21 Years Sober

21bdWednesday this week, Oct. 2, I celebrated 21 years clean and sober.  Well, I didn’t exactly celebrate.  I went to a legal education program at the San Francisco Federal Building in the late afternoon, then walked over to the Mission district to see what I thought was a film about German postwar radicalism, but turned out to be a speaker, which I was not in the mood for, so I went home where my anniversary present to myself was waiting for me: a new Kindle Paperwhite.  I love a good gadget. More about that at another time.

I do want to express my thanks here, as I did in an earlier email to the LifeRing convenor list, to all the many many people who have been part of my sobriety support network over the years.  First and foremost in that network is my son Fred, who at the age of ten, changed his Dad’s life forever with a simple Socratic question.  I’ve written about that in my book, Empowering Your Sober Self.  Fred is now a successful singer/songwriter who’ll be performing at the Hotel Utah tomorrow (Sunday Oct 6).

I also owe special thanks to the Kaiser Permanente Chemical Dependency Recovery Program in Oakland and to its then Medical Director, Dr. Lawrence Bryer, for giving me the choice, at the outset, of a religion-based or a secular recovery support group option.  I chose secular, and that turned out to be a good fit for me.  I met many wonderful people in this network, which evolved into LifeRing Secular Recovery (www.lifering.org).  Although the position of responsibility that I came to occupy in this organization tended at times to be a lonely one — a common experience of CEOs — I was never at a loss for support for maintaining a life of freedom from addictive substances.  I retired from the leadership of this nonprofit in 2011, but I still lead a weekly meeting and maintain ties of friendship and support.

Here are some of the responses from other LifeRing participants about my 21st anniversary:

Unless my calendar is lying,  your sobriety is now a legal adult anywhere.  Congratulations, Marty, and a world of gratitude for all you’ve done to help so many.  I’m quite sure I would still be drinking had it not been for the sane, logical, no-nonsense approach of LifeRing.  Although I had the pleasure of meeting you only once, you remain a very bright star in the heavens of a sobriety I cherish above all else. I hope you plan to celebrate this day in a meaningful way. With great love,  – M.

Congrats! – L.

Dear Marty. Many congratulations to you!  You have changed our lives as well. Cheers!  — T.

I remember when we met being slightly jealous about your 6+ years.  Now I’m overjoyed at your celebration of a different, delightful sort of “coming of age”… You’ve been a huge factor in my success as a sober person and I will forever be grateful for that.  Congratulations on a marvelous milestone!  May you enjoy at least 21 more! — C.
Congratulations Marty! 🙂  — J.
Marty, wonderful to hear, and I echo T’s comments – your efforts establishing LifeRing certainly were instrumental in saving my life, and I thank you for that while extending my congratulations to you on the success of your own work and support.  — L.

Congratulations Marty! Thanks for everything you’ve done! — D.

The simple answer to long-term success in recovery is: I didn’t die and I didn’t drink…and had a sh–load of fun along the way…Way to be Marty… — J.

Hey Marty!!  Thanks for demonstrating what long-term sobriety looks like as opposed to simple abstinence. Many of us know 20+ year veterans of other programs that make us wonder why they stopped using to begin with. Your life is rich and filled with new adventure and ongoing learning.  That’s what I am looking for in sobriety 🙂  — N.

You’re delighted to announce it, and I’m delighted to read it! Congratulations, Big Guy! — C.

Congrats marty!! and thanks for all you’ve done for lifering.  –K.

Congratulations, Marty!  Thank you for all you’ve done, giving us LifeRing and writing such wonderful books.  21 years is impressive!–that makes you old enough to…oops, never mind! 🙂  Much love. — S.

Awesome!  You’re such an inspiration! Congratulations, Marty! — C.
Congratulations Marty! — M.
Wow, Marty! Congratulations. And thanks for Lifering,and your support, too. — B
Congratulations!!!  Look at what you have done for all of us!  We love options. Thank you so ever much. — E.
Very nice, Marty. You are an inspiration to me and, as indicated by the emails, an inspiration to a lot of other people in recovery.  Thank you for starting LifeRing.  — R.
Such a wonderful achievement, and a shining light to everyone in recovery. — N.

Congratulations Marty!  Hope you partied wisely:-)  all the best.  — P from Copenhagen

Here is a Big “Hurra” for you Marty from the group in Stockholm. — L.

That’s great Marty, you are an inspiration! I’m right behind you with 13 years. I still go to one meeting a week. – C.

Wow. My heartiest congratulations to you, Marty! Thanks to the kind support of people like you in LifeRing, I’ll hit the eight-year mark, myself, next month.- J.

Congratulations! It’s been an honor to know you, and to share part of those 21 years. – L.

Happy Sober Birthday!! 11years for me since I have been retired 9 yrs. I’m guessing I had 2 yrs. – B.

I remember when my sobriety turned 21 like it was only 2 weeks ago – oh wait, it was only 2 weeks ago. Congrats Marty! — G.

I can’t express enough gratitude for all you’ve done, Marty. I’ve missed having a chance to see you the past few years, but you’ve been and will continue to be an inspiration to myself and many others. – C.


Marty, I’m with C. You were an “elder” in my beginning, and I’m glad you were there. – M.


Carry on, Comrade… – C.


Congratulations, Marty! And thanks for all your work to make LSR a viable alternative. – A.


Clapping in Ohio! — D.


 Four hands clapping. — J.


Terrific. Now multiply those years by all the others you have helped get clean and sober. — S.


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