24 years ago today, I woke up hungover, nothing new there. What was different about that day was that I did not go to the refrigerator and grab another beer. I got out the phone book and looked up Alcoholics Anonymous. I called the first number listed, and there was no answer. I called the second number and a young man named Danny answered the phone. He was a 17 year old recovering alcoholic and was working at the club before he went to high school that day. He listened to me for a while and then he suggested it would be better for me to talk to a woman. He said he would have someone call me. Well, I was pretty disappointed about that.
Until she called me. It probably wasn't more than a couple of minutes later. Her name was Bitsy. She talked about how she struggled with believing she was an alcoholic at first because she lived on a "tree lined street." Somehow I related to her. I am not so sure why now because I certainly did not live on a tree lined street. But she had a soft sweet voice and she listened to me for over an hour before she "closed the deal" by asking me to go to a meeting with her that night. And let me tell you, that sweet little lady with the sweet little voice was not going to take no for an answer and I thank God for that because that night I went to my first meeting and I have never taken another drink since that day, July 24, 1984.
I have written a lot about my first day of sobriety. It was scary. I was shaking. I wanted that beer in the refrigerator. But Bitsy made me promise I wouldn't drink before the meeting, and so I didn't. And by the time I got home from the meeting, I didn't want the drink anymore. The next day, I got on my knees and prayed and asked God to help me and told him I was willing to do anything he wanted me to in order to stay sober.
It would take hours to write about the years in between. I can tell you that I did not get to AA and clean up my life and get all shiny and glittering in my first years of sobriety. I went to AA and listened and I am grateful they told me that I had to change everything. I did have to change everything and sometimes it wasn't pretty. I went through a divorce in my first year. I lost custody of my kids at 6 years. I married a lunatic I met at a meeting. I learned what it was to be a victim of domestic violence. I moved to Canada. I moved to Washington. I moved back to Colorado. I spent years unemployed. I got thrown out of an AA group! I beat up a 300 lb. clown! No - it wasn't pretty.
But through it all, I kept going to meetings. I kept reading the big book. I kept praying every day - asking Him in the morning and thanking Him at night. I have always had a sponsor. I have nearly always sponsored someone else. I have done my stint in the service structure of AA.
My life today is indescribably wonderful. I still have problems, anyone who has read this for a while knows this. But something changed when I got 10 years of sobriety under my belt. I got divorced from the lunatic. I got a decent job - I had to start at the bottom, but I have made it to pretty near the top in the last 14 years. I went back to school. I started college at 43 and had a master's degree by my 50th birthday. I graduated with honors from a very good university. And now I am affiliate faculty at that same university. I am about to compete in my 5th triathlon. In the last 2 years I have run 4 half-marathons. I have had the same sponsor for 12 years and we just absolutely adore one another. I sponsor women who I absolutely love. I have a host of friends in Alcoholics Anonymous. I have my family in my life. And I have my self-respect back.
These things all a gift from a loving God. I am clear on my contribution. Yes, I have had to cooperate. Yes, I have had to do some stuff. But to think I somehow "worked" for this is inconceivable to me. I think the steps are something God gives us to keep us busy... something like a mother handing a toy to a child to try to occupy the child while the mother does something for the child... and the child thinks the toy did it.
Blogging has enriched my sobriety immensely. I thank all of you for that. Including anyone who may be reading this for the first time today. I love the folks I have come to know (with one exception, sorry) and I love the folks who drop by. I love that I have met a few of you. I love that I can go to Houston and have a host of friends there! I love the folks who comment and the folks who send me a sheepish e-mail about how they want to quit drinking but don't know how. I have loved blogging. Thank You.
"Now that we're in AA and sober, and winning back the esteem of our friends and business associates, we find that we still need to exercise special vigilance. As an insurance against 'big-shot-ism' we can often check ourselves by remembering that we are today sober only by the grace of God and that any success we may be having is far more His success than ours." -- Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 92