Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Birthday Musings

I remember when I had thirty days of sobriety. No one was offended if I talked about that. I was awestruck that God had done this thing for me that I could never have done for myself. I had never been sober that long in all the years since I started drinking at the age of 14. Eighteen years of drunkenness was over! I knew it, and I was thrilled.

When I had one year, I got a beautiful bronze coin with a roman numeral "I" on it. It was beautiful. I spoke at a meeting with other friends who were also celebrating their birthdays. No one was offended if I expressed my utter and complete joy at having such a gift given to me.
But now I am creeping up on my 27th AA anniversary. And I find that I can't talk about that without raising the hackles of people. I mentioned it at the meeting on Sunday and was quickly rebutted by some young man who carried on about "not caring about how long he has been sober, but caring about the quality of his sobriety, we only have today, etc." I seem to get that a lot lately, so mainly I just keep my trap shut. Unfortunately, a sponsee called me last night, devastated that this young man got drunk - again - and he may be one of those people whose funeral we all attend and mourn.

About a year ago, in a friend's last conversation with me, he said that I never failed to tell people how long I have been sober. He said it was in my blog every single day. I went back and looked at my blog and it wasn't there. Why would he think it was? And why would that offend him so?

I talked with my sponsor about this. I got no sympathy from her. She is sober 38 years and says she faces misunderstanding every day. People seem to take joy in taking pot shots at her. I have seen it happen. It is just ridiculous. She told me to not expect that people would understand me, and just go from there.

I have the same "by golly, gosh, gee whiz!!!" feeling about 27 years as I had about thirty days or one year. I want to jump for joy and shout - "Do you see what God did for me? I have gotten to live most of my adult life as a sober person!!! Can you believe it? Me? Sober? It is a miracle on par with the parting of the Red Sea!"

Do I think that my years always make me right? Nope. And I think most of the people I have interactions with know that. Do I think they guarantee I will never have a drink again? Nope. I still rely on the Grace of God and cooperate with that in every way I can. Do the years mean I can "rest on my laurels?" No siree. (what do you get when you rest on your laurels? wrinkled laurels.)

Thank God I have close friends who do understand me. I have a sponsor I love. I have sponsees who seem to "get" me. I am grateful for all of these.

And the totally undeserved gifts that God has given me. Incredible!


Mary LA said...

Twenty-seven years of continuous sobriety is a breathtaking miracle. Love to you Mary Christine.

dAAve said...

I'll bet that it's chronic relapsers who have a problem with someone's long-time sobriety.

I think consecutive time sober is important for me so I won't have to go through detox over and over again. It's only with the clarity of thought that comes with long-term sobriety that I can enjoy all the fruits of recovery.

Syd said...

It might be the instantaneous gratification behavior of wanting what you have--right now. It is probably all about ego for those who bash your time or you. I can't change another's opinion of me. I don't try. They will say and think what they will. You are doing the real deal every day. That is a good thing.

Jeremy said...

Congrats! I admire your journey greatly.

susanm said...

Hey Mary Christine, thanks for your blog. I will have to push myself to sound real in meetings, because I can run the trip on myself that I can't be honest about situations( angry, upset, confused) or people will judge my sobriety. Sometimes I don't like to mention the amount of time that I have, because it seems so unreal to the newcomer, who can identify much more easily with 1 or 2 years sober, rather than my 24 years. And, most importantly, the longer I am sober, the more I understand one day at a time. Finally it is just so much simpler to keep it in today. I am lucky in that my home group includes a number or old timers and well as a bunch of newcomers, and we all feel pretty valued. Seeing the kind of trouble that I can get in in sobriety, often with years of program time under my belt keeps me pretty humble and keeps me coming back, to meetings and the steps. I read your blog every morning; I look forward to it. Your sober sister, susanm

Ms Jones said...

Unfortunately I am one that just about a week ago asked you the same thing. No way did I want you to think I did not absolutely adore what you say and who you are. You have never seemed unkind at all. Medallions are awesome even to those of us that had to do some more research. I value today and know that it is God's mercy and grace that got us here and keeps us here. MC- thank you for keeping on, no matter what. Where would "we" be if you old timers just gave up on "us"? Uh uh, Not me.


KarenR1213 said...

Congrats on 27 years!!! When people say how long they've been sober, it gives me inspiration to keep going. I clap loud for all the birthday celebrators.

I once had the privilege of being at a birthday celebration of a man who had 50 years sober!!! 50!!!! I was about 6 months sober at the time, and I thought "I'll never live that long!" But to be alive and sober and make it to 50 years sober? A MAJOR miracle. And that guy was happy. I want to die happy and sober.

Anonymous said...

Total hogwash these individuals dish out. And to be fair, its merely their opinion and typically a product of group-think within the local AA community.

I am a big believer in celebrating the snot out of a birthday because we deserve the right to have joy in celebration in our lives. Our soberversaries are the day that we were reborn. So you just keep on celebrating.

Anonymous said...

I keep toying with the idea of starting an "oldtimers" meeting.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

YAY GOD!!! YAY Mary Christine!

I have never received anything from your blog or your participation in all of these blogs other than encouragement and the experience of someone who has caught the enthusiastic "sunlight of the spirit" even in the harder trudging I feel that spirit in what you share.

I thank God for you, dAAve, Pammie, Steve ... so many who continue to stay sober and live life daily and share this blogging fellowship...(even those like Anna and others who aren't blogging anymore but whose spirit lives on) as though God has just asked each morning to make a performance meriting a lasting impression. You have touched lives in ways that are only known to God fully! Mine is one. We alcoholics have an always/never mentality when we're living in disease. Luckily that works to our advantage when were living in the solution. God is always more powerful and my perspective is never perfectly right. :oP I'm grateful for you and all you've brought here!

Annette said...

I don't know why people do and say the things that they do and say....but 27 years is an amazing miracle! Hey thats how long I have been married...thats a miracle too! lol I love that you are filled with humility and you give God the credit. That is a beautiful thing MC.

Willa said...

Us folks who really want to stay sober need to hear how long you've been sober.

While you piss off the few, I think the rest of us rejoice in your long-term sobriety and you give us hope that maybe we ourselves can do the same. Don't stop saying how long you've been sober. I for one love it.