Morning, late morning. Where was I? Where have I been? What have I been doing? Oh happy day. I still have my wallet with the credit cards and my driver’s license. How did this happen again? Ten years of “how did this happen.” “It happened” because I am an alcoholic trying to manage his disease.
After all, isn’t that what we alcoholics in our cups do best? Promise and pledge that we will never take another drink, rely on our own self will to manage our alcoholism and then manage to get drunk all over again. For a practicing alcoholic, getting drunk without really knowing why is not rocket science.
I promised my wife of thirty years. I promised my five children. I promised my friends and law partners. I promised my home group. No, I would never drink again. But I did, and I woke up in a strange city, in an unknown hotel with a set of keys to a car and had no idea of its whereabouts. Looks like I will have to wait until the credit card statement comes so I can piece together the places where I had been and the things I had been doing for the past three days. Another broken set of promises. Another round of thirty day, sixty day, and maybe a ninety day chip.
I was told by the members of my home group to “keep comin’ back.” So I did. Those three words and the simple act of coming back to a meeting saved my life. I did keep coming back and the home group kept taking me back. The group asked me, “Do you think you have a problem with alcohol, and do you have a desire to quit drinking?” I said “yes” to both questions. “Then keep coming back.” So I did. In all reality I had no better option other than to die an unnecessary and tragic death, another statistic victimized by that bone crushing juggernaut of a disease.
“Keep coming back.” I was welcomed back into the fellowship of A.A. and all of the A.A. groups that I attended on and off for over ten years. My hand reached out, and fortunately, the hand of A.A. latched on. During this time, my family, my home froup and my sponsor never gave up on me. I would take a thirty day chip here, a ninety day chip there and other chips upward to two years, but would always react to the insane idea that I could manage my drinking my way. This “disease of self” was killing me. So for ten years of “again and again” I would go out and wrestle with “John Barleycorn.”
Then one day an old timer took me out on a twelve step call to visit someone who had reached out for the hand of A.A. I was told by that old timer that for today we were responsible to be that hand. We had “a wet one.” After talking him into handing over the shot gun that was lying underneath his chair, we got him to go to a local VOA detox facility. I never saw him again. I don’t know what became of him.
That was over twenty years ago and I haven’t had a drink since. I read the Big Book with a better understanding. I prayed to God to help me find His will for me and grant me the power to carry out that will. No more “my will be done” prayers. I worked the Steps with a sponsor. I went to meetings and did not drink in between those meetings. I did what I was asked to do. In short, I turned the management of my alcoholism over to God and the fellowship of A.A. where I found a “day at a time” solution to my alcoholism.
To my surprise, the cravings went away. Not all at once, and there was not a singular defining moment where I can say that the compulsion to drink went away. But I can say that any time the thought of taking A drink comes into my head, I am able to remember what it was like to wake up in a strange town with no recollection of the “playgrounds” I had frequented.
Lucky for me that I was told to throw myself into service work, both through A.A., my church and the local lawyers bar association. I later served multiple terms as a board member and officer of my local A.A. central office where I met and worked with lifelong friends who were instrumental in helping me stay sober and balanced. I learned the value of living life on life’s terms and from avoiding trying to change today’s realities. My fighting days were over. No more reading my credit card statement to find out where I had been, what I was doing and who I was doing it with.
Today, I trust God, work on my shortcomings and help others. Today, I stay away from the “alka-logic thinking” that invites me to manage my recovery by self-serving willpower. For me it’s about gratefully accepting the grace of God and hooking on to the power of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. Today I pray for a better understanding of God’s will and ask for the resources to both accept and carry it out. No more “911 emergency prayers.” Instead, I strive to ask God to let me be part of an answer to someone else’s prayers. And yes, I tell the one who continues to reach out for the hand of A.A. to “keep coming back.” May I never let an opportunity go by to be that hand of A.A.
So, do you want to stay sober? Because staying sober, I have come to find, is easier than constantly getting sober. Where do you find the sober people? You find them where the sober people have gathered for the past eighty plus years, the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Get to those rooms and reach out for the hand of A.A. There are millions of us who stand ready to help any alcoholic who has expressed a desire to stop drinking, no matter what. No matter how many times an alcoholic with a desire to stop drinking reaches out, the hand of Alcoholics Anonymous will latch on. That is my experience for the past twenty plus 6years and it can be yours.
“Keep coming back.” There is no better option. If you find a better option, we will refund your misery and we will wish you well in all your future endeavors. In the meantime we of Alcoholics Anonymous will together continue to “…trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.”