by John W

Talk about “What an order, I can’t go through with it.” These words seared my soul: The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And for us, to drink is to die. I knew I was going through a tough patch, but the walls of denial were so impervious that I had not realized how dire my straits were. Fortunately, these words were not the first I had to swallow. Those who wrote them realized drunks like me needed a bit of a cushion before getting the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

By the time I was confronted with this grim reality, I had already been buoyed by the hope there was a solution, even for the hopeless alcoholic I had become. I had seen “me” in print in the Big Book. No longer could I ignore the police blotter sheets for the DUIs with my name or the insurance companies’ auto coverage denials. The Big Book had objective descriptions that fit me to a tee. There was no escaping the obvious, except to me of course. After staying sober for a year, the old timers in my Home Group noted what a mess I had been upon my arrival some 16 months before. I had cleaned up nicely.

I had already been buoyed by the hope there was a solution

I was left to consider what allowed that process to occur. Getting a sponsor and working the steps was the quick and correct response, but it was an incomplete one. A key ingredient had also been regular, daily meetings. Certainly I had heard others describe their programs that were different than mine and worked. But I had also seen daily examples of those who had what I wanted, each doing the same thing, regular, daily meeting attendance.

As sober days accumulated, perseverance became my mantra. Days became years and underscored the importance of the observation. Invariably when those who slipped described their experiences, the stories had a common denominator. Each recounted how, before they had again succumbed to the first drink, they had stopped going to meetings. How often this lamentation was bookmarked between the horror the first drink became and the gratitude for the meeting where the speaker described their survival.

Active participation brought me these wonders

For those with ears to hear, these experiences were impossible to ignore. One old timer poignantly said, “Go where we go, do what we do, get what we got.” Reality checks and clever turns of phrase, however, were not enough. Reading something off a placard on the wall or listening to a tragic tale at a meeting was not the end of the lesson to be absorbed. My sponsor kept asking me: What are you going to do with your newfound wisdom? He made a point of keeping me focused on whatever action I was going to take to stay sober. I discovered if I was staying sober one day at a time, the perseverance in my meeting attendance was fundamental.

My perseverance paid handsome rewards

Sticking with this program, the steps and my meetings was the key to success. The gifts in this package, wrapped with helping others and a new attitude, were undeniable. Active participation in the fellowship brought to me these wonders and the trappings that came with them. My perseverance paid handsome rewards.

In the sunlight of my daily reprieve I discovered a group of people who shared my dilemma and who shared my desire to get healthy and stay healthy. I found myself in a growing fellowship of common survivors, regardless of how we met. Whether the meeting was in year one across the country in a city of a business trip, or on the other side of the globe a decade later in Zoom, my host of new friends was a limitless dividend I continued to receive. Some were small in scope, others were quite significant. When asked to help another work the steps my experience, strength and hope could be put to some good use. I was bestowed with a sense of purpose and value both unexpected and wonderful. Life became a 24-hour day: one hour for a meeting and 23 for me. With the sunlight of the spirit packed into each minute, this deal was not a bad bargain any way you looked at it.

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