One Step at a Time – Gerald E_Lifeline Jan 2020

It was 1981. I had recently just turned 20 years old. I open the door of the Alcoholic Recovery Center (A.R.C.). I had just got out of jail on the other side of the parking lot. I was sentenced to 120 days for alcohol related charges. 60 days in jail and 60 days at A.R.C. Little did I know as I stood there wondering why I was there, that I would be fighting this obsession of the body and the mind 38 years later in a Prison cell. The struggle is real.
In the program I was introduced to the A.A. program. The meeting was smoky and everyone was drinking coffee. Talking about how they were in a better place in their lives with what they call the 12 steps. I heard a man say “You’re an alcoholic if your life becomes unmanageable.” I’ve always remembered that. Yet, I thought I managed my life just fine, I wasn’t hurting anyone, and I had no one to hurt.
The Center had a Doctor. They wanted me to take Antabuse. He checked me out and told me I had an enlarged liver at 20 years old from drinking too much and I could not take the Antabuse. So, here I was in an Alcohol Recovery Center 20 years old, hearing a man say my life was unmanageable, others talking about some step bullshit, and me standing there, my life is just fine. Had I had the courage, desire and discipline to work those 12 steps right, then and now, my whole life of feeling worthless and not belonging would have changed.
Right now at this moment, 38 years later, I think back of the gift of sobriety. I had the path all laid out for me. Those 12 steps, that program, those people. All of it right there, where I’m trying to get back to now. Yet instead of working the 12 steps and making that choice of change, I chose to take the 13 step. My whole life spent seeking false validation of self-worth and belonging. Jim Beam and Jack Daniels were my only friends. I have never had a friend my whole life. My addictions have ensured that. I am a fake and a fraud, trying to be someone I am not. Acting as if others like me when they don’t. Always pretending I belong. Always messing things up. I recently tried to fool myself that I could belong and tried to cultivate a friendship strictly on admiration and respect, something I never had. However, all those addictive compulsive behaviors, character defects and diarrhea of the mouth as always showed me I can’t be a part of that world. I’m 58 close to 59 and my life long feeling of the only place I belong is life in a bottle or the pipe. I wonder as I work daily on these defects if I will ever stop being sick. I’m broke busted and disgusted.
I’m going to do my personal inventory and want to extend my most heartfelt apology if I offended anyone in anyway. I was simply trying to be someone I’m not and I blew it. I’m sick of being afraid and I’m tired of hustling my self-worth. I long for genuine connection. I have only thought I would find it in false bottles and wrong places. As I work the 12 steps on a daily basis, I recognize these faults. I have several compulsive behaviors, use self-defeating words and thoughts and can be self-centered. I fall down and my face is in the dirt.
As I reach for the 12 steps to give me the courage to keep trying, one step at a time. Usually with all my problems I’m facing right now, serious issues, the loss of a crazy dream of finding meaningful friendship, I just quit. But that’s not what courage is. Courage is being able to stand up and say I have flaws. I’m not what I pretend to be. I’m the man in the bottle and pipe saying, I never have to be in this spot again as long as I get up, dust myself off, wipe the regret off my face and take that next step. Be accountable and explore the consequences of my choices. Own my story, live my values of integrity and honesty and keep suiting up and showing up.
My spirituality will get me there. Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to one another by a power …greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and belonging. I know that grace will take me places hustling can’t.
So here I stand, accountable for my undesirable defects, reaching my hand out of addiction for friendship with the 12 steps of my path of worthiness one step at a time. On my own I’m a nobody stuck in the world of addiction. With the A.A. program I’m not alone. I can matter. I can own my story, take a step away from it, stop living it, and write my new ending. One step at a time. I will take another 24.
-With gratitude, Gerald E.

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