I loved and hated New Year’s resolutions. I loved the hope and fantasy of a new Brian. I hated the loss of that hope.
I remember my resolutions in college and law school. Study harder. Be more outgoing. Make some friends. Drink less. Get drunk less. Stop binging and purging (I was bulimic). Lose lots of weight (even though I was of average weight) Each resolution lasted few a few days. Then the drinking binge. The food binge with the resulting purge. The inevitable “what’s the point.” Anger. Shame. Defeat. Depression.
After law school, I sunk further and further into depression and problem drinking. I added cocaine addiction to the mix. Resolutions still came but adjusted to fit the problems of the day. Snorting less cocaine. Changing drug dealers (yes that was an actual resolution). Switching to Jack Daniels and Diet Coke from Rum and Diet Coke. Taking cabs instead of driving after my DWI. Cabs were great. I could snort more cocaine and drink more without the risk of arrest.
I don’t remember making any resolutions to better a better law student or lawyer. To better serve my clients. To not take cases I was not competent to handle. To not sell my clients down the river to avoid a courtroom.
My last resolution was January 2006. I vowed to stop drinking so much and quit using cocaine. I had met a woman I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Her love would be the difference. You can imagine how that worked out. Addiction is a disease. It takes more than love to deal with it. We moved in together. I didn’t stop. I even traded Dallas Mavericks championship tickets for cocaine. In April 2007, I took my second trip to a psychiatric facility. Pain Shame. Defeat. Cycles were repeating.
I began my long-term recovery from drugs, alcohol and my eating disorder in April 2007. I decided that it was time to do something different. Yearly resolutions were not my path to sobriety and self-love. Instead, I chose to live my life one day at a time. I would focus on the day I was in rather than projecting the future. I would no longer set myself up for failure and another cycle of relapse and shame.
My recovery became about daily goals. One day sober. One day without sticking my finger down my throat. At least one daily 12 step meeting (Alcoholics Anonymous is the most well known). One session with my therapist. One Lexapro to deal to even out my clinical depression. One day of allowing myself to be vulnerable. Dismantling the brick wall I had built around my feelings decades ago, one brick at a time. One day at a time.
As the years passed my goals built on that base. Doing what I love most. Writing. Sharing my recovery in as many forums as I could. Hitting the pillow each night with the knowledge that I may have touched one person.
Today, I also have daily affirmations. To do the next right thing and learn from the wrong thing. That builds resilience. To exercise mindfulness in my decisions either in preparation or reflection. That is done in a hot shower rather than a traditional meditation session. To do at least one thing to take care of my mind and body. Finally, each day, to love me and allow others to love me. Each day, I tell myself, I am enough.
Whatever your resolutions in the New Year, be sure to love yourself and take care of you every day. Build on that. Take it from me. Playing catch-up sucks.
Brian Cuban (@bcuban) is The Addicted Lawyer. Brian is the author of the Amazon best-selling book, The Addicted Lawyer: Tales Of The Bar, Booze, Blow & Redemption (affiliate link). A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, he somehow made it through as an alcoholic then added cocaine to his résumé as a practicing attorney. He went into recovery April 8, 2007. He left the practice of law and now writes and speaks on recovery topics, not only for the legal profession, but on recovery in general. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.