M(3), 9/7/15: Making the Impossible Choice of Sobriety

Happy Labor Day to all my fellow Americans.  Wait, come to think of it, happy Labor Day to all my friends!

Any meeting day that is also a holiday is a crapshoot in terms of attendance.  I didn’t count, but surely we were on the low side of average today.  I selected a story that we read exactly a year ago.  It is called “Physician, Heal Thyself” and it is found in the book Alcoholics Anonymous.  It is a story of a person with a high bottom; the author was a very successful surgeon who claims to have made more money is his last year of drinking than he ever had before or since.  His marriage was never in jeopardy, he was beloved by all.  To use his expression, his was the skid row of success, which is just as miserable as the skid row in any city.

In order to select that story, I needed to research back through this blog to see what I read last September.  In doing so, I read over the blog and the subject matter discussed, and I considered that on the way over to this morning’s meeting.  The general discussion then was how to choose sobriety when you are unconvinced or unwilling to accept that alcohol is a problem.

In reflecting upon that theme, I remembered a woman sharing about this subject when I was new to the program.  She said that even though she was 5 years sober (at the time), even though she was a regular attendee of our 12-step program, even though she had experienced miracles as a result of successfully working the steps… even with all of this information, she still will, once in a blue moon, get that thought, “Maybe it wasn’t all that bad.  Maybe I’m not really an alcoholic.”

Everyone in the room chuckled that day.  My own reaction, not knowing the woman particularly well, was to smile and nod, but think it an unrelatable story for me.  At less than a year sober (at the time), and happily sitting on the pink cloud of early sobriety, I scoffed at the idea I would ever forget what brought me into the rooms.

Now, of course, I know better than to scoff at anything, and, of course, in the years that followed, I have had those snatches of insanity… was it really that bad?  Would it be the end of the world if I drank again?  Fortunately, staying connected with a sober support network, both in the “blogosphere” and in the live world, helps me to play that tape through, and reach the logical conclusion that it makes more sense to stay sober.

So anyway, that was my thought process, and what I figured I might share once we read the story.

Five minutes after the meeting started, the woman who made the comment that started this thought process entered the meeting.  I have seriously not seen this woman in well over a year, maybe closer to two years.

I’m telling you, I can’t make this stuff up!

Aside from having the wonderful experience of reconnecting with an old friend, we had a newcomer at the meeting.  It took him some time to share, but when he did, it was powerful:  he had just left rehab on Friday, and today he has a family function where drinking will take place.  He is conflicted about so much, and the mere thought of attending this function cost him an entire night’s sleep.  He does not know what to do.

When I hear stories of this nature, I am immediately transported back in time, back to when I was trying and failing to stay sober.  My core belief at that point was that nothing in my life need change just because I’m not drinking.  Of course I will attend drinking family functions, why wouldn’t I?  As long as I don’t drink, what possible difference could it make?  How could I explain to husband/kids/mom/aunts/uncles/cousins why I was not present?

What would they do without me?

When written out like that, and with a small bit of sobriety under my belt, the illogic of that paragraph is obvious.  But to the gentleman sitting in that meeting this morning, not so much.  In speaking with him afterwards, he said, “But I want to spend time with my wife and son, and they want to spend time with the larger family, what can I do?”

In early days, it all seems so impossible.  The reality is, the time frame of chaos, uncertainty and fear, when contrasted against the timeframe of your life, is really quite short.   It seems inconceivable to put something like recovery in front of things like spending time with your spouse and child, or a family obligation.  But once you make that choice, what you come to realize is that in a very short period of time you will have it all, you will have those blessings and so many more in a way you cannot even imagine.

And all you have to do, just for today, is put your sobriety first.  Whatever that means for you:  skipping one family picnic, or taking your own car so you can get out if it gets too tense, attending a meeting, sharing what’s on your mind.

That newcomer will be on my mind today, and I’m hoping he is able to do what he needs to do, today, to stay sober.

Today’s Miracle:

Heading to a baseball game today.  The entire family looking forward to the same event at the same time, especially when two of those family members are teenagers… that is a miracle!

Posted on September 7, 2015, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. That is a miracle! Lol I love these Monday posts. I figured AA leaders would get the day off. How wonderful you were there for those people.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy labour day. It’s labour day in Canada too (notice the spelling, lol).
    I love how these small serendipitous happen. Thank you for sharing that!

    Part of that initial refusal to change everything is that impossibility that we could be an alcoholic. Of course, it must all just be a mistake. Just a bit of a bad habit. Just depression. Just stress. Just a bad life. Just a good life, etc.

    Whenever people face big events that they seem to want to attend, I try to encourage them to tell their family how scared they are. I bet that mans wife and son would love to support him. Would be honoured to help him. As would the rest of his family.

    These are the small moments of vulnerability that can set us up for huge success.

    It is very hard to show weakness. To admit to an addiction. To fear. But there is so much to be gained by doing so. Others often respond by sharing their own weakness and bonds are formed.

    And if they don’t, you quickly realize you have been worried about impressing someone who doesn’t deserve your effort.

    Have a great day!


    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that spelling it seems more dignified somehow! I hope you enjoyed your holiday as much as I enjoyed mine.

      And how true your observation is… that is EXACTLY why I refused to change. I can handle, and the subtext is “because I don’t have that much of a problem.”

      Love this, Anne, hope all is well!


  3. Happy Labor Day to you, too 😉 Hoping the young man was able to get thru the family function ok. Family get togethers can be so hard, especially in those early days. I think putting recovery first is a great investment because it saves(or heals) our relationships in the long term!

    Liked by 1 person

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