I Am Not Anonymous: Lucas’s Story, ‘Seconds and Inches’

Lucas-Text-1024x681(pp_w1000_h665)My name is Luke Mosley, and I am in long-term recovery from alcohol and drugs. By that, I mean that I haven’t found it necessary to pick up a drink, a drug, or any other mind or emotion altering substance since November 10, 2010. And for that I am truly blessed and eternally grateful.

I say “I haven’t found it necessary,” because for the first 27 years of my life, I lived in emotional and spiritual bondage. More than simply having a drug or alcohol problem, I had a problem dealing with life in general.

What seemed to be day-to-day challenges to most other people were crippling burdens to me. Call it social anxiety. Call it restlessness or irritability. Call it being overwhelmed.  Whatever labels my concerned family, friends, teachers, doctors, or therapists applied, they never quite identified that “thing” in me that just felt off.

I found almost by accident at about 13 years old, that alcohol affects me differently than it affects a majority of the population. This abnormal reaction to alcohol and other substances is best likened to an allergy that manifests as a craving for more; regardless of consequence, reason, self-knowledge, the love and support of the people that cared about me the most.

I was trapped in my thoughts and emotions.  Alcohol and drugs freed me from the bondage that my mind kept me in.  They were my solution for release.

I come from a good family. I come from love and support. I was told my entire life that I had potential and something to offer the world.

But despite being afforded all the prerequisites for a happy life, I began to periodically build up life and then tear it down during my youth, and then into my late twenties through my intensifying addiction.  I became an opportunist and a thief.  I was a liar and a con artist.  Everything and everyone became a distant afterthought to the need to get drunk and high.

In those years of my substance abuse, I was in a place of complete hopelessness. I thought I was resigned to a life of destruction and depression. I wished for death as an alternative to my suffering, but feared committing the act.

It was only at that complete spiritual bottom that I surrendered to a new way of life, free of the influence of chemicals.  Before I got sober, I lived in fear. I was afraid of being judged for what I knew I was powerless over changing. I was an alcoholic. I was a junkie. I couldn’t come to terms with my sexuality. I felt trapped by labels.

In sobriety I’ve found that my greatest source of personal strength comes in owning my past and not hiding from the things I once ran from.

Early in recovery, I realized that I needed to be open and honest in all areas of my life. I came out of the closet in the first year and felt a new kind of freedom I didn’t believe to be possible.

I learned that not everyone will understand or accept my life or my past. But like Dr. Seuss said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Instead of trying to change myself and change the world around me, today I work towards growth, change, and acceptance. I’ve been able to apply the principles I’ve learned in recovery to other areas of my life.  At 3 years sober, I decided to address my physical health. Using the discipline I’ve developed in recovery, I’ve been able to lose over 130 lbs, and I’m in the best shape of my life.

Instead of hiding my past from coworkers or new acquaintances, I’m straightforward and transparent about what my life looks like today. I believe that as a direct result, I’m helping to dissolve the stigma that people in recovery are sometimes assigned. When I don’t hide, I don’t create suspicion.

People feel comfortable asking me direct questions that are otherwise left to speculation. “Does it bother you if I have a glass of wine with dinner?”; “Can you attend an event where they serve alcohol?” And while I don’t represent all people in recovery, I do get to share with them my personal truth. As a result, I’m rarely put in a position where I feel out of place or uncomfortable, and neither are they.

From time to time, a new friend will hear of my past and react with disbelief. “There’s no way you were ever that bad, I just can’t picture it.”  That is one of the greatest compliments I can receive, and it’s a true testament to the power of recovery.  I’ve learned to accept myself for exactly what I am.  Through self-awareness, growth and self acceptance, I’m comfortable in my own skin today.

I find hope in my former hopelessness. I see an overwhelming Power for Good in the seconds and inches that changed where my life has headed. It’s been through simple actions, preceded by the complete abstinence from alcohol and drugs that I’ve been able to experience countless incremental shifts in the way that I view the world.  The cumulative effect has completely changed my attitude and outlook on life.

In the time that I’ve been free from alcohol and drugs, I’ve started to learn what makes me happy in life.  My spirituality and recovery come second to nothing.  I try to live by simple principles like honesty and open mindedness.  I know that my spiritual truth can sustain me, and does not have to look like another person’s to be valid.

I ask questions.  I investigate.  I grow by moving toward something I feel drawn to.  Seeking out that connection gives me sanctuary inside an otherwise noisy mind.  I feared never having fun in recovery, but I’ve found that laughter comes easy today as long as I’m not taking myself or anyone else, too seriously.

I no longer fear labels.  I’ve learned to allow myself to be defined in terms of how I show up in the lives of the people I encounter.  No longer am I a drunk, junkie, criminal.  I’m a loving son.  I’m a proud brother.  I’m a valued employee and dependable friend.  I’m a respected man. I experience fulfillment just showing up in those roles the best I can.  I try to put more in than I take out.  Not just in relationships, but in the world in general.

Repairing the collateral damage of my former life has been a gradual process, and it’s sometimes painfully slow.  But with each new milestone, I gain a deeper trust in the path that I walk.  I know it’s all leading me exactly where I can be of use.

Vital for me today is the way in which I’m able to be of service to others, especially to the family and friends that never stopped loving me, and to those still suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction.  It gives me purpose.   I tell my story so that anyone who may be helped can see hope.

There is hope. There is happiness. There is a way out. Just follow someone who knows the path.’

Lucas’s Story is from the I Am Not Anonymous website.