Achieving Wellness Through Recovery: Q&A with Mike B.

Mountainside M Logo By Mountainside
man seated thoughtfully in black room

Mike B. talks about how seeking help and persevering through recovery transformed into a better, healthier man.

Q: What was the turning point that led you to get help?

A: My father and my brother pulled me aside on Easter Sunday in 2002. It was sort of an intervention. Very low-key. Two very important people in my life spoke some very hard truths to me, and I felt like it was time to believe them. And to listen. It was a powerful day. And I didn’t know it was going to be that kind of day when it started. I thought it was going to be just another scramble. Another day of low-level chaos and fear. But it turned into something really, really special.

Q: How did you feel at the beginning of treatment compared to when you completed treatment?

A: At the beginning, I was exhausted, embarrassed and full of shame, but I had a little sliver of hope. When I finished treatment just two weeks later, I was very energetic. I felt like I was sure this would be ok. That it would work. I felt like I had a new beginning, which was something I had wanted for a long time.

Q: What has been the most challenging part of recovery for you? Why?

A: I guess the hard part is watching other people struggle and not “get it.” You can’t force recovery on someone. If you could, I’d have been sober a long time before I actually got there. It seems so obvious and so clear to me now. But I have to remember that the first few times I tried to get clean, it was just a battle the whole time and it didn’t work for me. So I remind myself that not everyone is ready. That’s tough to deal with. I want to throw everyone into the lifeboat and row to shore. I want to shake them and say, “snap out of it. This is so much easier than you’re making it.” But it doesn’t work that way.

Q: What has kept you motivated in recovery?

A: I think the best motivation tool has been that my life has turned around so completely. I really look forward to the next adventure. I know that sounds corny, but every day has some sort of great surprise. It’s really been a lot of fun packed into these sober years.

Q: What would you like people who are afraid to receive treatment to know?

A: You have a lot to fear when you’re out there, drinking and doing drugs every day. That’s a dangerous and miserable world. Sobriety? That’s nothing to be afraid of. That’s like being afraid of ice cream. Sobriety is the good stuff.

Q: What is the best advice you have been given?

A: “Don’t quit before the miracle.” And since no one told me what the miracle was going to be, I guess I shortened it to “Don’t quit.”

Q: What are some of your personal “rules” that you never break?

A: I don’t know that I have any rules, other than “don’t drink.” I feel like I make good decisions now.

Q: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

A: When I was drinking, I really believed that I was the least effective, least disciplined person in the world, completely defective in willpower, and utterly unreliable. I learned once I got sober that none of that was true. I just couldn’t do anything well or consistently when I was drinking. I tell people now, “the people that know me now would never believe what I used to be like; the people who knew me back then would never believe how I turned out now.”

Q: What gives your life meaning?

A: The ability to be there for other people. I like helping people out. It makes me feel like I’m not here by mistake.

Q: List 5 goals on your life’s to-do list:

  1. Be sober when I die.
  2. The rest…I prefer the surprises.

Q: Describe yourself in three words:

A: Grateful, determined, optimistic.

Q: What would you name the autobiography of your life? And why?

A: “You’re Not Gonna Believe This S***” For obvious reasons.

Q: What song best sums you up? Why?

A: I’ve always loved the song “Put Your Light On” by Santana. On the surface it’s about a kid who’s afraid of the dark. But I know it’s more than that. And the guitar is so powerful in that song. It’s like the guitar is fighting the fear, and it wins. And the song gets really quiet and free at the end. I don’t know. It’s very dramatic to me. And almost anything by Tom Waits, who writes a better broken-hearted love song than anyone.

Q: What do you miss most about being a kid?

A: Being able to run and climb trees. And playing baseball all day.

Q: If you could go on a road trip with any person – dead or alive– who would you choose and where would you go?

A: Somebody who could play guitar really well. Because it’s mostly country music on the radio once you get out of the Northeast, and that will make you nuts on a long drive. And someone who brings good snacks. And my Dad. Because he was one funny dude and he liked to stop at diners, which I am always up for.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Mountainside can help.
Click here or call (888) 833-4676 to speak with one of our addiction treatment experts.