Thirty years ago I began a journey of healing-one that would forever change the outcome of my life. I made a decision to stop drinking and seek help.
Before any problem can be solved it needs to be identified. At the ripe age of twenty-two I succumbed to the fact that I was powerless over alcohol and drugs; of my own will power I could not control my consumption, no matter how hard I tried.
As I began to understand more about alcoholism and addiction, I learned that I have a physical allergy and an obsessive personality. Abstinence was only part of the solution, for my recovery. The real work was in changing the way I viewed myself, the world and those in it. In other words, I had to change my way of thinking.
It may seem hard to believe, but stopping drinking was relatively easy. Staying stopped was the challenge. No matter how many times I tried with good intention to quit on my own will power, it became clear that I had to seek help. For me, sobriety required spiritual help. I had to find and develop a higher power that was bigger than my disease.
It started as a door knob, than like-minded other recovering addicts and alcoholics, eventually I developed a sense of faith that I call God. It works for me, when I work it.
It takes a lot of work and introspection to stay sober. I had to look at the underlying causes of my disease. Like peeling an onion, just when I thought I had made great strides in one area of my new life, I’d discover another area that I needed to work on.
What I didn’t realize then was how difficult it would be to break free of defects of character underlying my addiction. They come in many disguises; fear, pride, ego, and scores of other selfish and self-centered emotions that I used to run from with drugs and alcohol. Early on, my sponsor told me the road would become more narrow, the longer I stayed sober. I didn’t really understand what he meant until I endured the consequences of several more bad decisions that eventually would force me to grow up mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
We all have baggage. We all have stuff that keeps us tied to our past, blocking us from experiencing the full joy of life. We all have chains that bind us.
I question myself all the time. Am I holding onto old ideas, attitudes, thoughts, beliefs that, I should let go of? What is holding me back?
I held onto resentment of my father leaving for most of my life. It drove me to drink.
It took me along time to let go of that anger.
Even after practicing the steps, spending five years in therapy, and making amends with my father, occasionally something would reignite the dormant flame of that buried anger. Sure, I could pause, breathe and practice what I had learned over so many years of recovery, but sometimes I would slip back into self will and snap.
I am human. I make mistakes. We all do.What I have learned though, is that I can change, when I am willing and when I stay spiritually fit.
For me, writing has always helped me process my thoughts and feelings. There’s something cathartic about dumping all the craziness in my mind onto a page as I wrestle with some issue.
Three years ago I decided to write about my journey through and beyond recovery. It was a painful process that required looking back into my past but in the end, was cathartic and liberating. It became my first book ever, and will publish in November:
A Journey of Grace, Love and Forgiveness
In Beyond Recovery, I tackle the anger that held me captive for most of my teenage years and into adulthood. Ultimately I find forgiveness, for myself and toward my father.
This is one of the most vulnerable things I have ever done in my life. I take the reader on a journey through my hippie upbringing in San Francisco to communal living in the San Geronimo Valley and share intimate details of hitting my bottom and the ups and downs of life. In the end it all works out, it almost always does, but sometimes, not exactly as we would expect.
I invite you to add your name to my mailing list to have a first opportunity to get it when it releases next month. shawnlangwell.com/contact
All of this is new to me. I will make more mistakes along the way. I’m okay with that, as long as I fall forward and keep getting back up again.
I invite you to read a piece of my past that few know, and would love to hear from you.
Life and it’s challenges and joys are better when shared; when we know we are not alone.
Here’s a link to my new website, which is work in progress. shawnlangwell.com
Here’s to healing broken lives everywhere.