I didn’t make any resolutions for the new year.

I know myself too well for them. I know that if I truly don’t want to let something go, I won’t. If I truly don’t need to let something go, I can’t.

It’s had me reflecting on what resolutions are. How it’s customary for gym memberships to sky-rocket in January, and gym attendance to plummet by February. Resolution is a noun. Resolutions are things.

They are declarations of the will. That’s never been my strong suit: will power. And for the outsider looking in at a drug addict and alcoholic, clean and sober for nine years, this is a conundrum. How can someone kick those habits without an iron will?

The insider—the addict, the alcoholic, the one in recovery—knows that I surrender my will power; I give up the fight. I admit that I am powerless.

My will in the matter is as useful as a swiss army knife to a brain surgeon.

The key to sobriety for me isn’t not using or not drinking, it is my surrender to the fact that I am an addict and alcoholic, and to use or to drink is to die. And because to eat too much sugar, or chew some tobacco, or drink too much coffee does not spell immediate death, making resolutions to let them go just won’t cut it for me. I know that.

At the suggestion of a colleague back in my using days, I made a resolution once to lay off cocaine for the calendar month of August. Temptation was everywhere. I chose new places to frequent and new people to be with. I did so well for the first four weeks that I rewarded myself on August 31st, a night out with some old friends.

I couldn’t make it through the month because I had to celebrate making it through the month. That sums up the insanity of addiction. While I see that it makes no sense now, back then it made perfect and compelling sense.

No. Resolutions aren’t my cup of chai. An anguished prayer in the dark of oblivion for a little relief from torture? That’s where I shine.


Working a program of recovery has made me resolute.

All of a sudden, I am a man of faith, who hasn’t missed a day of prayer in over nine years. I am diligent; my employer informed me that I have an accumulated 30 days of paid leave because I’ve missed so few work days over the years. I am resolute about recovery and writing and work and family.

I can’t explain how a resolute individual can be so poor at making resolutions.

I know it has something to do with the new habits I have developed. Muscle memory allows us to act without thinking, and it takes months and thousands of repetitions to create it. Praying, writing, working, even changing diapers every day have become easy because of habit.

Becoming resolute has opened up a new life for me. Ironically, it is a life that doesn’t have the time and energy to form a bunch of resolutions I may or may not keep.

23 Responses to “Resolute

  • Penny G
    1 year ago

    Good insights to begin a new year with. Thanks man.

  • Mark, I love how descriptive this is. There was a thread yesterday about a 30 day challenge and some commented that they first got sober that way. I couldn’t do it: I could not “give up drinking for 30 days.” Not to contradict ODAAT, I’m and all or nothing person. I had to surrender completely. That’s why I don’t do resolutions, either. Traps for failure for me. Anyway, nice start to the new year! What a year 2016 was for your presence in this community!

    • Thanks for that, HD. We are two men of one mind on most matters, I think. I wasn’t sure if people would relate to this post. Should have known better! I definitely believe it is one disease that we all suffer from…

  • A special post for me…as is Hearon’s. I was stone cold sober for 24 years…but I never believed I was an alcoholic. Now I know I was an alcoholic before I took my first drink. I know I can’t manage alcohol. 2016 showed me that. I sure tried. Meeting folks like you here in social media has been a total gift. I guess the only thing I can say for certain is that I will be resolute in the ownership of my addiction. I loved sobriety. I have faith I will again. (I will be 70 in February..isn’t that a hoot?)

    • What a hoot! Still growing, and learning. If drug addiction didn’t bring my life to a screeching bottom real fast, I don’t know how long I would have continued to drink for. The recovery community is amazing out here, isn’t it? It’s added a whole new dimension to my recovery, and therefore, my life, that I never imagined would exist. Thank you Mary! And what great work you are doing in this new year already. Resolute about our ownership of addiction. I love the ring to that!

    • Wow. I wish I read this before writing. The journey of that ship is such a metaphor for our journey through life. All aboard, the HMS Resolute. That’s awesome. Thanks for linking it in.

  • 27 years sober. My best resolution is keep it simple, one day at a time, find a way to take the next right action that will keep me on the path to serenity. OMG that sounds so much like program cliche` lingo, but it seems to work for me. Thank you for sharing what is in your heart and providing a space for others to do the same.

    • Cliches work for me as well. Fuck it. They’re cliche because they work! I hated them at first, but I’ve grown to love them after experiencing them. I really enjoy writing about those cliches, call it the “slogan series” because they are epic and brilliant, I think.

      Thank you for reading and commenting. Congrats on your sobriety!

  • I loved reading – and rereading – this post. Last night Swenny and I noted that for the first time in more than a decade, we did not make resolutions for the New Year or remind ourselves of last years. I’m glad we didn’t – resolutions are temporary. To be resolute is the goal. Happy New Year to you.

    • And a very happy new year to you too! For me, those resolutions are like New Year’s Eve itself, amateur hour…

  • The newness that your writing sheds on things is always amazing to me. Enlightened. What is a lack of substance for most, means life or death to us and I firmly believe that is why you can find that some addicts/alcoholics are the most well adjusted, in tune, people on the planet. You my friend, are one, and one I would turn to above all others. Thanks.

    • Wow, Kip. I’m honored for that high praise. You know how hard it is to keep the blogging, online message alive and fresh. So, I especially appreciate it coming from you. Someone who is always giving new and interesting perspectives on recovery, and fatherhood!

  • Love this, Mark. I am like you – I don’t do resolutions. I never once resolved to improve myself in a new year. I knew myself way too well to even bother with that. I knew I would fail in whatever I declared, so I just didn’t bother. Even now, with recovery and all sorts of other growth happening within, I know that I am not cut out for that kind of self-improvement. Like with sobriety, change usually comes to me after much pain. That’s just how I’m wired…how most of us are. I have to wait until I can no longer stand something before I remove it from my life (either permanently or temporarily). I am stubborn and set in my ways in regards to many things, and also very slow to get to change. But when I eventually get there, it often sticks. But life is fluid, and what serves me now may not serve me later. It’s all about that change – and declaring that I will do X,Y, and Z because it’s a new calendar year doesn’t do it for me.

    Anyway, this is a fantastic post, and I like the resolution / resolve angle. It’s awesome!

    Have a happy new year, bud – you’re gonna have a great one!


    • Hey Paul! Thanks bud, I appreciate that.
      I was replying to HD with this also. I can’t believe how many people can relate to the resolution thing. I understimated how we are all suffering from this one disease. Any bizarre experience or take on things is likely shared by a lot of people. We just need to voice it to find out.
      As usual, we are on the same page, my friend. Mary commented to be more “resolute about the ownership of addiction”. How brilliant! That’s exactly it. That’s really all we can do sometimes…most times.

  • Happy New Year !

    I’ve never made a new year’s resolution. But your post resonates with me when I reflect on changes I’ve made. 🙂

  • Matt (Sober Man)
    1 year ago

    That’s a beautifully articulate and thoughtful post Mark. I love how you describe the difference between ‘resolutions’ and ‘resolute’. Of course on New Year’s eve there were plenty of people thinking up or revealing their resolutions – and by morning they had changed or been ditched already. I find being resolute about certain things a good way to approach it. Once my mind’s made up about something, that’s usually it for me!

    • Thanks Matt. What awesome feedback! We’re similar. I can make up my mind about things, but I can’t just on a whim say, i’m going to change this, or I’m going to start that. It has to be genuine.

  • “I couldn’t make it through the month because I had to celebrate making it through the month. That sums up the insanity of addiction. While I see that it makes no sense now, back then it made perfect and compelling sense”

    This paragraph jumped out at me because I’ve done the same thing a dozen or so times over the years. The idea of being a more resolute person also spoke to me. It’s a huge personal goal for this year.

    • I’m gad the post resonated with you. I loved that paragraph. It came to me in one of those great fits of inspiration that I’m so hooked on in sobriety. It’s amazing the things I used to think were normal, that in reality don’t make any sense at all.

  • Happy New Year, Mark!
    Thank you for your words that help me grow in my sobriety!

  • Great post, Mark! I can’t explain why I can’t drink less but can leave it alone altogether but, hey, it works for me and a great many of us. Sugar and coffee, on the other hand… And hey, congrats on your stellar work attendance and attitude. We could all use a little more of that.

  • Ha! This made me think of my husband. His sister asked what his New Years resolution was: he looked at her with this kind of disgusted facial expression, lasers shooting out of his eyes type death stare, and said “isn’t it pretty obvious”? Later he told me it was a “life resolution” to be mastered day by day. I have also never been a fan of resolutions, they are often superficial, and with strange contrived timelines. 2016 in my life, I couldn’t wait until New Years to make changes and set goals needed for recovery, that could have been death…we need not wait to be resolute based on a holiday tradition, especially in a society that doesn’t always make it easy to engage in self love and personal resolve 365 days a year. I suppose that is up to us with the help of community. As always, right freakin on post Mark!!

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