Life: Third Time is a Charm

step 12 magazine sanfellipo

The most thought-provoking messages are often delivered in the most unexpected ways. I am compelled to share some recent insights prompted by a television show season finale!

My girl and I were sitting in front of the T.V., watching the last episode in the latest season of Game Of Thrones. It’s a popular show, and we find it entertaining. For readers who aren’t familiar with the series, here’s a very brief synopsis: Jon Snow is one of the primary characters in a show about territorial wars, thrones, and kingdoms set in Medieval times.

In this season-ending episode, Jon Snow was killed! He was brought back to life so he could fight in another bloody battle. Understandably, he began to ponder his purpose. He thought maybe he was brought back to life just so he could die again in this final battle. However, he did survive.

As we sat contemplating the meaning of his revival my girl said, “What do you think it’s like to be in that guy’s shoes; to be dead and then brought back to life, only to be wondering what your purpose is and why you’re there?”

It didn’t take long to answer that question. I have a really good sense of exactly what it’s like to be dead and brought back to life. I said, “It’s awesome!”

I’m on my third life right now. My first life was my childhood. The time-frame is a little different for everyone. That first life of mine, lasted until my first serious trauma. The innocence of my childhood died, and the birth of my second life began.

Life number two lasted the better part of thirty years. I only refer to it as a life because I was breathing, had a heartbeat, and was still above ground. However, my soul was in darkness. My life consisted of drinking, using drugs, smoking, going to jail, prison, etc. I was comfortable living to numb my pain and my life revolved around the next conquest.

Sadly, it is common to meet people in recovery who have experienced some major trauma in their childhood which casts darkness over their lives and puts a stranglehold on their soul. So many people in the prison system have fallen victim to an innocence-killing event (whether real or imagined) that fractured their life and identity.

In recovery, I’ve been reborn into my third life. After walking around dead inside for decades, I found a way to a better life that feels fresh, new, and purposeful. At the age of thirty-nine, I put down the drugs, alcohol, and criminal behavior in search of something more meaningful and, as a result, I was brought back to life—like Jon Snow. And like Jon Snow, I came back to fight some battles! The demons I fight today are old habits, old thought patterns, unwillingness to feel discomfort, and self-centered motivation. Like Jon Snow, I have survived those battles following my rebirth.

It’s an amazing feeling to recognize my opportunity to do things differently. I build new relationships with love rather than fear. I support myself through hard work and honest pay rather than taking what I want out of jealousy and entitlement. I help people because I have the means, not because I expect them to repay me. I live a clean life.

It took a fictional television show where some guy came back from the dead to fight a battle with a whole new perspective for me to really understand that I’m not dead anymore. There are still battles, but I don’t have to fight alone, and the rewards are great.

If I had made a list of everything I expected to gain in the first four years of my new life, I would have completely short-changed myself. By being clean/sober and working the twelve steps, having a new spiritual relationship with my higher power, I’ve been given a new life.

This new life is available to anyone. A willingness to be temporarily uncomfortable is the key to unlock a life more exciting and rewarding than most can imagine.

Written by Karen VanDenBerg based on Interviews with Dan Sanfellipo

More about Dan