Chasing Illusions

Addiction did not fully hit until my early 40’s. My alcoholic brain kept telling me that I was too good to be addicted to anything. But deep down, I knew I was and had known since I was 21 or 22 years old.

Addiction was for lesser people. Not the Great Shayne (an ego maniac with an inferiority complex – a perfect description of the person I was). Plus, I did not drink for most of my life so how could I be an alcoholic?

By Shayne Sundholm, CEO, Clean Recovery Centers

Unhappy “Golden Boy”

Restless, irritable, and discontent were my earliest memories as I chased “material illusions” in the hope of feeling better – athletic achievements, college degrees, promotions, titles, money and things. I was showered with accolades and awards for much of my life. People called me the “Golden Boy.” None of it made me the least bit happy for more than a minute or two.

Between ages 16 to 30, my drinking escalated. Then at 30, alcohol stopped working. I remember thinking I could kill myself, or I could stop drinking and see if I could find satisfaction by focusing even more on my career.

I chose the latter and my career became my addiction. As for getting help? No way. Then people would know; what if someone found out? Aside from a few relapses, sometimes for only a day, I would not drink from ages 30 to 43.

Disastrous decision

At 42 I made a very reckless, ego driven, “dry drunk” business and career decision that brought my disease to the attention of our families and everyone we knew – all within 24 months! I was losing everything and had no recovery or coping skills to help with the level of stress and embarrassment I was feeling.

How could this happen to the Great Shayne?

Though I had desperately needed addiction treatment since the age of 21 or 22, I had never been to detox, residential, PHP, IOP or OP treatment. That would change very quickly.

Deep, dark fall

In less than 24 months I would have 20 ER visits, 15 detox stays, 4 residential rehab stays, 4 psych center stays, several attempts at IOP treatment, 2 DWI’s, wind up $500K in the hole and separated from my wife – with a knife to my wrist. I resisted virtually every addiction recovery process offered during this time. That is, until I was almost dead.

At that point, from the moment I stepped into that last rehab, I felt different. God or the Creator of the Universe, or Source, or whatever you would like to call it, was going to do for me what I could not do for myself.

Letting go

I finally and completely knew that I was an alcoholic and that my thinking was broken. I made a decision to let other people, who knew what they were doing, do the thinking for me. I would do all that I was asked to do. I let go and got well quickly.

After spending most of my life unhappy not matter what, today I am more than reasonably happy most of the time – no matter what. It’s a far better life than I could have ever imagined. My mind no longer spins a million miles an hour as it did for my entire life.

One of God’s kids

I do not live in the past or the future. I live in the present moment. I no longer chase material illusions. I tried that and it didn’t work. Today, I don’t have to be or want to be the Great Shayne. That person never existed – it was just another illusion! I am just another one of God’s kids, nothing more and nothing less.

Today my life is about helping others and passing on what was given to me. On daily basis I get to experience something I did not, could not, or would not allow myself to feel, ever – GRATITUDE!

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