One Day at A Time

As I look at my past ten years of sobriety, then my relapse, I have to look at what didn’t work. I had a good program going until I started to do what I wanted, when I wanted and how I wanted to do things in my life. Since I restarted my journey in sobriety, I only concentrate on “One Day at a Time” literally. I’ve developed a daily schedule, simple yet effective, which helps me to stay sober and allows for peace and serenity in my life.

At the ten year mark, I was in my own place, where I wanted to be, doing what I wanted. There wasn’t a thought I had my alcoholism “licked” because I knew better. It was waiting patiently, waiting for the right time to come back and kick my arse. That it did! Hence, the saying, “..cunning, baffling and powerful”. It wasn’t like drinking my first beer ever in life. I started right back from where I left off ten years ago: one beer the first day, three the next but the end of the week a 12pk, next week I was drinking a good 30 pack a day AGAIN. Remember its a progressive, chronic disease. It never stops until we are DEAD!

When I walk through the doors this time around, I made a commitment LIVE ONE DAY AT A TIME. Honestly, I had reservations whether I was going to stay sober until I walked into my first AA meeting – I was home again. So the first thing I do daily is practice gratitude:

  • I’m grateful for my Higher Power for waking me up (I’m alive)
  • I’m grateful to be start another day sober
  • I’m grateful to be a member of Alcoholics Anonymous

If you’re reading this, you know the second thing I do daily to keep myself sober – I take the time to post my daily readings. Why? My sponsor the first time I was sober told me to write each Step down. If we write things down, we have to face them. I do this process with my readings. Instead of just reading them, I actually type them out here. It helps me to remember, perhaps, those things I can work on for my sobriety today.

For instance, as you know I have codependent behaviors, hence the Language of Letting Go readings. These principles are vital in my sobriety. Just like my alcoholism, I must practice these principles daily. One of my roommates takes something out and doesn’t put it back where it belongs. He wakes up in the middle of the night, makes himself a snack leaving the peanut butter jar open with the knife on top. He habitually leaves not one but multiple glasses laying around the house empty after drinking its contents. Deep down it infuriates me. He’s a f**king slob. However, it is NOT my job to clean up after him. Even after multiple times of asking (politely) to clean up his own messes, he just doesn’t want to change. So, daily I remind him, “Mr. X please put X in the sink to be washed.” I can’t change him; he has to be willing to change himself. I have no control over what he does or doesn’t do. The point is I’m not going to “save or take care of” him. I have to practice acceptance, tolerance and pity (an AA principle) – meet him where he’s at, keep my calm and recognize he’s just sicker than me.

The Three
AA Legacies

I recognize from my own past when I am not involved in Alcoholics Anonymous in any way, shape or form I’m walking toward my next drink. No matter what my mood, no matter who may or may not show up, no matter how much I may despise people, how they share their non-existence of experience in meetings or what the weather is outside, I have to attend meetings. I also have commitments; I have responsibilities to show up, not only for myself, but for others. Every meeting I attend, I hear a message I can learn and apply in my own life. Luckily for me, there are at least two meetings a day I can attend to help me stay sober no matter what is going on in my life. Again, this is a vital “action” needed for recovery – going to meetings on a regular basis.

I’m grateful for the residential program where I currently reside because honestly I’m not sure if I could stay sober without the continued support I receive on a daily basis. At times, I may despise this program. For instance, a staff member just came into the house. He didn’t knock or say, “Hello! Is anyone home?” He just came in, ignored me, walked around the house, then proceeds to tell me, “Please sweep the floor” as he’s walking out of the house. I would never just walk into someone’s house. When I worked in the chemical dependency field, we practiced respect for our clients. Again, I have to recognize, my values may not be the same as others and this is a temporary situation. For my sobriety I just bite my tongue, take a breath and move on.

Despite small inconveniences throughout the day, I manage to live a simple yet meaningful life. I may not have a job, my own home, money in my pocket, etc. But I am sober and enjoying life today. It reminds me of the 9th Step promises:

“We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will materialize if we work for them.”  

Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, pg. 83 and 84

Easter 2019 – Back in Time

My roommates Mother, and sometimes his Aunt, come and visit on a regular basis. A few times they have asked me to come to dinner, drove us to sober events in the area, etc. Last weekend I was invited to their homes for Easter. The whole experience reminds me how our Higher Power brings people into our lives for a reason, if we choose to believe such things. The experience brought me back in time reminding me where I had been and where I am now.

I was nervous about going. Back in the day when actively drinking between 2004 and 2007, Candor, NY, was my “stomping grounds”. I was later reminded of my friends GW, CP and “Griff” who I had not thought of in more than a decade until now. These were “my three best friends”. All extreme alcoholics, two with extensive criminal backgrounds. At times I thought, would they recognize me or what happens if I see them? As much as I could I tried to put those thoughts out of my mind.

As we headed for Candor in the early afternoon, all I could do is stare out the window. I just love the peace and serenity of country living. The other two were having a conversation in the front. I usually call my roommates Mother by her first name. She insisted, “ me Mom. It’s okay. You’re part of our family now.” She asked about my past, how I had known “Griff’s” family and my experiences. As I told her I was transported back in time when I would be riding in the GW’s car down the country roads and through the “back hills” to get to our destination. Both of us drunk, with cans of beer between our legs mostly likely heading somewhere to get more beer. Our thought was you can’t always visit the same place otherwise you’re considered an “alcoholic”. As we finally drove into town, I felt a relief. No longer was I the person which used to live here over a decade ago.

After we got settled in their house, Mom drove us to a meeting in Owego, NY. The last time I was in a meeting in Owego, NY, was Feb 2018, right before my relapse. From July 2017 to then I had made meetings. After, I started making excuses, never to return and relapsing. As people filed in I began to recognize people. Shaking my hand John (an old timer at the meeting) said, “I do know you from somewhere, right?” I simply said, “Yes” leaving it there. I even saw another old timer from Binghamton who knew my old Sponsor when we all lived there. Knowing it was a “Beginner’s meeting” I was prepared to do a short share of my story and relapse experience. Halfway through the meeting I shared telling them where I had been and where I am now. Knowing the geographical area, many were amazed when I said I walked from Van Etten, NY, to Elmira, NY taking me ten hours to get there, walking into a facility straight off the street getting the help I needed. Hopefully I inspired the few newcomers that were there. You are NOT alone and recovery is possible.

Saturday night, I had trouble sleeping. I was flooded with memories of my old self. I kept coming to tears thanking my Higher Power for helping me become the person I am today. Eventually I woke up at 5:30 am and just went out to enjoy the sun rising. I had myself a deep crying session and I wasn’t one bit embarrassed about it. From that moment on, those memories subsided. Afterward, I was able to enjoy a relaxing afternoon with my extended family for Easter.

The whole experience just strengthened my commitment to my new journey in sobriety. I need never forget where I can from. Today, a few of the Ninth Step Promises are coming true, again.

The Ninth Step Promises

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.

. . .

Big Book pages 83 & 84 Copyright © Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.