Just Today

In Alcoholic’s Anonymous we talk about, “One Day at A Time”. That phrase kept me sober for a long time the last time. I have been living such since I began my new journey. Sometimes, as of late, I get overwhelmed with sobriety; I feel like I’m doing to much. But my past experience shows me if I get farther away from AA, I will drink. Again, another slogan, “Keep it Simple” comes to mind. Here is an example.

Yesterday is written in stone; I can’t change what happened yesterday. Tomorrow is not here; anything can happen tomorrow, whether I want it to or not, so why worry about it. When I concentrate on just today, what I need to do to stay sober, life tends to run more smoothly.

Last week, my Sponsor and I completed Step 7, Step 8 and Step 9. Step 7, I did alone, asking my Higher Power to “remove shortcomings”. For a long time I didn’t know what it meant by “shortcomings”. I later learned, it simply means those defects of character (on Step 4) that can be removed quickly. I trust my Higher Power will do that, when I’m ready, while other defects may take longer, even a lifetime. Step 8, I made my amends list based on my list in Step 4 (moral inventory) and talked with my Sponsor about how I was going make my amends to such people. Step 9, making those amends, may not happen all at once. It may take years or they may never happen and I may have to find an alternative way (“a living amend”) to make such amends.

If you’ve been following me, I use the following analogy to explain the steps:

Think of the 12 Steps as a house; we are relearned to rebuild our lives. Steps 1 through Step 3, is our foundation; if we do not have a solid foundation or there is a crack in it, our house is going to fall down (relapse). Step 4 through Step 9 is like building a new frame, getting new plumping and electrical, etc.; we have looked at our part in our past, recognize we have faults (defects of character), but are willing to “set things right” (amends). Lastly, Step 10 through Step 12, we put on a new roof, fill our house with new things (new behaviors) and open the front door for others to come in (sponsorship and helping others).

With that in mind, I talked to my Sponsor about sponsoring others. We both felt confident at this point in time I was ready. Our recovery community is small with a halfway house, so those willing or who can sponsor are extremely limited. The point is I would not be only helping myself but helping others which ideally is in part what Alcoholics Anonymous is all about – “Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety (AA Preamble)”. Lastly, once I put that out there, I already have an individual to sponsor.

The “community” has asked that a person with six months sobriety or more chair meetings. A majority of those with long term sobriety attend meetings in surrounding areas but do occasionally, some regularly, drop in but they have no interest in chairing the meeting. Then there are those who have more than six months, who just don’t want to chair meetings – period. It’ s becoming a regular schedule for me to chair, on average, of four meetings a week. Unfortunately, I can’t get any relief. Two groups are part of my home group (Wednesday and Saturday), one group I started two months ago (Friday night) and Sunday night people tend to insist if no one else runs it, I do it even grudgingly. However, it honestly gives me time to sit, listen and reflect (relax in a way) of where I’ve been and where I am now. In a way its my time out but can be overwhelming responsibility if I let it get to that point.

We also had a local AA District business meeting this past weekend. I volunteered for two positions. The district website and the registrar. Neither are overwhelming, if I choose not to overwhelm myself. For instance, the website hasn’t been updated in a while. My own selfishness wants to bring everything up to date. Really? If anything, what are two things most important to a person who visits an AA website? One, a list of local meetings. Two, local recovery events. In all honesty, the rest of the information on the website doesn’t matter to most visitors (it shows in the statistics). There is no need to overhaul or change it – this is what “I” want to do, my own selfishness. Instead, I need to concentrate on being useful to others.

*** Break time – went to meeting and guess who chaired – LOL **

The point to my whole rambling is as an addict I could complicate all this like the cliche, “Making a mountain out of a molehill”. It is only through my experiences, if I do can become insane. Instead, I take one thing, one day at a time. What really is important is my sobriety today? Keeping things simple in my life instead of living in a chaotic mess. With that comes much gratitude. I can enjoy the little things in life – my new freedom and happiness.

Someone is Talking to You

Last week a co-worker confided in me he got a DUI.  He took an opportunity to pull me aside, knowing I am open with my recovery, stating, “Mike, I don’t believe in the 12-Step program but I can’t continue to live like this . . .” We had a good conversation of where he is now and, if he chooses to, what can be done to stop the insanity currently controlling his life. A couple days later, he contacted me asking if we could go to a meeting. Last night, I took him to a meeting where he lives (about an hour drive from me). The experience showed him how the program works.

We arrived at a small church in this small town proceeding downstairs to the basement. Immediately, as in AA fashion, people greeted us knowing we were “out of towners”.  Before the meeting, we chatted with others for a bit and between ourselves about the program. My intuition (my HP) was telling me this was going to be a good meeting.

After the typical Preamble, 12 Steps, 12 Traditions and Promises readings, a topic was decided – the importance of meetings. It couldn’t have been a better topic for the both of us! My friend didn’t know it at the time but I hadn’t been to a meeting myself in a couple of months.

At the tail end of the meeting, the chairperson asked, “Would the person from Binghamton like to speak?” I obliged by recounting how people who already spoke brought a message to me. Several people spoke about how they missed meetings and relapsed. They all had their own excuses, as I recounted mine saying, “I’m too busy and don’t have time.” I explained how a person with 10 years of sobriety, lost it in a minute due to lack of meetings. Another had seven days of sobriety after a recent relapse, again because of a lack of meetings. I too could be both those people – all because I didn’t go to meetings. “Someone is talking to me, my HP and I need to listen and do the right thing!”

Afterward, my friend and I went to Denny’s for dinner. I answered several questions but felt I was bombarding him with program information perhaps he wasn’t ready for right now. Instead, he was thankful for me driving all the way, taking him to a meeting and showing him how the program really works. I guess WE gave him a first good impression.

We have already talked about going to another meeting here in the next couple of days. We both have to find out what our schedules are at work and try to coordinate a good date and time. Meanwhile, he got a recent meeting list and I “suggested” he try to get to at least a meeting a day. However, if he couldn’t, for whatever reason, to call me or pull me aside at work. I would be more than willing to talk to him about events going on in his life.

So the ball is in his court. I have done my part. It is my hope he continues his journey.

 

 

Full Circle

Yesterday I had an appointment to view some property in Van Etten, NY. As I drove to my destination, I went through Spencer, NY. I was flooded with memories of the times at the end of my drinking days. All I could do to stay on the road was to keep wiping my eyes from the flood of tears coming down my cheeks. It’s interesting how things have come full circle.

I can remember months before my sobriety date in 2007. I was drinking at least a 30 pack of Milwaukee’s Best lager or more. It was only $7.00 for a 12 pack or $15 for a 30-pack with a short trip to Pennsylvania. The things I did to get beer.

As I passed a certain road, I remember the all day trip it took me just to get my beer. Four miles of road took me an hour and a half one way, so THREE HOURS total. I would buy a 12-pack at the store, go back home and by the time I hit my front door, I have a couple cans left. I would take a nap and go back into town to get another 12-pack for the night. Absolute insanity.

Meanwhile, my rent was three months late. My landlord was threatening to throw me out. I didn’t have a job. My unemployment had run out in November. I had no fuel for heat, so I was running to a gas station to get 2 gallons of kerosene every day too. I couldn’t even think of food. My refrigerator was empty. In the last couple of days, I couldn’t remember the last time I took a shower because I had used all the propane, so I had no hot water either. It was a miserable experience.

Now it has come full circle. I’m full of emotions because that was who I was at the time. Today I’m 150% a different person. I am a responsible adult who pays his bills on time, is not in threat of eviction or lack of basic services. I have transportation and a well paying job. I am committed to traveling the path I am on with sobriety. But don’t think the journey has ended.

I’m beginning, yet another, new chapter in my life.  As I search for a new home closer to work, new stresses will begin to pop up I’m sure. Yes, there will be bumps in the road. But in the end, I’ll survive without grabbing for a drink.

Now I have this song in my head:  https://youtu.be/fCR0ep31-6U