“…We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.” pg. 24
“yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that. It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous. There you will find release from care, boredom and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship, and so will you.” pg. 152
The former passage, I read with my sponsor as we are working through the Big Book together right now. And I have to say that, right now, tonight, I have more notes and perspective written in the margins and underlined in the passages, than I have ever had before. My book is marked up and high-lit with notes from my sponsor that I had never seen in all the years I have been reading my book with people in the past.
The second passage comes after we open A Vision for you, as we read, the harrowing passages about oblivion coming to the words …
“As we became subjects of King Alcohol, shivering denizens of his mad realm, the chilling vapor that is loneliness settle down. It thickened, ever becoming blacker. Some of us sought out sordid places, hoping to find understanding companionship and approval. Momentarily we did – then would come oblivion and the awful awakening to face the Four Horsemen – Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair. Unhappy drinkers who read this page will understand.” pg. 151
Throughout the Book, we are visited with the ghosts of former alcoholics who went to the bitter end, blotting out everything around them. Over and over again, Bill and the first 100 writers of the book, tell us stories.
For all those men and women, the miracle happened and they got and stayed sober. So that the rest of us who have come along behind them, can know how bad it got for them, and for many, we heard tonight, all went there, themselves …
A Vision for You does not start out strong in the hope department for sure. It throws down the gauntlet, one more time, then proceeds to tell us that once we get sober, and clean up our lives, shit does get real … and that The Most Satisfactory years of your existence are ahead.
Many of my friends, farther back on the road, have walked, in as many months, a very hard road. I watched many of them struggle, but they persisted. Shit is getting real for many people. And I get a front row seat to watch and participate in the rehabilitation of lives on a nightly basis.
It is like day and night for many. Life is good all the way around. Many of our Down and outers, who never imagined that life could get so good, are besides themselves with gratitude. We all survived the bitter end. And together, we are beginning to see the light.
I’ve never wanted to be so sober, as I do today. My friends are the best people in the world. I cannot begin to tell you how great life is for many of them. One of my best friend and his wife hiked Machu Picchu for two weeks and climbed over 17,000 feet into the sky. Amazing …
Our intrepid chair tonight, invited us to read the first two pages of A Vision for You, as a whole, and many of us revisited the last drink.
And I can tell you that many of us, CAN, with SUFFICIENT FORCE, bring into our consciousness of the suffering and humiliation of our last drink.
I heard many things tonight. And I pondered my own story again.
When I got sober the first time, Todd was there. That voice of calm, the voice of wisdom and the voice of control was always with me. Yes, I was working in a bar, but that bar was the safest place I could be, given the circumstances we had been visited with at the time. AIDS was the great equalizer. Many went to their deaths, miserably.
Thankfully, due to Todd, (read: God) I live to tell that particular story.
When Todd moved away, I could not keep it together by myself. I just could not fathom, living by myself, on my own, without Todd behind me.
When I went out, it was my own fault. I listened to all the WRONG voices. When those final weeks of my drinking took place, it was binge drinking one night a week, because I just could not stomach drinking every day.
I was still, drinking to fit in. Drinking to be seen. Drinking to be noticed.
I would drink, until I fell down. In a room with a couple hundred other men doing the same thing. But nobody noticed me. So I drank more. Thinking that if I kept drinking, SOMEONE would NOTICE me …
At the bitter end, Black Out after Black Out … I came to believe that I could no longer drink any more. I called out to God, and He answered me in due course.
The rest is history they say…
But I still wonder, who was it that picked me up, off the dance floor after I collapsed, took me outside, got me a taxi, drove me home, AND got me in through TWO locked doors, into my apartment ???
I don’t know the answer to that Million Dollar Question.
Someone did notice me, and did me a great favor.
There must have been angels in that club, watching me.
Walking from home to the SOBE room, where I finally arrived in, I had to walk past the building that housed the club, I used to drink in. On the way out and on the way back.
A few weeks after I got sober, I heard they shut down the club for good.
I like to say, with a giggle … The last alcoholic left that building, so they had to close …
I mused tonight, that I needed a steady hand on my shoulder. I cannot go through life and NOT have that steady hand on my shoulder. I cannot do life alone. I know that today.
I knew it long ago, but when Todd left my life for good, there was nobody to take his place, and I foundered.
It wasn’t until I walked back into the rooms, in South Beach, that Fonda, Ed, Charlie, and Shane stepped up and took me in and cared for me.
When I moved to Montreal seventeen years ago, I did it the right way. I stepped into the room, with the people who would change my life. I needed that steady hand on my shoulder, and I got it in spades.
The right sponsor at the right time appeared, and took me on a journey, that first year. I was Never Alone. Not for one Minute. He showed me Sobriety. He showed me everything that this city could offer me, now that I was sober.
He took me places and showed me life. And little by slowly, A Vision for You Came to pass for me and countless others. The most satisfactory years of my life WERE ahead of ME.
And they are STILL AHEAD of me YET !!!
Life did not only get better, it got richer beyond my wildest imagination.
I’ve survived twenty-five years of a death sentence. I live every day to tell people that story to the degree that many of my friends roll their eyes at me when I mention it.
So I don’t talk about it any longer.
We live in the Solution today. You too can live in the solution.
With all the good, there is also bad. Sober people, are sick people, at the root of life. Those who do not work, falter and get sick. They freak out, and I see this happening around me, in old-timer disease.
I can see when old timers freak out and go down the rabbit hole. I can see it, when they cannot see it themselves. I spoke to one particular guy about it when he freaked out and he said to me, all twenty-six years of his sobriety said … How dare you call me on my shit, when you are only sixteen years and a few months sober ???
Go fuck yourself !!!
Alcoholics get sick. When they stop working and go into Ego and Resentment.
If you are NOT in The Work, then why not ?
Our kids work their asses off, day in and day out. We do not get a day off. There are no free passes to sobriety. It is just NOT GONNA HAPPEN without our doing anything.
Because when we sit back and wait for it to happen, we too could end up going down the rabbit hole ourselves.
I’ve been seeing it happen all around me, so I buck up on program. I listen to speakers on my phone. I hit meetings, and I am in the Book right now. With a young lady friend who has infinite amounts of wisdom to give us all.
When I realized I wanted what she had, I asked her to walk me through the book.
I have not looked back yet.
I love my life and those people who are IN IT TO WIN IT with me.
The whole point of getting sober, is to one day be:
Happy, Joyous and Free …
Some say I look happy. I feel joyous.
I AM FREE ….