The Gift of Sobriety
If I do not pick up a drink in the next four days, I will celebrate 20 years without a drink this coming Thursday. It is amazing to me to reach this milestone, for when I came back to AA in 1996, I didn’t believe I could stop drinking. I took my first drink when I was 17 and my last drink when I was 49. Along the way, drugs were part of my story too.
Because I knew I couldn’t quit, I never tried. In all those 32 years, I think two weeks was the longest I went without getting drunk or high. I never doubted that I was an alcoholic and addict, and I never fought it either. I came to AA the first time in 1987, and until 1990, I went to a meeting every day and drank every day. I’d have downed a 6-pack before the meeting, and usually there was a cooler in my car so that I could start drinking again immediately after the meeting. The people at the meeting never judged me. They just told me to keep coming back.
I managed to finally go to treatment and then go 15 months before a 5-year relapse when I swore I would never go back to AA. In those early days, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t willing to do what people suggested. I just wanted my husband off my back. In my heart, I knew I was a hopeless drunk. I didn’t fight it. But after five years and a painful bottom, that moment finally came when I just couldn’t do it anymore. In the middle of a rage, my HP showed me what I had become – an angry, foul-mouthed, drunk woman. That was my moment of clarity. I sat on the edge of my bed and said out loud, “It’s time to go back.”
This time, I didn’t have to go through the meetings-drinking merry-go-round. This time, when I walked out of that first meeting, I had a choice. I could say no to that beer. The compulsion to drink was gone. The obsession lingered for a few months, but I finally had a choice, and I had the strength to make the right choice.
I did not earn my seat in AA, nor did I deserve it. It was a gift of grace from a God I still do not understand. For me, AA has been God’s handmaiden. God gave me the ability not to drink, and AA has given me the ability to live life on life’s terms. Doing the 12 Steps made it possible to put the past behind me, to live one day at a time without mind-altering substances, and to be reasonably happy.
For me, AA is the solution to my life-long pursuit of oblivion and emotional numbness. Without it, I would have drunk or used myself to death. There is no doubt about that in my mind. God gave me the willingness to follow directions. Alcohol gave me the fear of who I become when I drink. It is not easy, but it is simple. All I have to do is follow “a few simple rules,” and life gets better.
For those who are struggling, if sobriety can happen for me, it can happen for anyone. I was a hopeless case. I went to AA and still drank regularly. I left AA and swore I would never go back. I drank and drugged for more than 30 years with no thought of ever stopping. Yet, God still found me worthy of the gift of sobriety. AA gave me the gift of living normal, sober life. I do not know whether I will ever drink again, but I know I will not drink today. That’s all that matters. Just for today, I can get through anything because there is a solution available to me as long as I stay willing to do the footwork.
This week, I’d like to hear what “the Gift of Sobriety” means to you. Of course, please share on anything that you need to.