Topic for the week: Courage
I’m Mari Ann and I’m an alcoholic.
Thirty four years ago this morning I entered the Institute of Living in Hartford CT to get sober. I had been drinking daily for 23 years and was 100% certain I would be dead within 6 months if I didn’t stop drinking and about 99.99% sure that stopping drinking would also kill me. Only that .01% was hope I might get to live a sober life.
What is striking me this year, especially after all the gut-wrenching shares on Step One, is how much courage it takes to come into this program and give up everything familiar to us – including the only selves we know. Everyone who shared on Step One deeply touched me last week.
Each share reminded me of exactly how I felt when I entered the IOL.
I was shaking, sick to my stomach, and full of fear. I had no idea what to expect from treatment beyond being pretty sure I was doomed to AA meetings for the rest of my life.
I dug out my journal for 1988 and read the entries from January 1 to the top of January 9th last night to remind myself of the beginning. That Mari Ann surprises me with her courage and determination. I had been given the “gift of desperation” days before I put down the drink and came into the program. I hope it never leaves me. Courage was the by-product of that gift. It gives us the guts to do what we think we cannot do.
I’m lucky in getting sober in January when all my meetings focus on Step One because it allows me to see the grace and mercy given me during all the years since which let me come to an acceptance of who I am today.
Today I am a woman I genuinely like. I’ve filled my life with people whom I genuinely like and who fill my world with love and friendship. All of it made possible by simply living this magical journey of recovery in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous to the best of my ability every single day.
The pandemic has pushed all my f2f meetings to zoom and even there the courage of newcomers is strikingly visible. Daring to announce themselves to a screen of little windows full of women they don’t know. And then they come back and do it the next week, and the next. I’ve been privileged to witness one woman celebrate 2 years sober on zoom, a couple of others have passed the 18 month milestone, and another local woman announced she had 11 months on January 1st. They have no idea how important they are to all of us in the meeting but I do. I may not be able to hug them, but I can send them a card and a medallion. I’m not sure if that’s helpful to them but it sure is helpful to me.
SIS has been part of my sober journey since July of 1997 and some of you have been part of my world ever since. I added GROW to my recovery aids when it started and I read every share in both groups. I consider online AA an important feature of my recovery, one Bill Wilson could never have foreseen, yet it is always there if I want a quick reminder that I am not alone.
So thank you for your courage in getting and staying sober. Thank you for sharing your experience with me during all these years. Thank you for the gasp of recognition your shares produce at times. Thank you for daring to be sober-you.
This is your meeting so please feel free to share on topic, or on anything impacting your sobriety today.