Sunday, July 18, 2010

Long Term Sobriety

After the meeting this morning I got to chat with some very old friends. After a while, one of the men laughed and said "a lot of money was lost betting against this group staying sober." I looked around the six or seven of us standing there and had to laugh. We are all sober over a quarter of a century, I was the second to the youngest person in sobriety there.

It was funny because we were a bunch of nuts 25 years ago. There were spiritual giants amongst us, but we weren't them, and the people who looked so good then aren't sober now. I won't use names, but I will tell you a little bit about us, and see what you would think of our odds of staying sober. (initials have even been changed to protect the innocent)

A. was living with a woman he wasn't married to and very busy with many other women in AA. I guess you could call him a 13th stepper. He was pretty darn cute and very charming. He made his living in what I would call pretty shady ways. He "sold stuff" and he was good at it. He was serious about staying sober and after a while things started changing. It was a long while though. His life is exemplary today.

B. was married to a woman, but living a double life as a gay man. He worked at an adult book store at night and in the daytime went to meetings. He was serious about staying sober and after a while things started changing. He faced his sexuality and divorced his wife and started living honestly. He got a real job with insurance and everything - in the daytime. He is still sober today.

C. didn't know if she was a lesbian or not. She was doing all kinds of things with all kinds of people, including getting married and divorced - a lot. She worked for a while as a CAC at a treatment center, which was as close as she got to going completely off the deep end. But she was serious about staying sober and after a while things started changing. She is a lovely woman who is still sober today.

D. was our social director. She was very social. She had parties at her house. Her house was a bit of a sober boarding house. Lots of people lived there as they were getting sober. In her drinking and her sobriety, she had always kept her job, so she looked a lot more functional than the rest of us, but she still cried at about 90% of the meetings she attended - for many years. But she was serious about staying sober and after a while things started changing. She is my dear friend today - her life shows absolutely no signs of ever having been dysfunctional. And she remains sober.

I could go on... but you get the idea... and me? In my first year, having left my husband of ten years, I was dating a man I met in AA. A man who happened to be drinking. If I saw a new woman doing that now, I would think she didn't have a snowball's chance in hell.

We were blessed to have a new group which was at a new club. I know that people look down on clubs, but I think that club saved a lot of lives. We not only went to meetings at the group, but we hung out at the club. Most of us didn't have real jobs, so we had a lot of time on our hands. Time in which to get in lots of trouble. Maybe we got in trouble together, but we were sober. We were a very close group.

When I hear people judge sobriety and say they would rather be drunk than have "that kind of sobriety," I think they must not be the kind of alcoholic I am. I would rather have any kind of sobriety than be drinking. And I thank God that I had an opportunity to have the kind of sobriety I understood in my early years. When I could do better I did. We all did.

So, this morning, on a beautiful July morning, here we were. All of us still sober. All of us radically changed from those days. All of us profoundly grateful not only for who we are today, but what it took to get us here.

I thank God that I didn't get to AA and spin dry. I didn't just get rid of the booze and think I was just fine because it was clear I wasn't.

It was clear that I was beyond human aid.

I could not change me, but God could. And I thank him every day because he did.


Syd said...

I am glad for you and the group. I wish that more people would be sober and find the spiritual solution.

~~BRB Queen~~ said...

Nicely said.

Findon said...

Wonderful post and such a lesson to learn. Many thanks for this

Pam said...

YES! My friend B. stole the prudent reserve from our group, while sober. He came back and did it again, while sober. He now has 21 years and is a respected investment banker. Every year for the past 20 years, he has donated a case of Big Books to our county jail from "the group" as a coninued amends, and I would say that he is one of the most honest men I know. He truly wanted to stay sober. I think I said he would be living under the bridge within a year.
I'm glad you talked about this because it's foolish to believe that people just change over night but it's so rewarding to look back and see the changes.

wendy said...

"In my first year...I was dating a man I met in AA. A man who happened to be drinking. If I saw a new woman doing that now, I would think she didn't have a snowball's chance in hell."

I haven't commented in a while mostly because I've been busy with life, but partially because this is sort of my story. I didn't start dating until I had over a year, but I am in a relationship (for almost two years) with someone that does not have continuous sobriety. Sometimes it is 3 months, sometimes 2, sometimes 1, I don't know and I've accepted that it isn't up to me. In the last few months I've come to accept that some oldtimers are going to judge me and others will let me make my own decisions - but I still don't enjoy hearing about all the "mistakes" I'm making in my choices. (It got really exciting when he moved in with me late last year :) )

I'm not sure if this is the correct place to share this comment and I hope I haven't offended you. It is comforting to know that others have made decisions that were contrary to popular opinion and have learned and grown from those experiences.

Hope you have a great day.

Brad said...

I love what you said here. I think of the club in Sioux Falls with fond memories. Sure, there were many flawed individuals there, but where else can you go JUST to attend AA meetings? And in between meetings there's always someone to talk to or to get in trouble with!

♥ Brad

AnyEdge said...

Love this post. My sponsor (!) didn't think I had a chance in hell when I showed up. Ha. Showed that fucker. I still call him up every night to remind him I'm sober.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for pointing the way...

Annette said...

This post made me cry. A lot of hope there. Really really beautiful. The part that struck me was that everyone didn't find their way to AA and change right away and everything was perfect. It took a long long time of changing and working a was a *process* of choices and responses and learning new ways of doing things and applying those lessons. It was about imperfect human's learning new ways to live. The common denominator was that you all wanted to stay sober more than anything else. This was very meaningful to me today. Thank you so much for posting.

Mia M. said...

amazing how God works his miracles. thanks so much for sharing these stories.

Bobby said...

Finding a group of people who support you is valuable no matter if you are in recovery or not.However if you are in recovery then it is even more crucial to find the strength of others to pull you through the tough times. Usually alcoholics, even in sobriety, have trouble connecting with others. I have known A.A. to save more than one soul that needed help. Thanks for the post.

that girl said...

i could not change me, but god could. such faith, i envey this in people. good for you all!

Mary LA said...

This post says so much to me about the desire to get sober, really wanting to stay sober.