consume. It takes a lot of effort to escape this trance. Most people don’t. People are enslaved by the Hungry Ghost — never having enough: not enough booze, not enough drugs, not enough money, not enough stuff, not enough sex, not enough power, not enough ideology, not enough Facebook, not enough TV; the list goes on and on.

We try to heal our tormented souls with these demons. Of course, that doesn’t work. We get caught in the trance. We think we control our own lives, but that is an illusion. 

Yet there are moments when we can see past the trance. These are the moments that our soul cries out and pushes to the surface, often in pain. Take advantage of these moments and seek out help. 

Everyone’s soul needs healing. Your mind and your body also need healing. The demon entered us at a point in our lives when we were weak or distracted. The demon tricked us into thinking that this consumption to satisfy our bodily desires can free us from our inner pain. We confuse being medicated with healing. The pain is still there and it gets only worse.

By trying to not feel our pain, we make the pain worse. One of the weapons against the demon is to not play it’s game anymore. Instead of pushing the pain away, feel it consciously. Breath into it. Cry. Feel it in your body. Know that “this, too, shall pass.”  Nothing is permanent. This pain is an energy and it needs to flow and come out. Eventually, it will stop.

This is why it is so important to get help. Whomever is helping you will guide you along your path of the healing of your mind, your body and your soul. Trying to feel all of this pain all at once, if you are not prepared, may lead you to hurt yourself. We humans are social beings. We are not designed to be alone, especially at times like these.

Know that this is a lifelong process. Our minds, our bodies and our souls need exercise everyday. Everything moves from order to disorder naturally, unless you input energy. Just to keep things the way they are demands energy. And to make changes, you need to input even more energy. This is entropy and it is a law of nature.

Perfection is not the goal here. Being better than your were is. Ask yourself if you are a better person today than you used to be. 

If you have been sober for a long time, great. Good job. But know that you still need to keep working on yourself. That same demon is just waiting there to grab you. And there are still always parts of us that need healing.

If the demon of the Hungry Ghost still has you in his grasp, do what you can to get free. Seek out help. There is someone in your community who can help you. You can also contact me.

The stronger you are mentally, physically and spiritually, the more the Universe will help you. When life is going well, there is a tendency for it to get better.  Of course, gravity kicks in at some point and we fall down somewhere. Pick yourself back up and get back on track.

I know that my life is light-years better than it used to be. I have a beautiful wife whom I love deeply. I live in a wonderful place. I have great friends and family. I do the work I was born to do and appreciate that I am alive every day. Not every day is easy, but I am grateful for each one. And I have the tools and the strength to deal with whatever life throws at me.

I am grateful for the demon of addiction that once controlled me. And for the darkness I had to live through. Because if I had not had these difficulties, I would not have had the opportunity to overcome them and learn what I have learned. I am so much stronger having walked out of Hell. Now, I am in the position to help others.

All of the greatest sages passed through the darkest of places.

I have lived in the dark. And I have lived in the light. I choose to live in the light.

Where do you choose to live?

Paul Crouse

Paul Crouse is a spiritual teacher and advisor, life coach, writer, speaker and photographer based in Kyoto, Japan. He helps people who consciously want to change their lives for the better. He helps people build a strong inner foundation, while helping them to clarify and achieve their goals. He works with people worldwide via video calling or face-to-face in Kyoto. He also leads workshops and seminars, both online and in person, for organizations and companies.