Why Do Some Make It While Others Don’t?

It’s been a while! Life has been busy and this blog has suffered, but I’ll save the update on life for another post. I feel like I need to write about something else right now.

A couple of days ago, my husband and I went to a meeting. We met a friend of ours there because he had expressed that he wanted to stop drinking. These types of moments, where I truly get the opportunity to be one alcoholic helping another, are the moments that I live for. There are so many blessings in getting to share my own experience, strength, and hope–especially hope–with someone who is facing the same struggles I once did.

The meeting did not disappoint. Our friend got a 24-hour chip, tears were shed as he shared his desire to stop drinking, and others expressed their support and encouragement. It’s a beautiful thing when any newcomer makes it into the rooms, and it’s even more beautiful to see people who, when in active addiction, couldn’t be bothered by anyone else’s problems, jump in to help a fellow in need.  esh

That’s not the end of the story, though. While we were at the meeting (it’s not one we normally go to, so we knew a couple of people there, but not many) a man sitting to my right who was clearly distressed, was invited to speak by another member. I thought that perhaps he was going to share that he had relapsed and was back in the rooms now, he had that drawn, sad and guilty look about him.

But that’s not what he shared. When he spoke, his eyes filled with tears, he told the group about his daughter. She was also an alcoholic and had been to that very meeting with him the week before. He went on to tell us, voice shaking, that his daughter had died the night before and that following the meeting he had to go claim her body.

It was only when he said her name, that I realized I knew her. She had been a student at the college where I worked. I knew that she struggled with alcoholism, we had spoken about it a lot during her time there, and while she wanted to get sober for good, it seemed it was something she just couldn’t manage. She was a beautiful, intelligent woman, who had a lot of life in front of her, and now she was gone–due to alcoholism.

I was saddened, as was my husband as he knew her too. And that old familiar question, the one that pops up every time I hear about someone dying from addiction, came to mind. Why do some of us make it, while others of us don’t?

When I think back to my own early recovery, which had at least a hundred false starts, it makes me wonder what it was that finally clicked and has helped me stay sober for the past several years. What is it that made my last drunk my last drunk? I wanted to stop drinking for a long time, and I made many attempts that failed. Why was the last one the one that, so far, has stuck?

I can list off the things that I think have contributed to me staying sober like willingness, honesty, forgiveness, acceptance, asking for help, rehab and AA, God, having a sponsor, being vulnerable, and the list goes on. But I feel like I had those things (at least a lot of them) the first hundred times I tried to quit drinking. So, what was it that changed? Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the combination of all of those things on the list, maybe it’s all about timing, maybe it’s about being so tired and worn out that there just is no way to go on the way you have.

I really wish I did know the answer. If I did, I could share it with my friend the newcomer to make his path easier. And maybe I could have shared it with the young woman we lost to the disease. I would share it with everyone! Shout it from the rooftops! But, the truth is, I don’t know.

What I do know, is that you can’t give up. You have to keep fighting for sobriety and recovery until it finally sticks. You have to do the work. And it is work, and it is hard, and it doesn’t end. You have to keep doing it to keep the new life you have in recovery. That I know. That’s what I have to do to stay sober. And while it has gotten easier, I don’t let my guard down, not ever.

The meeting that day had so much hope and so much sadness–at the same time. I was so encouraged that the young woman’s father was there, at a meeting, less than 24 hours after losing his daughter. He was showing everyone there, including our friend who is just starting out, that you can make it through really tough times without drinking. I was also encouraged by the way that other members reached out to our friend with their own experience, strength, and hope. I know that he was touched.

I’m still left wondering why some of us make it and some of us don’t. Maybe I’ll never know the answer. But I will keep sharing, keep working, and keep having hope. And if that helps even one person, then it will be more than worth it.

Telling my story

One of the really great things about Arizona is that in just a few hours you can go from this:

tucson

To this:

Forest lakes

That’s what we did this weekend.  We spent the last two days up near Payson, Arizona attending the annual Payson Round-up.  It’s a huge camping trip that is organized by a local Payson homegroup every year for the last twenty-something years.  This is the first time that we have gone, and we had a great time.  Recovering alcoholics and addicts are my favorite people to hang out with, and there were plenty!  It was a true blessing to see so many people whose lives have been changed by the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Just awesome!

It was so nice to get away from home, even for a short trip.  I had an extremely busy week at work because we had classes that started on Monday.  Start weeks are the busiest for me, and I was tired and burned out from working four 10-hour days so that I could take Friday off.  Our four-hour road trip started on Friday morning.  I love road trips!  Especially when I get to travel with my husband, Austin.  We have the best time, laughing and being silly, searching the iPod and the radio for songs to sing along to, telling each other stories from our pasts, and just being tuned into each other.  I will never turn down a road trip with my Honey.

This trip wasn’t a spur of the moment, let’s get out of the heat and see some trees, decision.  We’ve been planning on it for a few months now, because earlier in the year, I was asked to be one of the speakers at the round-up by one of the Payson homegroup members who attends my homegroup when he’s in Tucson.  At these kinds of AA events, there are usually a few members chosen to stand up and share their experience, strength and hope with the other attendees.  At this event, there were four AA speakers and one from Al-Anon.   I really don’t know how I got thrown into that handful, but I did, and I was really honored to be asked.

I have told my story, briefly, a few times at meetings.  But when w arrived on Friday, the organizers told us that they were expecting 350 people on Saturday!  I was speaking at 10:00 Saturday morning, and I was slated to speak for an hour!  And just so you know, I am one of the 75% of people who fear public speaking more than death.  I didn’t know what I gotten myself into.  Standing in front of that many people, baring my soul, was something that I never thought I would volunteer for, no matter how passionate I am about recovery.  Writing this blog allows me to hide behind a computer screen, without worry about judgment or dealing with people face-to-face.  Speaking at regular meetings (which, if I’m honest, I don’t do as often as I would like) isn’t as scary because I know the other members.  But on Friday night, as the nerves set in, I knew that I was in for something that was way out of my comfort zone.  I had trouble getting to sleep that night, which is something that very rarely ever happens to me.  I prayed, as I tried to go to sleep, that God would give me the strength that I needed for the next day, and that He would somehow give me the right words to reach those that needed to hear.

Saturday morning I woke up early and sat outside in the cool mountain air to write in my journal.  I felt surprisingly peaceful and ready for the day.  My fear and nervousness wasn’t gone, but I had faith that things would go well.  We got to the campsite and spent some time drinking coffee and visiting with some of the folks there, the meeting before the meeting, as it’s called.  Then, as the chairman if the event read the AA preamble and everyone started finding their seats, I felt a few pangs of anxiety.  What if I didn’t make sense?  What if I lost my place in my notes?  What if I talked too fast and finished too early?  What if everyone thinks I’m too new in sobriety to offer experience, strength and hope?  My thoughts were all over the place, but focused on me screwing up.  The gentleman that invited me to speak walked up to the mike…oh my gosh, I’ve never used a microphone…and introduced me to the group.  I walked up…

“Good morning, my name is Jami, and I’m an alcoholic….”

I confessed right at the beginning that I was nervous, that I was feeling a little bit pukey, and that I probably should’ve gone pee before getting up there.  That got a laugh, and I felt better.  I started to speak and I was ok, no one was booing, and everyone seemed to be engaged in what I had to say.  And you know what?  I made sense, I didn’t even look at my notes after the first couple of minutes, I spoke for nearly an hour, and I had so many people come up after to thank me and tell me that they identified with my story.  I was able to tell my story, completely and honestly, and I received so many kind words after.  I felt so blessed.

It was an amazing weekend of conquering my fears, trusting God, and carrying the message to other alcoholics.  I can’t imagine anything better.  🙂

P.S. My story was recorded, so as soon as I get the recording, I will post it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping the Faith

Faith

Today’s AA meeting was much better than the one last week.  I wrote about the drama last week when an old-timer told a newcomer to shut the fuck up during his emotional share.  (Update:  I haven’t seen that newcomer all week.  I hope that only means that he has chosen to go to different meetings after what happened, and not the alternative.)   Thank God there was no drama today.  It was an enlightening meeting with a lot of insightful shares and it was filled with hope.  The topic was faith.  The person that brought up the topic (the same old-timer that was so rude last week!) expressed that, as the Bible says in Matthew 13:31, all we need to change for the better, to live a life filled with joy, to stay sober, to have a relationship with God, is faith as small as a mustard seed.  That resonated with me because when it came to both my faith in God and the gospel, and my faith in AA, that’s all I had.

My faith in God came first.  I grew up in a family that didn’t go to church, didn’t talk about God or the Bible, and didn’t behave in a Christian way.  Yet, if you had asked any of them if they were Christians, they would have enthusiastically said yes.  But, whenever I questioned them about faith in God, no one could explain it to me in a way that I understood or believed.  A typical response was “it’s just something you have.”  I didn’t get it, so at an early age, I declared myself agnostic.  I couldn’t see God, couldn’t touch God, couldn’t feel His presence, so how could I have faith in Him?  I didn’t even know if He was real.  I saw though, in people outside of my family, that the ones that had faith had something I wanted.  They had a serenity and peace about them.  They were able to face things that seemed impossible to me, and make it to the other side of trials and tribulations.  I always knew that I was missing out on something big, I just couldn’t figure out how to get it.

I think that is one of the reasons that I became an alcoholic (of course that is a long list!).  I was missing something that the human soul needs.  And I drank to try to fill it up.  When I finally made it to rehab, I ended up at a Christian treatment center in Phoenix because they accepted my insurance.  That was really my only reason for choosing that facility, other than the fact that they returned my desperate call first.  When I got there, I chose the traditional track (Big Book studies, meditation and lots of lectures and 12-step meetings), as opposed to the Christian track (devotionals, Bible studies, the same lectures and 12-step meetings).   That only lasted about a week, because I started to pay attention to the staff working with all of us addicts:  the therapists, the behavioral health techs, the nurses, even the doctors.  I learned that all but one of them were in recovery themselves.  I struck up conversations with them and I learned that spirituality and faith in a Higher Power were helping them stay sober.  Amazing.  I went to Bible study and morning devotional the second week.  When I listened to the believers share, what I heard was what I had been missing.  They spoke of their horrible experiences and of how God brought them through them.  They spoke of knowing that they were powerless and that they had to rely on God to save them.  They threw up their hands and turned their will over to God.  They relinquished control.  And, here’s the kicker, they believed without proof that God would take care of them.  That was faith!  That was what I had been looking for my whole life!  The people at rehab, a bunch of addicts and alcoholics, finally showed me what faith was.  I was overjoyed.

Having faith in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous took a while longer.  I loved AA almost from the beginning, and again, I found people who had what I wanted – sobriety.  I wanted to be able to live without getting loaded, and these people were doing it.  But, when it came to really believing that the program could work for me, I wavered.  It all sounds good on paper, but how could one alcoholic helping another really work?  How could these AA members that had lost their families, their homes, their freedom, their jobs, really be happy, joyous, and free?  I was probably a year into the program before I really started to have faith that it works.  I started to see that the promises that the old timers talked about and that we read at the end of every meeting, really could (and would) come true.  I saw it in their lives and it gave me hope – and faith – that it would happen in mine.  And you know what?  It is happening in mine.  I have made it nearly nine months free from alcohol, I have not had an inclination to drink, and I have had many times when I have been happy, joyous and free.  These things don’t happen all the time, but they happen often enough for me and for others that I see in the program, that I am able to have faith that it works.  And I’m gonna keep the faith!

Normies…they don’t get it.

I’ve been  a part of the recovery community for over two years now (sober for eight months), and I have become so accustomed to interacting with others in the program that I often forget about the normies out there.  Most of the people who I have any kind of relationship with are people who are at least a little bit familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous.  Whether they are in the program or not, they can understand the language of recovery.  Every once in a while, I am reminded that there are people who have never had a problem with drugs or alcohol, so they don’t (can’t) understand what it is to be an addict.

It’s like when someone tells you to “just stop” drinking so much, or they ask “why can’t you just stop?”   How many times, as addicts, have we heard that one?  I can’t even begin to count the number of times my mother said that to me.  That statement, “just stop,”  has become a running joke in my house.  Whenever one of us complains about how we are feeling (physically or emotionally) we ask the other one, “Well, why don’t you just stop?”   It doesn’t matter what it is…could be a headache or stomach ache, a feeling of guilt or despair. Whatever the situation we ask the question and then we both laugh.  Ah, alcoholic humor.  Normies wouldn’t get it.

I am very open about my alcoholism at work.  My coworkers all know that I go to an AA meeting nearly every day, and that I take my recovery very seriously, even though I make  jokes about it sometimes.  I have a lot of love and support at my job, and I know I am very lucky to have it.  That said, this morning I was very surprised, and kind of amused, to be reminded that normies think differently than addicts do.  I talked to a coworker about exercise when I saw her leaving work in gym clothes yesterday.  She lauded the benefits of working out, and I told her that I knew that I needed to get my big, fat butt in gear and do some kind of exercise myself.  Then, this morning she came into my office to tell me about her Zumba class last night.  She talked about making a commitment to exercise, and I agreed that it takes commitment and likened it to me going to meetings. That’s when she so graciously explained to me that if I would get a fitness regimen and stick to it, I would no longer need AA meetings. She went on to say that I would feel so good about myself that I wouldn’t even have to think about drinking or not drinking. She was very adamant about it.  I thanked her for her advice, but told her that I will always need meetings because I don’t want to ever drink again.  She told me to just try working out everyday and cutting down on my meetings.  I smiled and nodded and she went on her way.  The whole thing was rather funny to me, and I thought to myself that normies just don’t get it.

As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of some things my mom said when I got out of rehab the first time.  For the first few weeks she was like the meeting police, asking me repeatedly if I had gone to meetings and when I was planning on going to another.  I struggled with going as a lot of newcomers do.  A few weeks later I had made some friends, shared at meetings a couple of times, and was beginning to really get something out of meetings.  One evening my mom wanted me to come over and I told her that I couldn’t because I was headed to a meeting.  I thought she would be happy about it, but she said “how much longer are you going to have to do those meetings?”  Like I would suddenly be cured within a few weeks!  My mom, although she has a lot of addictive behaviors, is a normie when it comes to booze.  She doesn’t get it.

One of the most blatant examples of normies not getting it happened to me not that long ago.  A friend of mine who knows I’m in recovery, knows about my visit to rehab last year, and has supported me through my struggles, and applauded my successes, did something that really opened my eyes to the differences between the way recovering alcoholics and normies view alcohol.  My friend often shops at specialty food stores and she likes to share fancy chocolate candy with everyone.  One day she offered me a piece of chocolate, and of course I accepted (please refer to the fat butt comment above).  I took a bite of the candy and it tasted like it had alcohol in it.  I asked my friend and she said yes, it was a rum filling.  She said it and then a look of realization spread across her face.  But in an instant it was gone and she said, “well it’s alright, isn’t it?  It’s only candy.”  In my mind, at that instant, I felt like I may as well have taken a shot of tequila.  I had all of these panicky thoughts about whether this meant I would have to reset my sobriety date (I didn’t), what if it triggered me to want to drink (it didn’t), what was my friend thinking giving an alcoholic a rum filled candy, why didn’t she think it was as big of a deal as it seemed to me?  I called my husband, and I called my sponsor and they calmed me down.  They both said that my friend just didn’t think about it before giving me that candy.  What the whole thing taught me is that booze is just not a big deal to normies.  They can take it or leave it, the thought of drinking it or of not drinking it doesn’t consume them, they haven’t had a love/hate relationship with booze.  It’s just a thing to them.  They don’t get what it is to be an alcoholic.

I hope I haven’t said anything out of line or offensive to any non-alcoholics out there, that is not my intention.  I have a number of normie friends that are super supportive, loving and they do understand where I’m coming from.  I am truly blessed to have them in my life.  But there are a lot too, that just don’t get it.

Don’t Throw The Baby Out With The Bath Water

baby

On Sunday mornings I chair my home group’s AA meeting.  I just started doing so at the beginning of this month, and it’s a three month commitment.  Other than showing up for meetings, occasionally sharing, and talking program with other alcoholics, this is my way of doing service.  It is outside my comfort zone though, because I don’t usually like to call attention to myself, and I am generally pretty quiet in big groups.  Just sitting up at the front and reading the AA preamble is a fairly big deal for me, so each Sunday morning I am a little bit anxious that there will be some issue that I have to handle  as the ‘host’ for the hour.  Up until today my worries had been unwarranted.  Aside from having to cut-off one particular old-timer a couple of times, my job had been easy.  This morning was another story, and I left the meeting with some resentments.

We have a fairly large home group, there are usually about 50 or 60 people there.  The back corner seems to be reserved for the old-school members who have 30+ years of sobriety.  They tend to be kind of a harsh, tell-it-like-it-is, sit-down-and-shut up sort of bunch.  They quote the Big Book in every share, tell newcomers exactly what they need to do, and pass judgement on those that don’t do sobriety their way.  They are Big Book bullies.  I am not saying that they don’t have good things to say.  As I mentioned, they have decades of sobriety, so they are obviously doing something right.  But I do think that their approach, especially when it comes to newcomers, is sometimes way too far into the tough love category.

This morning when I asked if anyone had a topic for the discussion, a young man with around a month of sobriety spoke up.  He has been really struggling with getting sober and he was full of emotion and confusion.  Yesterday he went to an old girlfriend’s house and ended up drinking an O’Doul’s beer.  He didn’t know if that meant he had a slip or not (in my book, it does, near beer is still beer).  He told his story, and began to talk about his regret and confusion, obviously upset, when one the old-timers in the corner yelled out “shut the fuck up.”  Several seconds of cross-talk, cross-yelling really, ensued as people in the group told the old-timer that everyone has a right to share, and that he needed to be quiet, and he told everyone that the newcomer needs to shut up at meetings and talk to his sponsor.  I invited the newcomer to continue sharing and, thankfully, he did.  The rest of the meeting revolved around the slippery slope of drinking the low-alcohol beer substitutes and the like.  Most of the people that shared were in agreement that the newcomer had a slip and should change his sobriety date.  The other old-timers echoed their loud, confrontational buddy’s sentiment and spoke with raised voices, rather angrily, as they thumped their Big Books and barked out orders.

As I sat there and listened, I became more and more resentful.  I thought about my first months in the program, and what I needed at the time.  Having someone yell at me to shut the fuck up was not what I needed.  I needed to know that I wasn’t alone, that there were people that were just like me that had made it to a sober way of living.  I needed to know that I had a place where I could fit in and not be judged.  I needed to know that there was a solution, and there were people that could help me learn what it was.  That old-timer gave none of that to the newcomer, and that really made me mad.  Had I not been chairing the meeting, I probably would have walked out.

I know that each newly sober person has different needs, and that some do need a stronger push to get going in the right direction.  I know that when you go to treatment the main focus is on loading you up with information and changing your behaviors through routine and structure.  Lord knows I needed that when I went to rehab.  There had to be rules, and I needed the keep-’em-busy-every-second structure.  But even that was administered with a gentle hand.  What I don’t agree with is trying to bully someone into sobriety.  I don’t think that someone can get you sober anymore than they can get you drunk, but I do think that it’s the old-timers’ responsibility to help the newcomers, to offer encouragement, to show them the way, to lead by example.  To share their experience, strength and hope.  Isn’t that the mission of AA?

By the end of the meeting, things had settled down.  Both the old-timer and the newcomer apologized to the group and to each other as we gathered for the closing prayer.  Even though I’ve only been around the rooms for a couple of years, I know that once in a while, things happen at meetings that leave a bad taste in my mouth.  I think that what happened this morning sucked, and I hope that the newcomer won’t go out and drink, and that he’ll be back tomorrow morning.  I will definitely talk to my sponsor about the whole thing, to get her perspective on what happened.  But you know what?  By the time 6:15 a.m. rolls around tomorrow morning, I will happily head to my home group for a meeting, because I know, without a doubt, that AA has saved my life.  The steps and the traditions have taught me a new way to live my life, and the fellowship has given me people who understand me to live it with.   I won’t (can’t) let what a select few do or say keep me away from something that I know works.  There’s no throwing the baby out with the bath water here.  I’ll keep coming back.

Follow the rules, or change your thinking?

This morning, on our way home from a meeting, my husband and I were talking about a woman that we know in the program.  She has been sober for a long time, over 30 years, I think, so she is obviously doing something right.  But to hear her in meetings, you would think she was a newcomer.  A very angry, contrary, newcomer.  Whenever she shares, her words are full of anger, and she almost always points out just how different she is from all of the rest of us.  If someone shares about things they used to lie about in the past, she has to comment that she’s always been honest.  If someone mentions that they have found peace and serenity in sobriety, she has to comment that she finds sobriety as shitty as any other way of life.  But she stays sober.  I have been told, over and over again, to look for the similarities, not the differences when I am in the rooms.  And that has really served me well.  I feel at home with other alcoholics, because I think that, even though our stories may be different, deep down we are all the same.  We’re addicts.  We are all reaching for the same things:  sobriety, happiness, a new way to live.

As our conversation went on, my husband said something that really made me think.  He said that some people in the program need to be told what to do to stay sober, and some people need to be told how to think to stay sober.  When I really thought about that, I found it to be true.  When I have heard AA members tell their stories, there are some that say that their sponsor gave them very specific instructions on what to do and when to do it.  As long as they followed those instructions, they stayed sober.  It was essentially a behavioral thing.  They needed someone to make their decisions for them and when they did, they had a favorable outcome.  I think that the angry woman we were talking about fits into this category.  She did what she was told and she has stayed sober….for a really long time.

follow-rules-28912872

On the other hand, I have heard other members say that even when they “thoroughly followed” the path that their sponsors and other oldtimers laid down for them, they still couldn’t get sober until they learned to think differently.  They had to have a heart change in the way that they thought about themselves, their lives, and the world around them.  Until that happened, even following all of the instructions, they couldn’t stay sober.  I definitely think that I am a part of this group.  Being told what to do really didn’t do much for me.  My first sponsor (who, incidentally, was a lot like my mother. Ugh.) gave me a lot of instruction – call everyday, go to a meeting everyday, avoid triggers, read the big book, talk to other women in the program, be honest, work the steps, the list goes on.  Those are all really good things to do, and when I get to the point where I have sponsees myself, I will ask them to do the same.  But just doing all of those things didn’t keep me sober.  I had to be trained to think differently.  I had to learn to shut down the thoughts in my head that I was so used to listening to.  The ones that told me I was a horrible person, that I would never be well, that I was destined to die drunk.  Then I had to learn to replace them with the truth – I am not a horrible person, I can be well, and I don’t have to keep drinking.  Really telling myself the truth, thinking differently, is what is keeping me sober today.  And both my current sponsor and my husband played significant parts in helping me change the way I thought.

change-thoughts

So, which way is right?  Neither, and both, I guess.  I can’t imagine maintaining sobriety without having a real heart change (maybe that’s my sprirtual awakening?).  But I have seen sobriety work for people that have just followed the rules too.  Whatever works for us is the right thing to seek out, and when we find it, we can have sobriety, happiness and a new way to live.

Keeping It Fresh

fresh

My husband secretly recorded my last drunk.  He told me that he had done so while I was in rehab, but it took me almost three months to be brave enough to watch it.  It was painful to watch what I become when I put alcohol in my body.  It was hard for me to believe that the person I was seeing and hearing was me.  I have little recollection of that afternoon and evening.  What I saw and heard in that video was so pathetic.  It was, as the Big Book says, pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.   I was a mess of emotions, crying and begging Austin to take care of me, and asking him over and over if he still loved me.  At one point (actually several times according to Austin), I was laying on my stomach in a bathtub full of water and he had to pull me out to keep me from drowning.

I wasn’t always that kind of sad, overly emotional, needy drunk.  There were many times that I was combative, mean, and just plain abusive.  We can joke now about me having been a brawler, because sober I couldn’t be farther from it.  But when it was going on, it was pretty damn ugly.  Booze made me someone that I am not.  It turned me into a liar, a cheat, a slut, and a thief.  My drunkalog is full of just awful, disgusting, scary situations that I put myself in.

Why am I writing all of this?  Because it’s important for me to keep it fresh.  I have to remember what it was like, so that I don’t ever have to go back to that way of living.  Or dying, as the case may be.  It’s really easy for my alcoholic mind to forget all of the negative things that happened when I drank, and to just remember that feeling of relief the first drink brought.  Euphoric recall has caused many an alcoholic to go back out, myself included.  Just last week, one of my husband’s sponsees relapsed.  He thought he could handle it.  It’s heartbreaking to see those AA members that bounce in and out like a ping pong ball, like I did for a while.  It’s scary too, because we never know if there is another recovery in us.  It’s a crap shoot.

For that reason, I try to keep it fresh.  Going to meetings help me with that.  When newcomers introduce themselves, I am reminded of how I felt when I was in their seat.  When I can see the shame and regret in the eyes of someone returning to the program after a slip or relapse, it helps me remember what it’s like to start over.   I recently heard something at a speaker meeting that really struck a chord with me.  The speaker said that it’s important for him to look in the mirror every day to see who he is.  Then he said that his mirror is the rooms of AA.  That is true for me too.  In the reflection that I see when I go to meetings I see those that are struggling to stay sober, those that are fighting for their lives, those that are not drinking even when things are bad, and those that are happy, joyous, and free in sobriety.  I see myself in all of them.

My worst day sober is better than my best day drunk.  I have gotten a second chance at happiness and I don’t want to let it go.  Ever.  That’s why I keep it fresh.