Sept. 28, 2021 – Dear Larry, I didn’t always know what I know now. In fact, during the first 32 years of my life, I thought I knew everything. I was a self-centered, self-assured, ego-driven schmuck. The truth was, when left to my own devices and managing my own life, I was almost guaranteed to mess it up. Making my own decisions — the real ones, not the “should I have a toasted or plain bagel this morning” decisions — got me into trouble. I made decisions based on self that would either lead to me hurting myself or other people. During my first week at the treatment center in Minnesota, they gave me a notebook and like a deranged Jack Nicholson in “The Shining,” I remember writing over and over again that I felt hopeless and didn’t want to hurt people anymore.

At Hazelden (now Hazelden-Betty Ford), they tell you that the most important thing to maintaining lasting sobriety is to form a relationship with something bigger than yourself. For a guy who at that point had only really had a meaningful relationship with myself, the mere idea of finding something else, anything else, was a new and intimidating prospect. For some people, that relationship leans into one with an established God of your own understanding or some sort of religious practice. I was a Jewish kid from New York City, I didn’t pray on my knees, I had no faith in anything except my chemicals and that was deeply misplaced. I’ve never looked up to the sky and seen the clouds part and heard the voice of a man who looks like Santa Claus’s brother whisper in my ear. I thought I was doomed.


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