On May 8th, 2009 I turn 15 years sober! Which doesn’t even seem real.
When I was new in the program and heard people talk about having double digit sobriety I rarely believed them, how could it be possible to go that long without a drink, they must cheat or something. I was determined to find out how they were drinking and still maintaining a normal life style… and so I stuck around.
My first run in with a guy that had 15 years was at the Northside Group in Eau Claire. The Northside Group is a step meeting and they were on Step 12 at the time (12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.). The format of the meeting was that every other person got to share, I was in the right (or wrong) seat and when it was my turn I started to spout a bunch of nonsense that had nothing to do with Step 12, recovery or alcoholism. Chuck C. interrupted me and said that I didn’t know what I was talking about and maybe I should just listen to some folks that did. I was offended, shocked, horrified… but he was absolutely right. Attending that meeting for the next year I was fortunate to learn about the steps as they are practiced in the book, and even more fortunate to be introduced to the Traditions, ACTION and service work.
I consider myself fortunate for being raised in two meetings that were dramatically different from one another. One was focused primarily on the steps and traditions and the other was more focused on fellowship and structure. It provided me with a unique look at the program and gave me the best and worst of all its parts.
Have I grown into a spiritual giant and circuit speaker? No, far from it. I am still very rigid in my ideas of what AA means and what constitutes a meeting. I often find myself stewing in a meeting about a little thing that isn’t just right, so much to that I miss the message.
When I was new, desperate and willing to do anything to recover, I would read my Big Book, say my prayers, call other AA’s on the phone and try to actively participate in the fellowship of the program each and every day. Today, I’m lucky if I can remember to say a prayer on a daily basis. They talk about resting on our laurels in the book and I know the dangerous road I’m now walking.
The question is am I ready to change directions and walk down a more spiritual path? Right now all I can tell you is that I’m more willing to telling someone in a meeting to shut up… I’ll have to work on the rest!
Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly