Every night that we sit with the Big Book and read it, repeatedly, eventually hindsight takes place and wisdom appears. This does not happen overnight, because we know that sobriety does not happen overnight.
Everything in its own time they say …
“A complete change takes place in our approach to life. Where we used to run from responsibility, we find ourselves accepting it with gratitude that we can successfully shoulder it. Instead of wanting to escape some perplexing problem, we experience the thrill of challenge in the opportunity it affords for another application of A.A. techniques, and we find ourselves tackling it with surprising vigor.” pp 275-276 Ed. 4
We don’t know what we don’t know. I know today, that I have specific insight into who I was, at particular points in my personal story.
Growing up in an alcoholic home, I learned, quite forcefully, how to take care of said home. Cleaning, doing laundry, taking care of a pool and mowing the yard. Grocery shopping and cooking dinners were necessary at times as well.
I knew how to do all those things, before I flew the coop, so to speak.
The problem was, that before I got where I was intending to go, my alcoholism was already there, waiting for me, like it knew me intimately, and had plans for me that I really did not ponder as the moving truck pulled up to the building I was moving into.
The following five years was a blur, until I hit my twenty-sixth year of life, and death was staring me in the face. There were no options, but to kiss my ass goodbye and wait to die.
That is, until Todd (read: God), stepped into my life.
At the first, as he demanded my sober heart and mind, what I did not know, I did not know, and Todd had to re-educate me. Chaos reigned in my head and I had lost control of my faculties.
I was powerless over the fact that I was going to die, miserably.
Yes, I got sober. But more importantly, I had a job. A job that paid the bills and kept me alive. Keeping me alive trumped meetings, and the people in those meetings. The first year of my sobriety was a horse race that was bet against me by the very same people who were tasked at carrying the message of sobriety to me and making sure I made it.
However, with a number painted on my back and weekly bets being placed on my eventual slip, what was I supposed to do, when I was locked into one meeting location, because in those days, sobriety in Fort Lauderdale circa 1994 was sketchy?
I went to meetings, and did what I had to do to stay sober. All the while, Todd was keeping me alive, against all the odds.
Had Todd not taken me in and taught me everything that I had to learn, again, I would surely have died like everyone else.
We all know this story. When Todd departed my life, I could not keep it together.
On December 9th, 2001, I walked back into the rooms in SOBE.
The first of two major decisions were made. The second would follow very soon after I got sober, with a government invitation to Canada and a Birthright that was mine to claim.
I was not going to make another terrible mistake.
Soberly and gingerly, at 4 months sober, I came to Canada for a visit. I stayed two weeks, went home, packed my few personal items and my clothes and got back on a plane and I did not look back.
The second major life decision was complete.
A very good thing was that during my first visit I had found a home group, a doctor, and a temporary place to live.
I like to say, at this point that, I met all the right people, at all the right moments, for all the right reasons. I had walked into the sobriety circle. And all the right people took me in and cared for me, in ways, that one does not see in today’s sober circles.
Things are just not the same. However hard I try to carry on that tradition myself.
I had rehab to attend. I had a counselor who kept me on the beam. And all I had to do, in that first year, was stay sober. I learned how to build my life around my meetings. To this day, almost seventeen years later, that particular infrastructure is still in play.
The first job I was given, was to set down chairs and tables, then learn how to make damned good coffee. Today, almost seventeen years later, I am STILL setting down chairs and tables and making damned good coffee.
Whatever you place before your sobriety, will eventually FAIL !!!
I have read the book countless times. I have worked steps over and over. I have been to thousands of meetings, and have had thousands of conversations about sobriety.
I know what I did not know, now, when I did not know what I did not know, then.
The proof is in the pudding. If only, (I know I should never utter those words, IF ONLY) someone had the insight into my sobriety, like Todd had insight into my life, things might have turned out very differently. But they did not.
Life had to take the course it took. Because at each point on that chaotic timeline, I had to learn lessons the hard way, because I really was not sober at all, in the first four years I had racked up in time.
I had the TIME. But I surely was not SOBER.
I don’t have fifty years of continuous sobriety. like some of the founders in the book, or like the handful of founders I know today. All I have is what I have worked for.
I took it easy. I followed directions. I did not take chances on making stupid mistakes.
I can safely say, that my stupid mistake generator has been offline for a long time now.
Every decision I made in sobriety, was well-tested and advised over, one issue at a time, one decision at a time.
Into years two and three, life threw me several curve balls, but I tackled them soberly.
And in the ensuing fourteen years, we have conquered every obstacle, soberly, together.
I’ve never had to go outside the SOBER circle ever, for anything. ANYTHING.
The Book is correct …
There is no more aloneness, with that awkward ache, so deep in the heart of every alcoholic that nothing before, could ever reach it. That ache is gone and never need return again.
Now there is a sense of belonging, of being wanted and needed and loved. In return for a bottle and a hangover, we have been given the Keys of the Kingdom.”