I Loved And Hated New Years Resolutions
I used to love New Years resolutions. They brought the hope and the fantasy of a whole new Brian without any concept of what that meant or how to do it beyond reflexive responses to pain, regret and shame.
I remember making resolutions dating back to college and law school. Study harder. Be more outgoing. Make some friends. Drink less. Get drunk less. Stop binging and purging (I was bulimic). Lose lots of weight (even though I was of normal weight) Each resolution lasted few a few days, maybe a week. Then came the drinking binge. The food binge with the resulting purge. The inevitable “what’s the point.” Anger. Shame. Defeat. Depression.
As the years passed, and I sunk further and further into untreated clinical depression, addiction and problem drinking, my resolutions still came but only adjusted to fit the problems of the day. Snorting less cocaine. Possibly changing drug dealers (yes that was an actual resolution) or switching to Jack Daniels and Diet Coke from Rum and Diet Coke to find the right balance of intoxication that would allow me to feel confident, outgoing while also self-medicating the pain of depression and childhood trauma. Taking cabs instead of driving after my DWI so I could inhale more cocaine and drink and lessen the risk of arrest and killing anyone but myself(that did not last long either).
During my career as a lawyer, (during the time I had one before it fell off a cliff do to drug and alcohol use), I don’t remember once making a resolution to better a better lawyer. Better serve my clients. Take care of myself mentally so that I can better serve my clients.
January 2006 was my last resolution that I would stop drinking so much and stop using cocaine completely. I had met a woman I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Her love would be the difference. You might imagine how that worked out. Addiction is a disease. It takes more than love to deal with it. By June 2006, we were dating and I was trading Dallas Mavericks championship tickets for cocaine. In April 2007, I took my second trip to a psychiatric facility. Once again, Pain Shame. Defeat. Cycles repeating.
When I began my long term recovery from drugs, alcohol and my eating disorder in April 2007, I decided that it was time to do something different. Yearly resolutions clearly were not my path to sobriety and self-love. I began taking my life one day at a time and concentrating on the day I was in rather than projecting far into the future and setting myself up for failure and another cycle of pain and shame and of course addiction relapse
My resolutions transitioned more to daily goals. One day sober. One day without sticking my finger down my throat. At least one meeting in 12-step(Alcoholics Anonymous is the most well known). One session with my therapist. One Lexapro to deal to even out my clinical depression. One day of allowing myself to be vulnerable. Dismantling the brick wall I had built around my feelings decades ago, one brick at a time. One day at a time.
As the years passed my goals built on that base. Doing what I love most which is writing. Blogs, books articles. Sharing my recovery in as many forums as I could. Hopefully hitting the pillow each night having opened up the possibility of recovery to at least one person regardless of what path they ultimately chose.
Today I also have daily affirmations. To do the next right thing and learn from it if it was the wrong thing. To exercise mindfulness in my decisions either in preparation or reflection. That is often done in a hot shower rather than a traditional meditation session. To do at least one thing to take care of myself mentally and physically. Finally, each day, to love myself and allow myself to be loved. Each day, I tell myself, I am enough.
As we begin 2018, whatever your resolutions, goals or affirmations, be sure to love yourself and take care of you every day. Build on that. Take it from me. Playing catch-up sucks.
Brian Cuban (@bcuban) is The Addicted Lawyer. Brian is the author of the Amazon best-selling book, The Addicted Lawyer: Tales Of The Bar, Booze, Blow & Redemption (affiliate link). A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, he somehow made it through as an alcoholic then added cocaine to his résumé as a practicing attorney. He went into recovery April 8, 2007. He left the practice of law and now writes and speaks on recovery topics, not only for the legal profession, but on recovery in general. He can be reached at email@example.com.