Yesterday’s meeting fell in the midst of torrential rains, and at least 2 roads were closed nearby, so the fact that I had 3 attendees was really fantastic. Just to follow up, the woman I have been writing about did not show up. Whether that was rain-related, or something else, will remain a mystery, but suffice it to say it was a wonderfully drama-free affair!
The reading I chose for the meeting told the story of a woman who contracted cirrhosis of the liver before she was able to surrender and seek recovery (Twice Gifted, in the Big Book, in case anyone would like to read). In the story, she wrote that she was critically ill for the first year of her sobriety, but then was given the gift of a liver transplant, and, of course, life got better and better. She commented that she was grateful that her medical condition had gotten to that point, because she did feel she would have ever chosen sobriety if not.
The discussion that ensued centered around our various “bottoms,” the point at which we truly accepted that we were powerless, and thus became willing to make the changes needed to begin our recovery. Always an interesting topic, because inevitably the examples are so varied.
I know for me, I made an ineffective and feeble attempt at recovery for about 8 months before I hit my personal bottom. I was a participant in an outpatient rehab group, and I was beyond ashamed, beyond humiliated to be there. The counselor said, “I notice that you seem unable to hold you head up, or make eye contact with myself or anyone else in the group. Can you tell me why that is?” I told him that I was full of shame. He asked me why, and I admitted freely the various transgressions that had brought me to the group at that time. He then said, “I’m sorry you feel the way you do, but I want you to understand, from my perspective, these are very common admissions, and I regularly hear a lot worse.” He went on to ask me a series of questions, have you ever done this, or this, or this? The answer was consistently no, and his goal (presumably) was accomplished, I was able to engage more in the group.
Unfortunately, my time with that group did not stop me from digging quite a bit deeper before I finally put down the shovel. I don’t remember the specific questions he asked me, but I would guess to that I could not say a universal no to all of them at this point. But, as you will frequently hear in the rooms of AA, it takes what it takes.
When I look back over my active addiction with the clarity of sobriety, I can point to no less than 5 or 6 MONUMENTAL moments where I should have seen the light. Incidents that, looking back, were gigantic God moments that I completely ignored. Why, I sometimes wonder? Why was I able to grasp it in January of 2012, and not in any of those previous moments?
The answer to that question will never be satisfactorily answered in my lifetime, and I can accept that, as I have accepted the disease that is my alcoholism. Focusing on the past is possibly the most pointless waste of time, and ruins the beautiful present in which I live. At the end of the day, I am grateful for every drink, and every drug, because they led me to this moment… living soberly, appreciating the life I have never fully appreciated, establishing a relationship with God, and writing to all of you!
First, that I can focus on writing this at all. There are currently 4 screaming kids outside my window, soaking each other with a hose and loving every minute of it. That I am appreciating their merriment, that’s miracle number 2!