During my downtime I find myself seeking sober souls to see where they are at, how they are coping with life and many a time and off, I learn from them and their journey. I have never met any of the lovely humans I cheerleader quietly but I do add their name into my morning candle of intention and hope they will continue to thrive as I sit admiring their bravery in recovery out loud. In early August sitting in my Madrid office, I found myself connecting to an American Naval Base in Bahrain so I could chat with the lovely Travis Akers who had been one of those humans I had added to my early morning candle when he started talking about his struggle with alcohol. I had 'met' Travis online in the Twittersphere and had been following him for a long time before he announced he was going the sober route and I felt I knew him and had passionately agreed with Travis on many things from politics to gun control (US) and the former White House Administration. The Travis I got to know on Twitter is a Navy Intelligence Officer presently stationed in Bahrain from Jacksonville, Florida, who has risen to recognition as a social media personality and an activist for veterans’ issues and gun reform. He is a co-founder of Left of Bang, a working group of fellow veterans which is creating sensible solutions to end gun violence in the United States. Additionally, Akers has served on the Board of Directors for DemCast USA and the Northeast Florida Villanova Alumni Association and is currently a Fellow with the Faith & Justice Center. He has made appearances in Newsweek, The Washington Post, Huffington Post and on CNN and NPR and now Hola Sober!!” I trusted his voice online as it was straight talking and he was authentic in all things from his family to his religious beliefs and the final veil - his sobriety. The week he came clean as to his struggles with alcohol I recall sitting at my laptop in shock because yeah you guessed it, I had never for one minute suspected that this smart guy did any kind of devil dance with liquor and his openness on the subject was breathtaking to see unfold tweet by tweet. It is often strange to meet someone for the first time when you feel you know them so very well and at times it can be disappointing. In this instance, it was not. I met the 'Travis' I had hoped and he was warm, open, intelligent, a downright lovely guy and a gentleman. Travis Akers

We spoke of his journey thus far, how he made the decision and the wonderful gifts he has found in sobriety from family to early mornings and he is a gratitude junkie about his sobriety which is always a magical conversation. Travis said of his early days post his admission on social media that he was embracing sobriety, "I was completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support since first going public about my personal struggle with alcohol. I have also been completely overwhelmed by the response of those who have sent messages asking for help. Since first discussing my journey to sobriety, I have received hundreds of DMs, mostly words of encouragement, but dozens have been from people asking for help. I never expected this size of a response. I said from the beginning if one person was helped, it was worth going public." I know as someone reading his timeline, I watched for his tweets about sobriety far more than I did about politics or veteran issues, I wanted to know he was doing all right and staying sober. Travis said of that first day, that first week in sobriety that it was not easy but "I knew that if I continued that I would die and die young, leaving my sons and wife behind at the expense of my own addiction. Only two people knew about my problem with alcohol, it was not something people knew about because I could hide it. One of those two people took their own life the day I went public about my alcohol problem. I thought for sure that would send me spiralling back into an abyss of despair and darkness, but it didn’t. I found his death as a means to discover my end, the end of my alcoholism." How powerful is that? On day one in week one, Travis's world was rattled and how very ironic that the death of one of his confidants heralded the end of Travis unhealthy relationship with the bottle. He said of those early weeks "Sobriety is one day a time. For many in the beginning, including myself, it was one hour or even one minute at a time (and sometimes still is). So how did I overcome the urges to drink? I set my alarm for one hour. I did not drink during that hour and it was a victory. At the end of the hour, I would take 30 seconds, close my eyes, and reflect on what I had just accomplished. Then, I would set my alarm for another hour, repeating this process for the entire day. The hours soon became days and I was able to reflect during meditation and prayer on what I had accomplished that day, rediscovering the beauty of the world and life along the way. But I knew that I could not do this alone.."

Sober: Sep 06, 2019 Married with two kids (Boys age 15 + 7) PROFESSION Intelligence Officer, U.S. Navy Central Command

Why go public? Aren’t alcoholics in recovery supposed to be anonymous ? "I will never share anything or the names of a person from my program or meetings. I will not share publicly, which program I am in. This is to protect privacy and the program in the event that I ever relapse. However, I will share my personal story and this is why… A person shared their story with me & now I’m on my way to recovery. If sharing & being vulnerable in transparency can help just one person, then it was worth putting myself out there & sharing my struggles with the world. It’s important for others to know they are not alone."

"Trust me on social media Travis's story, courage and openness has DEFINITELY helped all kinds of lovely people to find there way into support programs or communities. " Susan Christina

Made with FlippingBook - Online magazine maker