Keep It Green

Sober anniversaries make me squirrelly, and I’m finally beginning to understand why.

Today marks 9 years clean and sober.


That is a fucking miracle. And while I will go and celebrate tomorrow night with my 12-step posse, the celebration is always complicated. What I mean is

I can’t celebrate my first day sober without remembering my last day drunk.

Celebrations take me back to the old days, and not in a nostalgic Run-D.M.C. reminiscent way, but in a “damn, look at what I called living” kind of way. There is no escaping what life used to be like on your sober anniversary. At the same time, you celebrate the way life is for you now.

And somewhere in this deep swirl of shame and joy, you eat cake, pick up a chip, and stay up past your bedtime drinking coffee.

Nine years ago today I stood naked in a dusty Mexican town, 200 miles south of the border. I left my clothes and possessions in a church, where I believed I heard the voice of God shake the earth, and the hand of God touch my soul. Perhaps I did. The message I heard was “Life is over.” In a way it was.

October 13, 2007 was my personal Armageddon; a new self rose from the cindery ashes of my addiction.

In another, more accurate clinical way, I was strung-out, sleepless, and experiencing the tremens and hallucinations of a 24-year-old undergoing a drug-induced psychosis. Things I saw and heard weren’t real. I know that today. But the message was clear: “Life (as I knew it) was over.”

This—dear readers, friends, and family—is what it means to keep it green. I keep the memory of who I was and what I was doing fresh in my mind. I don’t share about my final days in Los Angeles for false pride. I’m not open about my stint in the psychiatric ward to garner sympathy. I don’t write about the the joys of simple living—the miracle of the mundane—to boast.

I keep it green to stay alive.

When I forget where I came from, I start taking credit for where I am today. I take credit for my sobriety. And that just ain’t right.

I’m sober by your help, your support, your advice. Your phone calls and long conversations over coffee. Your step work. Your guidance. Your love.

I am sober because of you.

If I forget that—if I lose my gratitude—I would drink again.



“Keep It Green” is one of the many sober slogans that have become significant in my life. These slogans used to irritate me. Now I cling to them like a drowning man to his life-preserver. For more in the “Slogan Series” click here.

24 Responses to “Keep It Green

  • Thanks, always make so much sense to me.

  • Mark Decker (Sr)
    1 year ago

    So proud of you, Mark. Your personal strength and love of life shows through your agony. Keep it green – keep on trucking’

  • Congratulations on 9 years! That’s amazing! I’m coming up on my 3 years and those lovely drinking dreams are rearing their ugly head! Luckily I have a fantastic sponsor and my own 12-step posse to lean on.

  • Congratulations Mark! Keep writing and sharing, I’m sure you encourage and inspire many people at the beginning of their sobriety! <3
    Diana xo

  • Taylor
    1 year ago

    Nothing but joy for me today. I’m so proud of my you as you both walk this path and, in telling your story, turn and reach a hand out to others to offer help. And you do it without ego or fanfare. Congratulations to you and many happy October 13ths to come.

    • Thank you T. While rusted and broken, it (you) still points me in the right direction.

      • Taylor
        1 year ago

        Whoa- teary (and annoyed it hasn’t held up better, sorry about that!!!)

  • That’s a real miracle, Mark!

  • Happy birthday Mark. You give me hope.

  • Congratulations on 9 years! And thanks for helping illuminate one of those slogans that has always baffled me. Well done you, and well done everyone who supports you, too!

  • God has blessed you.
    “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.”
    We had to go where we went to get to where we are at.

    “Keep it green.” I like it.

  • Ginger Groundhog
    1 year ago

    Ever the contrarian I have to say that yes it is credit to you that you are sober. All those other people did play an enormous part but please DO NOT leave yourself out of the equation. I think it is a great achievement and one which you have humbly thanked everyone for their part but I also say kudos to you Mark for all you have done yourself. Congratulations.

  • Hi Mark!!
    Thank you for showing me the wonderful growth that happens in sobriety!!

  • I’m with Ginger the Groundhog; even though others lent a hand in your quest for Sobriety, when, “push came to shove” it was YOU who became Sober. Let credit fall where credit is due; it was you who chose Sobriety each and every day since that 1st Oct. 13th, not any of the others. Congratulations on your success to always, “Keep it Green.”…..Frank.

  • Congratulations on your nine years!! Sweet photo!

  • David Chastain
    1 year ago

    Mark – I am so grateful for the opportunity to have gotten to know you. Our lives intersected for a reason because the Lord always puts people in your life for a reason, season or a lifetime. I think the inspiration your story induces is contagious. I think the change you have experienced is God’s character becoming reality in your life. Romans 5:1-5 says it – Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope.
    Never doubt that voice as God speaking to you! Hallucination or not, God orchestrated every moment of your life. Love you man!!

    • Great to hear from you David! I appreciate the scripture. As usual, the Andre is right in front of us, whenever we choose to look for it. Hope all is well with you and your family.

  • Nine years is huge! Congrats!

  • I found this post to be powerful in its vulnerability and humility. Congratulations for reaching gratitude. My it always help you find the strength and inspiration you need to continue overcoming lie’s challenges.

  • Awesome post – you in Mexico sounds like me at Burning Man. Glad we’re both here to share, laugh, and move on!

  • I don’t have anything to add, but I can’t find a Like button and feel the need to say, Yes. And congratulations.

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