My name is Marc Lee Shannon. I’m a father, songwriter, business development analyst and chronicler of this sober life that I have led since November 2014. This monthly journal, Sober Chronicles, will hopefully serve to record the day-in, day-out thinking and living that is my journey.
My goal is to speak softly to those who may be curious. Maybe you wonder what it’s like to be sober. Maybe you wonder what it really means to live day in and out chemically free. Maybe you just wonder why anyone would care to talk about this. Maybe you just wonder…
For now, I’ll spare you the heartbreaking to humorous details of my life before I got sober. But believe me, I’m qualified. I am an alcoholic and addict. The real deal. The authentic author of my book of regrets.
There have been three touchstones in my so-far successful life living substance-free. They are:
Don’t drink or use. Every day, my goal is simply to do what is needed to live in my unaltered state for 24 hours. For me that means total abstinence. I tried the weed therapy. It doesn’t work. I tried the “I’ll just drink on Fridays and not Saturdays – I won’t hang out with that guy anymore – light liquor burns cleaner – I won’t go to that bar – she’s the problem, not me” excuses. They don’t work. I can no longer have a drink. Not one. All the fun is gone and I know it.
Find the badasses. When I was a young guitar player, I wanted to hang out with the badass cats that could really play. I wanted to know everything that they knew about guitars, amps, gigs, techniques, tricks, everything. Sobriety is the same damn thing. Find a tribe. Hang with other sober people, whether it’s in a traditional 12-step program, a church group, online, a group of friends you meet on Fridays at a coffee shop, whatever. I had to learn to say the three magic words to make this happen: “Please help me.” Once I did that, happiness started creeping into my life. Marquee bright light, big neon letters: Hang with the badasses. It works.
Pay it forward. There is nothing more meaningful living a sober life than being able to connect with another chemically dependent person and have them know that you get it. You have been there. They can see in your eyes that you have been imprisoned in the same dark room, searching for the door. You have suffered the same shame and hopelessness. I hope Sober Chronicles can do something like this. Maybe one person will see themselves and say, “it’s time.” If you have a suspicion that drinking or using has taken you off the highway and onto the back roads, sometimes the only person who really gets it is another person who has been there. I hope that by sharing my story, someone else may see that they are not alone and take that first step of faith into recovery.
I am grateful to The Devil Strip for the meetings and discussions that have brought me to this chance to have a voice. I needed to know that they would really want to lean in and not do a drive-by on the addiction epidemic in our community, and they are the real deal. Yay.
If you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com. You can also check out my music and other nonsense on my website: marcleeshannon.com. Your comments will always be appreciated when delivered with kindness or compassion to those suffering from this medical, mental and social issue. There is so much that is needed, so much work to do.
Lastly, people ask me all the time, “what can I do to help my brother, cousin, sister’s friend, coworker, etc., who is suffering from this illness?” Go sit with them. Tell them that you care about what they are going through and that they are not alone. Isolation and loneliness are the burdens that every alcoholic/addict carries in their front pocket. Ease their shame with a hug.
Marc Lee Shannon is a musician in recovery. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Angelo Merendino. Used with permission from Marc Lee Shannon. Editor’s note: Marc Lee Shannon holds the trademark to “Sober Chronicles.”