Today marks twelve years of sobriety for me. One hundred and forty-four months, four thousand three hundred and eighty-four days, one hundred and five thousand two hundred and one hours, approximately.
How did I do it? Honestly, no idea. I mean, I didn’t. I do believe in a higher power, and I believe in grace. I think that we all get grace, and some of us grab onto the flimsy branch and hold on for dear life, and some of us don’t. But there were plenty of times when I wasn’t holding on very tightly. And still I stand here. I may never understand.
Between two and four years sober my recovery program was definitely questionable. I went to very few meetings, I had a long distance sponsor who I spoke with infrequently and I didn't do anything to help other alcoholics. I was severely depressed. Somehow ‘God’ brought me back. Watching my then boyfriend get sober for the first time, it made me jealous. My higher power definitely plays on my defects. And I finally became willing to do something different. I started working a program again and my life bloomed immensely.
At seven years sober, so many things changed in my life that I felt like I was drowning. I didn’t want to drink, but I didn’t know what to do with my depression, all the normal things like meetings, and talking to my friends and sponsor and prayer were just not giving me much relief. Out of pure desperation I threw myself into helping another alcoholic. It was like taking a shower and washing the self pity off. It was amazing.
At eleven years I was drifting. Having been active in my recovery for several years, it was strange how I just floated out there. My homegroup had become an all men’s group, after six months of being the only woman there, I decided to leave in search of a place where I could be of service to women in recovery. But I didn’t join another group. My sponsor and I had been having issues, I had gotten to a place where I no longer felt like I could confide in her. But I didn’t find another sponsor. I just called her irregularly and disclosed very little of my life.
After several months of this, I recognized that I was drifting. I could feel the fabric of my recovery pulling at the seams. It was a physical discomfort. I did nothing. I would have thoughts - the ones people warn you about - maybe this is a cult of the weak minded...Do I really believe in a higher power?...Do I need a program still?... Am I even really an alcoholic? I didn’t give a lot of latitude to to these, but nonetheless they were far more prevalent than they had been in many years, and they scared me.
Fortunately I was still connected to people. They jokingly and lovingly called me out. I am truly grateful, because they reminded me. Funny thing is, again my higher power knows my weaknesses and has a wonderful sense of humor. As I began coming up to my twelfth anniversary, I knew that if I did not have a homegroup, I would not pick up a chip, which I would be fine with, but I knew my friends would not. That would be far to embarrassing. My pride could not handle it. I picked a homegroup, the meeting I had been attending regularly for months. It felt amazing. Even though I had lots of qualms about the group - because that’s how I am - the simple action of joining was me participating in my recovery once again. On a high from my homegroup choice, I decided I was on a roll. I would get a new sponsor too.
One Tuesday night a few weeks after I joined the group, I decided it would be the night. There were two women at my homegroup who I had been eyeing for sponsorship. Granted I had lots of ideas about why they may not be good sponsors for me, but I chose to ignore that voice. At the end of the meeting the two women raised their hands for sponsorship. I knew the one I wanted. I had wanted her since the beginning. I asked her and we met the next day. As I was driving home from her house, feeling loved and hopeful, I realized that she had been there the whole time. That while I had complained about the lack of sober women around, she had always been there. She had remembered my name since I first started coming to that meeting. Always greeting me warmly, and sharing her experience strength and hope in meetings. I just didn't want to act.
I am so grateful that my higher power knows me and loves me enough to guide me even when I don’t know if I want guidance. As I reflect on some of those negative thoughts I was having a few months back, I realize that there is no right or wrong to them. Perhaps I don’t need this program, though I believe I do, but the thing is that everytime I use Unity, Fellowship, and Service as my guides, I have always been happier, more fulfilled, more serene. So, for today, I will choose recovery, because today I have been given the gift of choice.
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