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Nov 13

don’t leave before the miracle happens

“If, like me, you happen to drink again and are fortunate enough to return to AA, you may find that there is a little less hope and a little less of the magic than you first experienced. I was one of those who bounced in and out of AA for quite some time. I was never sober for more than three weeks at any one time and that only occurred once. Each time I returned, there was less and less of the magic.” p. 53 AA Grapevine book:  In Our Own Words

this passage comes from an Alcoholics Anonymous Grapevine booklet…it is a collection of stories from young members in the program…i so relate to this story…doing the math the other day, i realized i have spent half of my life coming in and out of the rooms…i was eighteen years old when i first came into a meeting, and i am 36 today…my current sobriety date is 12-3-2007, and it is the longest i have ever gone without taking a drink or a drug…i have picked up 1 year chips a few times…2 year chips twice…and a whole bagful of 18 month, 9 month, 6 month, 3, 2, and 1 month chips…not to mention all of the Desire Chips i have pocketed…we could have a poker game with all of the chips i have collected over the years

at one point, in a previous period of sobriety, i had decided not to get chips anymore…i didn’t see how picking up another chip was that much of an accomplishment for me, since i had gone back out so many times…i didn’t want to be applauded for something i had failed to do time and time again…then my sponsor told me something that i have never forgotten since…he said, ‘we don’t pick chips up for ourselves, we pick them up for the newcomers out there to show them that long-term sobriety is possible”…and i find that to be true today…there are people that walk into our rooms that can’t even fathom staying 2 years clean, much less 2 weeks…multiple years of sobriety probably appear too far out of their reach, but watching another member whom they can relate to pick up a 30 day or 60 day chip?…that seems more attainable, and may provide them with the hope they need to keep on keeping on

i never intended on being a chronic relapser when i came to this program…i figured i was done…i remember even telling myself and others that i would most likely die if i returned to the drink and drugs…a couple years later, when i had gone back out again, i understood that i had shorted myself…i still had a good bit of drinking and getting loaded in me…and besides, would the threat of early death really stand in the way of a suffering addict/alcoholic in the grips of his illness?…i thought not…no, if i am hellbent on getting high and drunk, nothing can change my mind…i have made a decision…however foolish or tragic it may be, i have placed myself in a position where not even the most horrible consequences enter my mind to deter me

coming back in after a spell, binge or relapse is never easy…when i came in this time on Dec. 3rd, hell, i didn’t even want to stop drinking…my life was miserable…i couldn’t drink at home…my marriage was on the rocks…i was a horrible father and employee…i drove around drinking and visited sordid places with a sick hope that i would end up in jail, or a horrible accident would claim me…i remember being very angry…i didn’t want to come back to the group i had grown up in and face those people once more…how embarrassing is that?…i had shared my story many, many times with these folks…like my wife, they have watched me get sober and drunk, drunk and sober, over and over again…i didn’t want to be one of these sore, hanger-on’s at groups that i frequently came into contact with…but, i had no choice…if i were going to salvage what was left of Christmas time, i was going to have to give sobriety another go…plus, i just wanted my wife off of my back

walking in the group on that 3rd day of December, 2007 i saw a familiar lady’s face sitting at the table…with my head low, she turned around and caught my eye…she said “welcome home, son”…and although i resented what she told me at that moment, today i understand she was completely right…the rooms of a 12-step program are my home…you are my people…we are family…and we should never judge the ones we love with conditions…we are drunks and addicts…getting loaded is what we do…sobriety isn’t easy…if it were, many of us would have sobered up long ago…and who would need a program anyway, if it were that easy?…it is hard to maintain our spiritual condition and practice these principles in all our affairs…so, the next time you see that guy or gal come into the meeting for the upteenth time to shakily pick up the desire chip, look up at them with a thoughtful eye…smile warmly and tenderly touch their shoulder, shake their hand, or embrace them with a hug and say, “welcome home…we are so glad you are back!”