And I am grateful.

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I am a survivor of Bipolar Disorder, Alcoholism, and Porn Addiction. With the omnipresence of the omnipotent Higher Power of my understanding, I harmed many others, waged many battles, and very nearly destroyed myself.

And to prove it, my soul, and parts of my body, are richly textured with scars -deeply carved fissures and chelations mimicking the domes, craters, and volcanic rilles of the lunar surface. When I was young, I envied the battle scarred veterans of trials and tribulations. Now I am one of them.

Nearly running and starving myself to death, a near death experience involving falling into a vat full of super hot, extremely caustic chemicals, four divorces, running up $200,000 in credit card debt, a 15 year estrangement from 2 of my 3 children, 3 psychiatric hospitalizations in the 90’s, becoming involved in extreme political activism that resulted in FBI investigation and arrest, severe underemployment for years, a year plus working with toxic chemicals and heavy machined parts at a hot, dirty, dangerous, extremely strenuous job in a metal plating facility, surviving a toxic family of origin, and somehow staying functional in society with a serious mental illness and dual addictions. Those were my trials by fire.

Life did say to me, “You’re going to be happy. But first I’ll make you strong.” And life spoke the truth.

Tenacity, resilience, a good intellect, a lot of really compassionate people whom I met along the way, amazing recovery and self-care skills that I was taught, and the Higher Power of my understanding got me to the age of 52, sane, sober, stable, and at last, thriving!

An eclectic, “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to staying stable and sober, as I have for over 10 years now, has been a reliable recipe for me.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, work with Attachment Theory, the Steps and Fellowship of AA, medication, Exposure Therapy, prayer, mindfulness, exercise, spiritual/recovery reading, self care, healthy sleep and diet, deep and meaningful relationships with others, and being of service coalesce to form the backbone of my being.

Today I am grateful that life grabbed the heaviest, most formidable sledge hammer it could find and battered this egotistical, grandiose, self-absorbed Addict with Bipolar Disorder so hard that he had to discover the true meaning of the phrase, “surrender to win.”

Life pummeled me hard enough to “surrender the things I cannot change” and blessed me with the “strength to change the things I can.”

That’s more than happiness. That’s joy.

And I am grateful.

JM

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