Today marks 365 days of sobriety for our friend and client, Jason Tichenor. Please join me in congratulating Jason on this incredible milestone and show your support as he continues his journey! Jason and I discussed the ups and downs of this past year and his story is below:
Q: A lot has happened during the last year of your life. Tell me about how you started August 2018 vs how you started August 2019.
A: Last year, I began August living outside of my body, as my addiction made me a slave to drinking. Every day was planned around my consumption, and a lot of time was spent, either trying to piece together the events from the previous day, or making amends for the mistakes I made while intoxicated. It was a cyclical existence that was spiraling ever-downward and I was aware that I was out of control. This year, however, for the first time in over five years, I began August with the strength and clarity of almost one year of sobriety under my belt and I am making decisions more consistent with my current and future happiness. I am actually living my life, instead of simply existing.
Q: What made you decide to finally seek help?
A: I did not have a textbook “rock bottom” moment, per-say. I was high functioning, and most people did not know that I had a problem. Deep down, though, I knew I was on an unsustainable path. Relationships were almost impossible and my work was beginning to suffer. However, it was witnessing my family’s pain surrounding my behavior and their genuine worry for my life that finally made me realize that a change was necessary and that it was up to me to make the decision to change, if I was going to survive.
Q: What has been the hardest aspect of your journey thus far?
A: The most difficult aspect of this journey has been having to redefine who I am as a person. It’s like having to emancipate from part of your-self while remaining in the same skin. I’m not the same person I was a year ago. So the challenge has been deciding who I am going to be while letting go of who I was. This also means letting go of other people as well.
Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect thus far?
A: The benefits are innumerable. But, if I had to choose what I am most rewarded by, it would be rediscovering how much I am capable of, in every avenue of my life. I half-assed my way through the world for so long, drunk and dumbed-down. These days, I constantly surprise myself with how much I can accomplish in a day; untethered to substance. The sky is truly the limit now!
Q: When you are not working, where do you focus your energy? What activities or hobbies do you enjoy most and why?
A: Yoga and personal training have been where most of my energy goes when I’m not working. Physical activity always makes me feel better and the challenge of taking my fitness to the next level keeps me sharp. Plus, I figure it’s better to feed vanity than addiction. I also travel whenever I can get away!
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with substance abuse?
A: My advice to anyone who may be struggling with substance abuse is simply this: DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOURSELF!! You are one-of-a-kind on this planet, and you are special. Don’t deny the world, or yourself the opportunity to experience your full potential. There WAS a time when you were happy without the substance and there IS more where that came from if you choose YOU. Think of it this way: You can have your substance (and all the BS that comes with it) OR you can have EVERYTHING ELSE. It’s up to you!
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is trying to help a friend or loved one that is battling substance abuse?
A: For those of you who fear for someone you care about, know this: No one is capable of being helped until they want to be. The best thing you can do is stand in a place of love and support with healthy boundaries to protect yourself until that time. Yes, you may feel powerless, but forcing change on someone gets you nowhere. Patience is the key!
Q: You are a remarkable human being. We could not be more proud of you. Thanks for sharing your story with everyone. Anything else you want to add?
A: I am deeply grateful for the second chance I’ve been given. And if I can inspire one person to do the same for themselves, then it was worth every moment of the struggle. Every day in every way, I am better and better!