Sometimes we come across a baby boomer who has lived life’s highs and lows to the extreme. That’s what Jack W sounds like. Now, protecting his last name as we are doing too, he has written about his life of extremes, in a book called The Courage To Surrender. He had the courage. And life has never been better.
“Do not go where the path may lead … Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail …” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that close to two centuries ago. And it works for me even today.
While it’s true there is no foolproof path to a cure for alcoholism and drug addiction, I found a path to recovery that landed me in sobriety. The road map of my life stretches nearly 50 years, and it is my hope that baby boomers will relate to my journey at some point, so they can follow me into a sober life.
Unlike the memoir of a celebrity, my story lives with the millions of middleclass kids who passed me, and others, a joint and a can of beer in college and again at the corporate picnic. My memoir is rough around the edges, which is how I lived, but my story is true.
As bad as I may have appeared to people, the true measure of my self-destruction lay hidden on the dark side of my life, behind the American Dream, where my out-of-control behavior was widespread. Even in bad times I went there, as substances always took me to a comfort zone, where I could ride out any storm. I was part of the yuppie sub-culture, so heavily populated with other alcoholics and drug abusers.
My aptitude for computer technology launched a career that for 40 years moved me from one job to the challenge and salary of the next best job. I excelled in every project, earning merit awards and promotions along the way, but my heart was in system design and project management.
Being on high-potential lists, I was given the key to upper management with directions to pass company programs, and follow company protocol.
But I didn’t apply myself, which slowed my ascent to the top, as did my low self-esteem, and the fear I’d somehow fail in roles I’d never seen. The upper-level managers behaved in ways that made me uncomfortable, even their fun things were tethered to costly expectations I couldn’t afford.
My memoir is about taking action in the face of risk. I discovered that it took courage, and the strength that comes from surrender to begin my recovery.
I wrote my memoir as an example, to show that courage is about taking risks, and moving forward anyway. It’s about one person’s victory over his hell, and the lesson he learned: that strength can come from surrender.