M(3), 6/20/16: The Person with the Most Sobriety Is the One who Got Up the Earliest this Morning


Hoping everyone who celebrated Father’s Day yesterday had a wonderful time doing so.

This morning’s meeting was a powerful one, surprising because summer is when we see a lower attendance.  But this morning we had 16 seats filled, and everyone had something to share.

We read from the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, where we focused on Step Seven:

Step 7:  Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings

This is a chapter that focuses on the concept of humility, and its importance in the process of recovery from addiction.  Many people equate humility with humiliation, when in fact they are more or less polar opposites.  Humility is a virtue and something to which someone would strive; humiliation is a state of abasement, and a negative emotion from which someone would steer clear.

The book we read from today (though not in the chapter we read), defines humility as:

a clear recognition of who and what we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be -Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pg. 58

This construct was an eye-opener.  I assumed because I lean heavily towards self-deprecation that I had the humility thing all wrapped up.  Clearly not when considered through the lens of this definition!

Of course, there’s lots more to this chapter, but I want to get to the discussion that followed.  The first person to share did so because she wanted to clear her mind of some dark thoughts that had taken hold.  She had been away for a week or so, and there was some stress involved in the trip.  She got home and quickly had to dive into the holiday weekend, which also involved a birthday celebration.  Out to dinner last evening, she was overcome by a powerful craving for alcohol the likes of which she had not experienced for at least two years.  It was strong enough that it made her cry, which in turn made her feel self-pity:  why, after several years of sobriety, would this kind of thing still happen?

A powerful share in and of itself, and one to which everyone could relate.

Then the next two people shared.  We had two people new to the meeting; everyone else was a regular.  The first person shared that this is his first meeting back in over two years.  Once upon a time, he was thoroughly entrenched in a 12-step program.  Then he moved, and never took the time to find a new set of meetings.  The story followed its usual trajectory:  the feeling that he could handle a few drinks, which led back to old drinking patterns, and the disease progressed as if he had never stopped drinking.

The story would have been powerful in and of itself, but directly after the share prior, wondering why a craving would hit after years of sobriety, and what giving in to the craving would actually mean, had the room silent for a moment or two.

Then the next newcomer shared, and it was a similar story, though on a shorter timeframe:  he had been sober for 63 days, the urge to drink got  stronger and stronger, and he actually said to himself while driving to the liquor store, “Well, here I go, on my way to a relapse!”  Over the weekend, he was looking through some family photos, and he noticed that in each and every one of them he was drunk.  It was the wake-up call he needed to get back to a meeting this morning.

The next share was from a regular attendee with a couple of decades of sobriety.  She is not struggling with an urge to drink; rather, she is struggling with life itself:  a 20-year old family member died in a tragic car accident over the weekend.  She did what she could to be there for her family, but she needed this meeting for herself.  She is grateful to have a place to go where she can share for feelings, and find relief in both the sharing and the empathy received.

And all this happened in the first 30 minutes!

The shares that followed all had to do with urges to drink, and how best to handle them, as well as wisdom on how best to recover from a relapse.  Two phrases, oft-repeated in the rooms of the 12-step fellowship, were shared:

I.  Addiction is cunning, baffling, powerful… and patient

This expression usually ends with the visual that our addiction is doing push-ups in the parking lot of our sobriety.  It is a simple reminder to stay vigilant, and avoid the thinking that “you’ve got this” after a period of sobriety.  Always great advice.

II.  The person with the most sobriety is the person who got up earliest this morning

I used this as the title because it stuck with me this morning, despite having heard it a million times before.  The meaning, in case it is not obvious:  it does not matter if you are sober 10 days or 10 years, all any of us really has is today.  You could broaden the scope to include anything in life, since today is all any of us ever has.  I believe the person sharing this meant it as a balm to the wounded souls of the relapsed newcomers… it’s okay, you’re sober today, I’m sober today, we’re all the same.

It’s sticking with me because, if I’m being candid (and I suppose I am since I’m writing a blog), I don’t completely agree with this sentiment.  Certainly I agree that all any of us has is the present moment, and I also agree longer time sober does not equate to being “more” sober, there are not placement awards, per se.


My time means something to me personally.  I’ve mentioned this many times before, but a turning point in my sobriety came when I chose not to chemically alter myself because I did not want to give up my time.  At six weeks sober, I did not want to reset the clock.  I am incredibly fortunate that I have not had an urge to “pick up” in a very long time, but I know with certainty that if (when) I do that a huge deterrent would be that I would be giving up my sober time.

Maybe that’s just me, and at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter.  Whatever tools keep you sober are the ones to keep on hand!

Today’s Miracle:

At the moment, blessed silence in the house while kids are at the movies.  Silence is golden!



Posted on June 20, 2016, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I often wondered why people kept going to meeting for many years.
    Didn’t you learn everything and get past all that?

    But the reality is that meetings (and blogging, for me) are a reminder of what could be. Both for the bad and the good.

    Perhaps complacency isn’t only s threat to slide back into addiction, but is also a denial of how much more growth we could experience.

    I actually had never heard your quote. I love it. We truly do only have today. Maybe sober time helps us realize just how precious those hours are. That’s why we hold them dearer.

    Thank you for this. I have not been to meeting as we are still evacuated and the meeting my husband is going to here is only men.


    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t even want to write out the judgmental thoughts I had of people attending meetings for decades… I am ashamed of them.

      I am so glad, and astounded, that I am the one to share that with you. When I say I have heard that hundreds of times, I am not exaggerating. There is a great power in it, both for sobriety and life itself.

      I am so sorry meetings are scarce. I continue to pray for you every morning, and I anxiously await updates!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m going to try hypnotherapy on Friday. My calgary therapist believes it is a step towards freeing oneself from anxiety.

        I’m open to trying, even though I’m kind of scared….she insists its not about making a person remember things they want to forget. It’s more about uncovering thoughts that persist, but aren’t helpful.

        We shall see.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I will be waiting for the post that tells us how it went, and I will be thinking of you Friday!


  2. I have never heard of this quote either.
    I know I keep my days and hours close to my heart.
    I know I could go back to day 1 if I don’t keep guard of my sobriety.
    So I keep blogging, going to meetings, talking, and listening.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This one had me at the title.
    I like that you added patient to the characteristics of this disease. It is definitely patient. It waits to strike you when you least expect it. Reading good, informed blogs like this helps keep me from a drink (I haven’t thought about it once while reading!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patient is the word that gets me these days, Mark, and I hope that it always will. Again, the push-ups in the parking lot is an oft-used visual, but for me at my stage in sobriety, it’s an effective one, always reminding me that I DON’T “got this!”

      I really appreciate the comment, Mark. Hope you are well!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you! I needed to hear this exactly. I do not want to give up my time, it’s so important to me…I had a moment tonight where it wasn’t exactly a craving, nonetheless I felt really left out of a family event where everyone was drinking and laughing…i wasnt even invited, i o ly knew because they stopped by my house at the end of the night…I had this thought where I wondered what life would be like if my home was still the fun party house…I know better but it was just one of those hard nights….Josie your words really stand out for me like a little beacon of hope…I DO NOT want to give up my precious time and progress, I’ve worked so hard for it and I am so very proud of myself….despite the mental ping-pong…I’m glad I can go to sleep tonight with another sober day under my belt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What you just described is exactly what I feel… not at any point do I “crave” a drink. I can say that because I remember a craving (also because I get cravings for food all the time ;)). But there’s this… discontented feeling that I now know has nothing to do with alcohol, but everything to do with me and my feelings. And I totally relate to the nostalgic recall of events surrounding drinking as well. I had (have) a circle of cousins who always planned a sleepover into the family party (aka risk-free drinking), and even now as I type I have very fond memories of those times. However, I can play the tape through these days, and I can also appreciate the fun I do have with those same people, and the creature comforts of my own bed at the end of it! Anyway, Jenn, sorry for the long ramble, but thanks for the comment, and know that I relate to pretty much every single thing you write, not only in comments here but on your blog as well!


  5. I treasure my sobriety above all else and would fight like a rabid dog to keep it…there’s an attractive thought for a Wednesday morning. Fear of a return to what life used to be like helps me to not pick up – it’s in my ‘sobriety toolkit’ along with going to meetings, blogging, avoiding getting hungry or tired and addressing feelings of anger and loneliness.

    My personal view is that sobriety is of the moment so ten years doesn’t trump five and quality beats quantity any day of the week. That said, we should cherish and guard what we’ve achieved and what it’s given back to us. If I take that first drink then something I’ve worked hard at for many years and prioritise over everything else, is gone in the blink of an eye. Though I’d argue that it was lost before I picked up because for me, whilst I can’t be sober unless I’m ‘dry’, sobriety is mostly about attitudes, thinking and behaviour. So there are times when my sobriety is not what it should be (even though I haven’t had a drink) and I have to stay alert to that.

    Whilst I value the length of time that I haven’t had a drink and my sobriety, I can’t afford to confuse ‘time served’ with being safe; that’s exactly what this illness wants me to do because then it would have an ‘in’ and yes, it’s very patient and cunning.

    I constantly guard against complacency but believe that sober time brings valuable experience of dealing with cravings and hyper-awareness of when our thinking/behaviour are going bad, leaving us vulnerable to relapse. Sobriety helps us to develop ‘early warning systems’ and ‘rapid response’ strategies but they’re only of use if we’re alert and willing take action.

    We all have different things in our ‘toolkit’ and that makes sense because we’re all individuals. Whatever it is, If it’s working then it’s a ‘keeper’ and please share it because it might help the rest of us. It’s good to have a selection of stuff in the ‘toolkit’ because we never know which tool we’ll need until the moment arrives. All the best, Billie.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I couldn’t have said this better myself… and I didn’t, so I’m glad you did!

    Thanks so much for the comment, Billie, I agree with every bit of it, and am grateful you took the time to write it!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi there and thanks for reading it. Have a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

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