courage to surrenderLeaving my hometown for college was a dive from all I’d known into a sea of unfamiliarity. Gone were the sports I loved that kept me healthy, my friends who taught me about life via fun and games, and the experiences only found in a small town. I also left a home that I later discovered was dysfunctional.

Although I earned AA and BS degrees, college life showed me a freedom I didn’t manage well. My freedom changed me.

I married my college sweetheart the week after graduation, which was a month before the Woodstock music festival and three months before our “love child” was born.

Full of ambition, I changed IT jobs every few years, staying on the “fast track – high potential” lists from start-up companies to mega-corporations. We started poor but built an American Dream in a few short years. On the outside, we had it all, on the inside I was dying.

Drugs and alcohol finally brought me down after decades of hard-partying. In spring 1982, I returned from a long assignment in Singapore, where I stayed clean and sober. I could be myself and loved it.

I moved my family out of suburbia to clean up our lives. While I attended A.A., my wife slid into the world of IV drug use. We helped her fight her demons, but that lifestyle claimed her. She chose life in a drug den several miles from us. We were in pain.

My single parenting skills were inadequate, but the extra effort by each of us proved enough to get the kids’ college degrees. Much of this story is about recovery from lost love, dreams of a better life, and my struggles to conquer my addictions. The evidence shows sobriety is a way of life – not an event.

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The Courage to Surrender : John W

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