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I’m Sober Now. Let’s Get To It!

Changing Everything May Take a Little While

Photo by Ryan Millier: on Pexels

“You don’t have to be productive to be non-destructive.”

- my Nutritionist Carolyn -


Like many alcoholics, when the reality of my condition hit home, I was freaked out by how much time I’d wasted during my drinking/drugging years.

I’d been fired from yet another bartending job, and I suddenly realized that I wouldn’t be seeking work in a bar anymore. I didn’t know what to do regarding work, and I had no savings.

I felt like I had to make up for lost time, that I was in a race to get my life together and accomplish…things! I had Things I had to do!!!

It turned out that what I really needed to do was to learn to live without a drink, one day at a time.


In my early sobriety days, I had mood swings like I’d never experienced before.

I’d used drugs and alcohol to even out my moods, or to supersede moods and feelings with drunkenness.

Going through withdrawal, I was raw. Often, I was irritable. And I surely was scared about the future, unsure of my footing, and only beginning to learn about how deep a hole I’d dug myself into.

I also had days where I felt hopeful, I was in touch with how fortunate I was to be on a new path, and I felt a new commitment to the work I wanted to do as an actor.


I’ve been very close with my two sisters, and still am to this day. When I stopped drinking, there were adjustments to be made. It wasn’t all smooth sailing.

My older sister told me later on that she found me difficult during my early sober days. I’m quite sure I could be unlikeable as I was shedding the old skin with one foot in the past and one foot in the new world. I get it.

My younger sister was, I think, baffled by my seemingly directionless new life. But then she had a realization. As I was jobless and bouncing from apartment to apartment, she wondered “What is he doing?” Then, it occurred to her that what I was doing was getting sober. And that was more than enough.

I felt supported by them, which was key to my recovery. We’ve always wanted the best for each other.


“You don’t have to be productive to be non-destructive.”

I wish I’d known this phrase back then. I had a huge struggle to be compassionate with myself. I beat myself up endlessly.

I had wasted time. I missed opportunities, and I’d warped my thinking.

As an actor, I’d done some exceptional work. Certainly not everything, but enough to know that I had a lot to offer.

I didn’t know how to build a career, build creative relationships, and show up consistently as a professional. I’d shot myself in the foot many times.

I felt the desire to jump 20 steps ahead, immediately. But I didn’t have the tools to do so.

This feeling I had made me miss out on the point that I’d been very destructive to my being, and that I needed to do a lot of healing. I struggled to be willing to give time to this process.

Besides stopping drinking and using drugs, I was able to stop smoking. That was about six weeks after I put down the booze, so I had another level of detoxification to go through.

No wonder I wasn’t able to be productive on a consistent basis.

However, I was being non-destructive for the first time in many years. I’d stopped the destructive path before it took me all the way down. Thank God for that!


Photo by the Author

To stop drinking, taking drugs, and smoking cigarettes is, for an addict, an incredible thing.

Sometimes, that’s enough for any one day. Or longer. However long it takes. I’ve known people who went to long-term in-patient rehabilitation clinics.

What, really, could be more productive than learning how to live without succumbing to an addiction?


I did an off-off-Broadway production of “Waiting for Godot,” which started rehearsals when I’d been sober for around five months.

It was a remarkable thing to be engaged with a play that I knew and loved. I’d played the role of Pozzo once before in college.

The production was a labor of love, not created with commercial prospects in mind. We did it to do it because we all loved the theatre and we loved the play.

What a perfect endeavor for me to be involved with! I needed the focus and commitment. I needed the camaraderie, and I needed to exercise and explore my abilities.

I’ve written about falling into the trap of believing that alcohol and drugs are necessary to fuel creativity. This experience was vital to me. I discovered that I could be creative and do good work, completely clean and sober.


As all plays do, it closed. And I was back to having a lot of time, and the feeling I should be farther along dogged me.

But I wasn’t drinking, drugging, or smoking.

And whether or not I could be productive, I was being non-destructive. Day upon day, it led to a better, more enjoyable, and more productive life.

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