Hi, my name is John and I am an alcoholic.
I was not even close to being comfortable admitting that.
Hi John, My outpatient group of fourteen responded.
John, how many AA meetings did you attend this week? Asked Bob, our outpatient counselor.
Very impressive, he replied.
As he went around the room there were a lot of one meeting, two meetings and a few zero meetings.
As I stated in my opening blog, everything I state is my opinion only and there is no scientific research behind it. Just years and years of observations.
There is a direct correlation between the amount of meetings you attend and your sobriety.
I attribute my long-term sobriety to many things, but attending meetings is right behind my respectful fear of the disease. My program was and is mostly a social program.
It seems as time goes on and the addiction demons are behind you the number of meetings in a week is not as important but staying active in the AA community is a must throughout the remainder of your life.
Bob also asked how we were feeling, our emotional well-being and how we were doing physically.
Physical, emotional and spiritual.
When I entered rehabilitation I was physically, emotionally and spiritually dead!
Did these counselors already know me?
At my first outpatient meeting we discussed getting a sponsor and working the steps.
I made a commitment to Angela, my counselor, that I would get a sponsor and start working with him. She also told me no girls for the time being.
No girls and your sponsor has to have more time in the program than you, Angela said.
Yes, we don’t want you getting involved in any relationship until you have some time.
Couple of months?
A year, minimum!
We’ll see about that.
There was one guy in my outpatient group who I also saw at my 7 am meeting and I sort of knew him socially.
I approached Wayne, who had 4 months of sobriety, and asked if he would sponsor me.
Your asking because I am the only person you know here.
Maybe, but will you?
Wayne and I hit it off immediately; in fact he still sponsors me eighteen years later. We were the fortunate ones. There are only a handful of people who started out when we did and are still sober.
Some have relapsed, some have died, and others have come in and out of AA.
I think I feel the worst for those who constantly struggle with the disease and get some time and throw it all away and start over. It is never out of their head.
It would be better to be a full time addict until you hit your bottom or a full person in recovery instead of half in and half out. As they say in AA, half measures does not mean you get half.
I left the outpatient meeting feeling like I accomplished something but dreaded the thought of living my life this way for the next foreseeable future.
I missed my best friend, alcohol, and it was calling my name. It wouldn’t fail me and would comfort me through these changing times.
No one would know. There was really nobody in my life at this point and I could get away with anything I wanted. Only one person would have to know and since I am that person, let’s do it.
I got in my old work truck and drove into the cold dark night towards my favorite beer store. On the way I saw a car pulled over by the local police and they were in the process of executing a sobriety test.
The woman was being made to walk a straight line.
Maybe I should rethink this. With three DWI’s, my lawyer said one more and I would definitely go to prison. I also had my driving license revoked so it wasn’t legal for me to even drive as it was.
This is what I call divine intervention. God put something in front of me that I couldn’t deny and it made me think and change my mind. A few short days ago I would have gone through with it, no matter the consequences.
I went home, prayed to God and went to bed!
The next morning I woke at 5:30 am my normal time and had coffee and thought about the mess I was in. Last night went okay but I am miserable and if this doesn’t get better in a couple of days then I am going to drink.
The shakes were almost gone at this point but I still wasn’t feeling all that great when I drove to Edgewood where the Sunriser AA meeting was held. I had been sober about a week; by far and away the longest I had not had a drink in the last twenty years.
I was recognizing that the same core group came everyday to this meeting. I saw Wayne and said Hi. I was still sitting in the back at this point not sure if I was going to run out the door or not.
All in all things were going okay. I muddled through a couple more days and then went to outpatient on a Thursday evening. My Father actually showed.
Hi Dad, fancy meeting you here.
How are you Johnny, I’ve been worried.
Thanks Dad. Everything is okay.
We separated and went to separate meetings. Dad’s meeting was like an AL-ANON meeting, (Al-Anon defines itself as an independent fellowship with the stated purpose of helping relatives and friends of alcoholics), while I attended our normal outpatient meeting.
The sessions were always three hours and after and hour and a half we assembled together.
What did you think Dad?
Some of this I knew because I did try and help your Mother but things have progressed a long way since those times. There is much greater knowledge about the disease. I have a lot to learn.
I really appreciate you being here Dad.
Johnny, I would do anything for you. I love you.
I shed a tear realizing what I almost lost.
About that time Uncle Dick showed up and said, the two Lippos.
That was a common nick named we shared because of our last name.
He went on to tell us he received a letter from my sister thanking him for saving my life and giving her brother back to her.
Another tear. I was starting to realize the damage I had caused to my family. God only knows the exact extent of the damage. Little did I know at the time that it was going to take years and years to repair the damage and some of it would never be repaired.
What an awful disease. How did I let myself get to this point after watching my Mother do the same thing?
I met Angela the next day for our one-hour one on one planned every week for twelve weeks.
How’s it going John?
Honestly Angela I am absolutely miserable and I feel awful about everything. There is not one positive thing in my life.
Don’t minimize that fact. It’s a difficult road and it is not going to get easier for a while.
What’s for a while because I am about ready to blow this whole thing off?
Who knows, only the Big Man upstairs can answer when the obsession will end. I can tell you from my many years as a counselor that the harder you work on yourself and the program the faster and better your recovery will be.
I think she lied, but I accepted her answer and told her I would work extremely hard at my program.
I made it to the weekend and wanted to celebrate. I had a cup of coffee instead and bought a chocolate cake.
I was all of a sudden devouring sweets. I never had sweets when I was drinking, ever. Now I couldn’t go a couple of hours without sugar. I asked Angela about it and she said your body is addicted to sugar because of all the sugar in alcohol. It is just craving what it was used to getting.
Sad to say I still crave sugar eighteen years later but now I understand moderation and a little sugar is a lot better than a ton of alcohol.
For the next few weeks everything went well and before I knew it I was standing in front of our Sunrisers group accepting a one-month coin from my sponsor.
Wow! I stayed sober for a full moth. Probably twenty eight days longer than ever.
My sponsor said a few words and for the first time I opened my mouth and thanked the group.
I am a big believer that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason and at this point I really had nothing intelligent to share.
A girl, Pam, turned around to me and said, that is the first time I have seen you smile and it looks good on you.
Thank you, I replied.
I had to think about that statement. I do not remember the last time I smiled or laughed. It had been years and years. I had numbed all of my feelings by self-medicating. I didn’t want to feel a thing and I was good at it.
In fact at this point all sorts of feelings and emotions were returning and they were completely foreign to me and I wasn’t sure whether to laugh, cry, or shout. I was very uncomfortable in my skin.
I need a drink!
To Be Continued