In 1998, at four years sober, every man I knew, at that four year mark, walked out the doors and drank and used again. Including myself.
At that time, it was the messaging, that just solidified my decision to take my life back into my own hands and go out. When an alcoholic walks up to you and says Get Out and Don’t come back … what are you supposed to do, when you figure out, your options at that point are very slim, on the ground.
The day I packed my moving truck, there were sober people standing outside my apartment saying to me … “You think you should think this over again?” “Are you sure, this is what you want to do?”
By the time the truck rolled up, I was resolute. I was going. Nobody was going to stop me. In hindsight, I should have listened, it would have saved me great pain and loss, across the board. It would have saved my sobriety.
In 2001, when Troy walked into my life saying that “He did not drink today,” led me back to the rooms. That Divine prayer I uttered to God, came to pass, as I needed it to, on the timing that I needed it as well. God gave me this little edge. But I know now, everything is on God’s time-table.
I had returned to Miami, and moved to the beach. Where, the first time I got sober, I was in South Miami, IN the city limits, on the mainland. The second time, I was getting sober, ON the beach, in a room, I believed was safe from the prying eyes of those people I had fucked over, on the mainland.
Like they would not talk about whose back and where ? Like nobody would know I was back, “In the rooms, again…” I got sober in the month of December. The worst month to come and attempt sobriety, with the holidays right around the corner.
I had no choice. It was sink or swim.
Thankfully, the men and women who welcomes me the second time, asked me to STAY, they did not TELL me to GO AWAY. I stayed. For those first few weeks, I was safe and insulated. I did not venture far from the SOBE room.
On Christmas Eve, 2001, my friends decided to take me to a Christmas Eve Meeting, In the city, ON the mainland, where I might cross paths with people I knew, and with people who knew me.
I stepped into Poinciana that night. It was a dark, candle lit meeting. Everyone I knew from the first time around was sitting in the room, as I walked in. And you know that look, from people who watched you go, think to themselves, and you know what I am going to write here and say out loud … “Look at that poor sod, back around again.” The look that crossed their faces at me. Pity and Sadness.
That I had to go out, to come back in. I still remember how my friends looked at me that night. If I could have crawled under a rock and disappear, I would have.
On Christmas night, Fonda and Ed, took us all to their house for my first sober holiday meal and fellowship. They took care of me every day that I showed up.
Dr. Bob’s Nightmare …
I spend a great deal of time passing on what I learned to others who want and need it badly. I do it for four reasons:
- A sense of Duty
- It is a pleasure
- Because in doing so I am paying my debt to the men and women who took time to pass it on to me.
- Because every time i do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip.
Sixteen years have passed now. Sixteen sober holidays in a row. And we can call the holiday season of 2017 a success, because all of our young people are still sober. Having survived their first Sober holiday with us.
Overheard at the meeting tonight:
- I went to sleep on New Years Eve – Alone
- I WOKE UP this morning – Sober
- I did not have to wonder what I did last night
- My bed was warm and cozy and the sun shone
- I don’t remember the last time I was sober on New Years Day
At five years sober, I was at our Tuesday meeting, and bitter Bernadette was scheming her holiday plans, thinking out loud to the room, as we listened to her talk.
I’ll be sober on the ground, and drink on the plane, and be sober on the other end. No, maybe I will be drunk on the ground and sober in the air and drunk on the other end … No maybe I’ll just say fuck it and drink all the way across the Atlantic to the UK to see my kids …
I stopped her and spoke these words …
I know you are fresh and vulnerable. I know how you think this scheming is going to work in your favor, but it won’t. If you cannot stay sober, and this trip to see your kids is going to push you to drink, THEN DON’T GO. CHANGE YOUR PLANS… You can CHANGE your plans, you know. You DON’T HAVE TO GO.
She looked at me incredulously. And she asked if I had kids, which I do not. She had kids. ADULT kids, at that. She said that I don’t understand what it is like to be a parent, and I don’t. I responded with this … If your kids are adults, then if you explain the situation to them, about your sobriety, they will understand, if you decide to change your plans and go later, or when you are stronger in sobriety.
She once again looked at me, she grabbed her purse, and walked out of the room, and she never returned. I don’t know what ever became of Bernadette.
It was my first pass at some semblance of sober thinking, at five years sober for me. I thought at the time, that advice was sound. Obviously, it wasn’t, because she was not listening to me at all.
TO THIS DAY, my friends and fellows do not listen to one word I say to them.
Like I have written earlier in the week, my fellows stayed sober, suffering through their first holiday sober. And I said to them, quite confidently the other night that:
Yes, you are sober for Christmas, AND Suffering is entirely OPTIONAL.
They all laughed at me.
Tonight, at the regular Monday meeting, all those kids who laughed at me, were not laughing when they responded with what I wrote above. They were dead sober serious. It was a first for all of them.
Our kids are ALL SOBER TONIGHT.
By the Grace of God and the fellowship of the Program.
Thank God, there is a God and I am NOT HE.