It’s funny how one decision can give you complete clarity. My dose of perspective came from driving drunk one night almost eight years ago. While texting on my Blackberry, I crashed into another car waiting at a stoplight, injuring two of its passengers.
In the blink of an eye, my life (and the lives of those I hit) changed forever. My actions hurt two innocent people, and made me realize the toll my drinking had had on myself and others.
Of the many lessons I learned that fateful night (and in the subsequent years I spent in prison), these were the five most significant:
- I’m Lucky to Be Alive
Before my car crash, I’d always taken my life for granted. I was unappreciative of all the great things I had going and, instead, focused on all I didn’t have. Resentment and self-pity were my constant companions. Now that I know how lucky I am to be alive, I try to take a minute out of each day and remind myself to practice gratitude.
- I Learned Who My True Friends Were
There’s nothing like going to prison to make you realize who sticks with you and who doesn’t. Some of those who I considered my closest friends I barely heard from during those long four years, while others from my past came out of the woodwork to support me. Hitting rock bottom allowed me to see who were on-the-surface friends and those who genuinely had my best interests at heart.
- I’d Lived Life Selfishly
Back when I was an attorney, my entire life revolved around me. I never thought of others or really, how my actions affected others. Looking back now, I was living a pretty empty life. Now, I make an effort to give back and help others, which makes me feel much more fulfilled than a closet full of expensive clothing.
- I Quit the Self-Pity
Everything about my past life made me feel sorry for myself. I remember thinking I had it so hard, and I could hardly handle the injustice of it all! These constant feelings of self-pity kept me caught in the endless cycle of drinking to numb the painful feelings I felt about my life.
- I Placed My Trust in a Higher Power
Back then, I used to think that God’s sole purpose in my life was to make me miserable. But a different perspective and a life-changing experience changed all that. When I let go and placed my trust in something bigger than myself, I could finally feel a sense of inner peace.
Holding Myself Accountable
These lessons I’ve learned are not to say I’m perfect. I still have to check myself regularly and rely on a support system to hold me accountable. But that’s the beauty of recovery – it’s a lifelong journey, and it’s up to you to keep growing and moving forward.
Additional Reading: 6 Lessons I Learned in Early Recovery
Image Source: iStock