Wow, in 10 days I’ll have strung together seven years of continuous days without drinking. With this impending milestone at the forefront, I’d like to share with you my experience, strength and hope of recovery, self-discovery and living seven years without alcohol.
There are four AA slogans repeated in every meeting that I held resentments toward for several sober years but over time they have transitioned into life savers for me. And, I do mean LIFE savers!
The mercurial seas, always churning and constantly changing. Periods of calm followed by impressive storms and then back to calm. Sounds like sober living to me…with a big ole iceberg in my downward path, no matter what course correction I made. Aware of this iceberg, I believed that if I just start attacking what I could see, then what I couldn’t see buried beneath, would just somehow go away. Like my bill paying method. Put them in a draw and they no longer exist. Of course, it doesn’t work that way. Nor does sobriety. I learned that I had to uncover and address the entire iceberg – bit by bit. For me, it was and still is, the uncovering and discovery of my character defects, the acceptance of those defect and the summoning and mobilizing the courage to take action.
I understand that ideal learning and retention takes place during two heightened emotional states, when we are happy and when we are sad. For the past seven years, I experienced a lot of pain and suffering with some happiness along the way. Through the pain and suffering, self-discovery then mindfulness, I have learned a lot! And through all that learning, I have predominantly learned that I have only removed the tip of the iceberg. Going forward, I am excited and open to being teachable. There is hope for a still better future, a more complete self, and I am humbled and grateful for the people in my life that will guide me there as long as I remain willing.
Seven years ago, I couldn’t even make it into the rooms of AA without taking a resentment. They had alcoholics stationed at the door who would greet you with a big WELCOME as you approached. They even gave you a hug sometimes, if you happened to let you guard down. I resented that. It didn’t matter if it was audible or otherwise, I resented the welcome. The voice in my head told me to be on guard, they’re not as happy as they are projecting and they are here only to suck the remaining life from you and be thankful that they are not you. Twisted and insane thinking. That was me.
Today, I enjoy a hearty welcome, a handshake and a smile when there are alcoholics at the entrance of the meeting rooms. After all, it is customary to welcome a new person; be it at your home, place of business, etc. Today when we welcome the newcomers at meetings, I say a silent little prayer…”Hope you stay, don’t die if you don’t”! I have seen the later too much.
Resentment number two..”Keep coming back”! Immediately the voices in my head would go into overdrive, offering up, in a whiny mocking voice…keep coming back, keep coming back. They need a fresh supply of newcomers to plug into and drain their energy to keep their own sobriety. But I kept coming back, alert and on guard. And, I did one thing perfectly each time I untethered myself from AA….I didn’t drink NO MATTER WHAT! Not drinking allowed me to come back each time with a clearer head and a hopeful heart.
Resentment number three…:You must take contrary action”. Huh, are you shitting me! You’re saying that my thinking is 100% off and that you want me to trust YOU! I remember thinking “that will never F’ing happen.” Pain and suffering, however, have a way of getting you to do things you wouldn’t normally do. I picked up the phone and called five people to run my latest crisis of conscience past. All five people I checked with…ALL FIVE…offered a response that was opposite of mine. So I threw those names out and got a new list of five people. That’s not true. I have learned that when my thinking goes bad, I cannot think my way out of bad thinking. That voice in my head is in overdrive…you pussy, you couldn’t buck up be a man and make your own decision. You’re weak! You have no confidence in your own abilities, when are you going to learn to rely on yourself,and on and on an on, spiraling seep into self-pity, self-loathing, self-hatred with a brutal and punishing voice. I rely on others opinion these days. When they dispatch their advice, I follow it. This has made a huge impact to my life.
Resentment number four. “You must work with others”. Ugh! That is an doable suggestion. I must seek out those who need help. And in doing so, I also help myself. I’ve learned something very valuable along the way. When I am engaged and helping another struggling alcoholic, I experience a new-found freedom of joy and happiness. Who could argue against that! Resentments gone. Iceberg gone!