Making a Commitment to Rise Above Fear-Based Living and Thrive in a Lifestyle of Recovery - Ian Winer Guest Post

Today’s post is a guest post from Ian Winer. His webpage suggests, “Ian Winer is an investor, philosopher, writer and public speaker who connects people to the truth of market places and human behavior. A regular contributor to CNBC, Fox Business, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Reuters, to name just a few, he is known for seeking connections through non consensus thinking and making it relatable to everyone. Ian has decided to leave his career on Wall Street after 22 years to further explore his theory of “Ubiquitous Relativity” which suggests ways to enhance our connections to others. His first book, "Ubiquitous Relativity," due to be published in the summer of 2019, takes a deep dive into how his theory can improve the lives of everyone.”

I was fooled into believing that my physical and material reality would manifest happiness. 

As a recovering alcoholic and addict, I try to slow my life down to one day at a time.  

Every morning I remind myself of the life I led before I got sober and the life I live today.  Before I got sober, I lived in constant fear.  I was afraid of the truth.  

I was afraid of someone learning about the things I have done.  I was afraid of not being the life of the party.  I was afraid that the people at work would find out my secrets.  I like the expression “fear-based living” to describe this life.  

Yet, even with all of the fear that surrounded me, I always thought I still had options in life.  I worked on Wall Street so money was not my problem. I thought that I could eventually find the right woman to marry and that would force me into a better life.  I thought that once I bought a home, I would clean up my act.  I thought that once I got promoted at work, I would have no choice but to focus and avoid all those bad habits.  I convinced myself I still had options.

That is until I did all of those things, and nothing changed.  I only had to tell more lies to keep the charade going.  

I had to take more drugs to get me through that fear.  I became more and more ashamed of connecting with anyone on a personal level, because I was more and more ashamed of myself.  

I got divorced, I almost saw my house go to foreclosure and I had to move to find a new job.  It was at this point, one night in Santa Monica, when I was coming home at 1am on a weeknight, to have to then get up at 3am to go into work, that I finally realized I was out of options.  

There was nothing I could do to get myself out of this perpetual cycle of fear, drug and alcohol abuse, and shame. 

Fear of stigma, Alcoholics Anonymous, and the unknown

What is the option when one is out of options?  I didn’t know.  But I knew I needed help.  

I decided to go against everything I stood for and admitted I was powerless.  

I was scared out of my mind to go into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.  

What if someone saw me?  What if it is some kind of cult?  What if I had to talk to other people?  But then another thought occurred to me.  

I had concluded I had no options.  What did I have to lose at this point by trying this?  It took everything I had to walk up the stairs into the church where I had found a meeting.  

I had a feeling in my gut like one gets before encountering any fear.  I kept telling myself I have no other option until I found a seat in the back of the room.  That was Mar 23, 2013.  I have not had a drink or a drug since.

You can enjoy your life without using alcohol and other drugs

The most important thing about overcoming my initial fears was to continue to compare it to the fear I had been living with for years.  

I told myself: “Yes, this is terrifying.  But, living the life I had been living was more terrifying.”  I asked myself: 

“How am I ever going to have fun again if I cannot drink or do drugs?”  I kept a few images in my mind, to answer that question, of nights gone very wrong and I could respond: “How are you going to ever have fun again if you are dead?” My perceived difficulty in having any kind of life in sobriety was less scary than what I perceived as sure death if I didn’t get sober.  

Every time I started to think about how terrible sobriety was going to be, I compared it to certain death.  And then, sobriety started to get a little less terrible.   I found myself telling people the truth. I found myself being better at my job.  

I found myself enjoying the day instead of the night.  And with each passing day, sobriety got a little easier.  Whenever I think about my old life, I remind myself of those bad nights. I have gratitude I don’t ever have to live them again.

A leap of faith can come in many forms

A leap of faith is required to conquer almost any fear.  When it comes to getting clean and sober, the leap of faith is that there is a better life out there.  When we are in the depths of our disease we can convince ourselves there is no way out. 

A leap of faith can come in many forms.  For me, it was the belief that, if I stayed sober today, I had an option again.  And, as I had gotten to the point where I was out of options, I needed to believe to convince me sobriety was worth it.  I talked to other people who were sober and asked them if it was worth it. 

I started to hear more and more about stories like mine and how people did find new lives with many more options once they got sober.  I decided that whatever the fears, sobriety was worth facing them.

Even as I approach six years of sobriety, I have fears. 

The difference now is that I have options to confront those fears.  I have people in my life that want the best for me.  I have true friends who I can identify with and rely on.  I can wake up and I have the option of being a decent human being, and that has made all the difference.

John Makohen