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??no such thing, living to die, the life of an alcoholic and his dysfunctional 80??s family upbringing??

Call it what you will, label it as such??for many years I know I did. Trying hard to find the exact reasons why, I lived the way I did for so long??

I first sobered up after running away as a teenager to New York City at the age of 16. After a year and a half of "forced" sobriety, due to the experiences of a small town boy in a big time city??.I looked at myself and said, "What are you afraid of?? it wasn??t that bad, and now your older????.After that, it was on again and again, and back and forth sober, then not sober. I took another look at myself and said "Make a choice! Are you in or are you out??? I decided I was OUT. And into that life I began again??the search was on, and this time we were going to stay until we found what we were looking for.

For so many years, my life consisted of a battle of "substance". Not only the substances I put into my body, but the substance of "Lance" and his soul. I was dying to live, however, at the same time I was dying from that living.
On this day, I have to say to you, that my life, my world, my "substance?? is right in front of me. With all those things, we are taught that we must have, and need, to be something. I ask, "Who's the one who says who I am, and what I should be??? It isn't all that stuff, that for some reason, we were brought up to think would make us something or happy. If it isn??t who we really are, why do we have to do anything or be who we are not?
Without "substance", I found myself living someone else??s passion, not my own.

When we, as addicted souls, know what we are doing is wrong, we tend to punish ourselves harder. So until the war inside us subsides, (for many it doesn??t), and we finally realize, ??Ok, I am done??, and I don??t want this kind of life any longer.??? It is only then that we can make the choice we want to LIVE. I have seen Hell in my life enough times to know, on this day, it is not where I choose to be any longer. The difference is that we come to our "own" terms with our decisions.

I am sober 5 years on Memorial Day this year. I didn??t do it because someone else told me to. I did it because I and ??He?? came to terms with myself and "He" knew I was ready. "He" gave me the push and said "I will be here for you!" But, YOU have to do the work and take responsibility! I have to remember that I messed up everything for a long time and it will not be fixed overnight. You should to ask yourself, what it is you are doing it? for?, and then, what are you trying to GET BACK?

I wanted Lance??s soul back, and that??s what I got. The rest is just ??stuff?? and unless we are ok with it all and start to forgive ourselves, we cannot change our world. Our addictions helped us cope, until our addictions turned us into their puppets. Making us think they are the only answer, and soon it ends up being the only way we know. Is there fear? Hell yes, it is fear of the unknown! I thought to myself, ??When was I ever sober for anything??? How many times did I run away from myself, only to end up right back there with Lance again, my own worst enemy?

Now everywhere I go I take myself with me. He??s not such a bad guy. After all, I am very passionate about my sobriety and not because other people say, ??Good job". I don??t wake up with them anyway, I wake up with myself. "He" has opened up a world for me, filled with possibilities each and every day. Now I do what I want and, in turn, a better Lance turns into a better world. DO IT FOR YOU! You are the only one who can! Even at age 46, I am still lucky enough to be ALIVE? to learn something new every day!
The adventure is never over for a guy like me??..

It??s nice to look around and see where I am with my life now. I had a plan and a vision for what I wanted to do and how I wanted to live. It??s not for everybody. I guess, this morning, I am realizing that more and more. I am Lance, and that is what I wanted back the most in the first place. No one can be ??Lance?? for me nor can I give them ??Lance?? to make them happy. My friends, it has been a long uphill climb since that day 5 years ago. And, really, nothing has been given to me without a whole lot of freaking effort. ??He?? started me down the right path towards my own salvation and that is exactly what I asked from ??Him??. I made a deal, I made a commitment to ??Him??, saying that I would help others along the way. ??He?? made sure that I remembered that I cannot do it FOR them and not everything will be as I want it to be.

I cannot force others to see their own faults or what they need to do for the sake of ??my?? opinion.
Every day I start out with song, some coffee, some animal love, and some thoughts. This day is no different from any other but it is however, one filled with some serious reflections of the past. I'm not going to cry about all those things I don't have. I don't share my sobriety with you because I want recognition or a pat on the back from the world. I have had to re- learn how to live my life. My thoughts and experiences in this new way of life are slowly being made up and giving me a new past. It adds that substance to who I am, just as much as the 20+ years of "partying like a rock star" did.

If you know Lance, you know what has changed and what has not. I kept my zest for life, and my friends, and that will never fade away, not if I can help it??. The choices in my life were not always the best, but you know I lived with those choices and many times dealt with the serious repercussions and consequences over and over again. 4 years ago, "on this day", I woke up without a song and with a bottle of Vodka by my side.? My thoughts consisted of hate and bitterness towards the world, and that guy staring back at me, The one that, after he was done hugging a toilet and downing another shot to stop the animal inside himself , cried out to ??Him?? for help again and again. Live or die, what is it going to be Lance? The world was not going to care either way, it moves on regardless, but what about your world? Doesn??t it deserve the real person you know wants to come out?? That??s how it began, when there was no choice left, except the "right one".
It seems that for today I am waking up to "the real life" that I have been living for quite a time now. I wonder why I was so afraid of it for so long. It has been a grind at times this year, switching jobs, moving place to place, serious illnesses in the house, bills, money, commitments and on and on. Last night at work I was chatting with a few people about Lance and his own journey to the life I have chosen now. One point that seemed to stand out the most was the one about living with myself, and being ok with Lance each day. I have had the chance in this year to be a coach, a father, a student, an actor and a friend. The list continues to grow each and every day. I know today, without a doubt, it is because I am not afraid now. The ??real life" I live is everything I could have asked for and more. Again, it always comes down to personal choices. It is not that we are bad people, it is just our bad choices. How many times did I hear that? How many times to I proclaim to the world that I wasn't a bad person, only to prove over and over through my actions that I really was? Today I know I cannot save the world or save anyone else from the consequences of their decisions, anymore than I could stop myself from the loss, the pain, the despair, and overwhelming loneliness that came from the choices that my addiction made for me all those years. I know that when we stop for a moment and take a look at it, today I don't seem to have that same problems, and today my choices have brought the rewards that I was told would be there if I just "BELIEVED"??.
My friends, as I continue on my journey, I have to say, it can be what you want it to be once you figure out that you do really want it, then, never look back regretting your past. I suggest you be what you want to be because you are the only one who can.
When I take a look at the world, I see something good that has been created because the old patterns of those days have been broken. Just waking up every day and being excited about the day, is a gift from my change of thinking. When someone asks me about the past and says, "Ok your here, but what about your friends?" I answer them honestly, by saying, that those that kept up with my old way of living, aren't around in my life any more. I have lost so many friends, but at the same time I have gained a whole new group of friends. I have had a whole new world presented to me, just like the quote reminds me...
That is the positive swing on my life. We do not have to change, it's a choice. The one thing I like about this new world is I am the one making those choices. In the old days my choices were made for me, by the booze, the drugs, Judges, prison guards, ex-wives, bosses, etc. and a lot of other people, places and influences. Does that make sense? As I wake up each day it is still new and I am learning more and more about "Lance", and accepting his faults, his passions, his abilities, or lack of, and so many other things that were hidden deep inside of him for so many years. I ask myself "What about your friends and will they still like you now??? and like I tell my son,?? Baby~Huey, If they don't, well to Hell with them. They weren't meant to be in your world anyways.?? In the end, the important question is, "Was I a friend to myself?" On this day, I can say, ??Yes??, the best friend I could have been!
I have a close dear friend whom I call my ??sister??. I know her soul and in this life it shines! I have never been as proud to be associated with another human being as much as I have with her. I reference her and her life as something good, true and forever. We will always be close. She has accepted me even when I didn??t. If there is a special relationship I can talk about, it would be about her. We have history and it hasn??t always been "bunnies and daises". We know the world is cruel, but through it all, we never changed. We believe in each other and I would protect her to the end. There is no bitter about it. My life has been a ride to say the least. There are tons of people I meet, I have seen and I have experienced many things. Believe it or not, I stayed ??true to myself", even when I was trying to destroy everything, I managed to hold on to it. That is what I think most people never grasped.

I made a decision one day to risk my everyday life and leave. I could not have both and I could not have any more second thoughts. I left my marriage, child and job and went to Vegas to see where it would take me and what I would end up being. After awhile that torture in my soul needed to be released, let go of, and never looked at again as a road that was always open. I talked and confessed to my sister my inner struggles because I know that it was all the internal ??war?? I could handle. It was my sister that has helped show me what "peace" can be because she accepts what ??is?? and what is not. I see so many people in the world today that are going through the same thing. They refuse to face the past and the present, and then make that commitment and choice for their own future. People portray a false front of never letting anyone get close, never admitting their needs and wants to anyone. It is so transparent.? I remember standing at the top of it all and telling myself the truth for the first time. "I cannot give anything to anyone else because I am not whole inside??. If you cannot be with yourself, you can't be with anyone else. For some of us, we search and search for outside circumstances to justify how we feel inside, good and bad, and it seems it is always easier to look to other things to blame. The truth is we make our lives what we want them to be. That is what I have reached. We want everyone with us come on our great journey as well, unfortunately, we find they can't get what we have from us, it comes from within. After 5 years, I am still happy inside and my soul is right, and because of it, each day I am alive, positive and good. It is not because I want something from it, it is because through living that way each day I gain everything I could ask for!

Today, I look at how far I have come and know how I don??t want to live any longer. My whole point of this is that on THIS day, I actually have given myself the gift of choices. If something is not the way I want it, I have learned to accept it or change it. You won??t find me complaining, that would be wrong. Being grateful for what is in front of me is ??His?? way, and with that, I know it is right!??
What a fantastic gift of "today" that I have had. When I think back and look at all that could have been lost in my life and if I had not realized that I was done in that other world in time, what could have been. If I wanted anything else out of my life, becoming sober was the only true way to get there.

There is NO time like the present! How those words ring true this evening. My little league team, the "Owls??, are playing in the semi-finals on my birthday. When we win, our "journey" will continue and continue as it started, together as a team.

I am not a savior, I am not a saint, I am just "Lance". Tomorrow I turn 47 years old. My present to myself is the day itself! I am ALIVE. When many people I started with aren't there, sometimes I don't know why or how I survived and when they didn't. I look in my sons eyes and all the other kids and all the people I am lucky enough to meet and able to share my life with every day. Then it hits me,?? Mine is not to question, it is to just ??be". "He" decides the rest. In my life I have shared many birthdays and there are some I have not shared at all. My first wife can tell you I spent a couple birthday??s in prison. Not much celebration going on in there and you hope the present they want to give you does not involve, well??.you know. I am proud of my boy as he strives for his own success this year and I am amazed at the life that has presented itself before me. I have been so blessed my friends. I am here in the now and well. I still have LIFE left in my soul. I pray this worn out body that I filled with pain and misery so many of those years will carry me farther. I talk about "new beginnings" and I always ask myself, ??Self, what if just for today, you could have it all?" I stare at this screen every night and share with you. I already do have it all and it isn't easy. Yes, I agree life can suck, but that "new beginning" can start anytime you want it to. I will tell you, "There is no time like the present!??
At the end of the day my friends, there has never been a "HIGH" better than I am able to have today, all from being given that chance again to "participate" and be responsible for my own world and my own life. It is getting better every day, and I am grateful for that.

Lance Rome

Valley, NE

recovering alcoholic/addict (and still "living")

This Story of Hope was created in celebration of recovery and to let families know that there are pathways to hope and healing. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families who are struggling with their son or daughter's substance use. Please consider sharing this page so that families know where to turn to for help, and that there is always hope.

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