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It’s been a hell of a run. Specifically, it’s been four years and twenty-five days and a few hours since my sentence of 50 months was pronounced. As of today, my sentence has expired. The thirty-five days I served in jail after my arrest was added to the total to complete the judgement. I’m free.

I am free to roam about the country or world as I please. I am free to register to vote, and I will. I am free to drink alcohol, and I won’t. I am still not allowed to own a gun, and I don't care.

This is the second time in my life I have completed a sentence while sober. The first time I was put on probation I was 18 years old, and I didn’t get off until I was 26. It was for a one-year sentence. I couldn’t keep it straight back then. Time and time again I tried to find sobriety, but I was too young, and I had not gotten anywhere rock-bottom yet. Actually, I found a series of bottoms that would get deeper over the years, and eventually I found that it was easier to stay down there rather than dig myself out. I managed to scrape together a few years of abstinence where I did eventually end my probation.

This round is different. This sentence has been incredibly challenging in so many ways. Staying sober was just a result of working on the things that were killing me, namely selfishness, resentment, dishonesty, and fear. This round turned into something so much greater than myself, which I used to think could not exist for me. I wrote in a recent post that everything I do, every prayer I pray, and every thought I have these days is dedicated to people other than me, because selfishness is the root of all of my evil. It’s true. This is why I don’t post pictures of myself at the gym or constantly say what a great job I’m doing in life. The only people any of that stuff matters to can see the results of my accomplishments every day when they wake up, or anytime they see me in a condition that benefits society. They can see a man that loves them and works hard for them: not for myself. My reward is love. My incentive is this life I wish I had known was imaginable twenty years ago. It took me four years without a drink or a drug to have everything I need.

Prison is behind me but its lessons are not forgotten. I.S.R. is over and I will never forget the tumult. Now parole is done, and I never want to go through it all again. This much I know: I have built up a solid defense for the first drink. Actually, that’s all I have done for the past three-or-so-years since my release. I maintain my sobriety, and I prepare myself for life when it doesn’t go my way.

My commitment to the commissioner of the Department of Corrections has expired, but I must continue this way of life—one day at a time—or I will fall right back into the grip. I never want to be the man I was when I walked into the courtroom for sentencing, but I won’t have a choice if I give up my effort now.

My life in recovery these days needs a boost. I’m not in danger; it’s just different from St. Paul. My home group in my home town was regularly attended by 100 people trying to get their lives straight. That number went down to about ten when I moved to Delano, and here in Silver Lake this week it was just me and another gentleman. Now, that counts as an official meeting, and I do service work in that meeting, but I like a little more variety so I think I will look for a second weekly venue. Also, none of my sponsees call me anymore. It’s nothing they’ve done, and likely nothing I’ve done other than moving an hour away from everything. This is what I need to find at a bigger meeting. Nothing can so much assure my sobriety as working with other people who are going through what I have been through.

I’m happy, not complacent. I’m motivated, not stagnant. And most important, I’m sober. Here’s to another step in life.

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