When I focus on the fellowship, wind fills my sails and my course ahead is sound

by John W

While it had certainly become clear that I had lost complete control over the grog, I was absolutely in denial about that simple truth. Equally certain was that I had no practical conception of how that reality was affecting those around me, particularly those I loved the most. For my part, I had the hubris to assure all I might come into contact that all was right with the world and my place in it. Because I was experiencing a modicum of success in my chosen field, and seemed the dutiful father to those parents and teachers who coexisted in the universe with our children, life was a dream – to me. I failed to realize it was a dream, a fantasy, I experienced while fully awake. And then only until that day’s blackout began sometime after the children were asleep and the serious drinking had taken its toll.

When my streetcar had stopped at the last house on the block, that 7:00 a.m. A.A. meeting, I am not sure what I was prepared for, but it certainly was not to stop drinking. It was absolutely not to stop drinking for the rest of my days on this planet. However, like the proverbial prolonged and consistent drip of water which, over time – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, splits even the most solid block of granite – prolonged and consistent contact with the A.A. message finally split me to my core. That I had even gotten to the rooms was proof of my willingness, albeit the reserved and retiring variety upon arrival and for months to come thereafter. But what was my next step?

I had hoped just the effort would right things on the home front, that my show of a good faith attempt at such a monumental challenge would smooth the ruffled feathers, calm the anxious fears and, most importantly, stop the nagging to quit cold turkey. When my half measures continued to avail me nothing, my miracle happened and the honesty of my condition escaped my lips for the first time at a meeting. 

It was as if I had stepped out of a darkened closet into a sunlit room full of friends, none of whom I knew. Although I was basking in the sunlight of the spirit, I was still a drunk. My disease had gone nowhere. I had not been cured, I had only succeeded in finally admitting to myself (and that new host of friends) what I was. When I made that first call to Louis, selected from the group’s phone list because his was the only face I could put with a name on that list, his first question broke the dam of resistance. He asked simply: Do you have a sponsor yet? As we talked about my negative response, I began to realize I could not do this alone. Equally important, I realized that no one expected me to. Guys like Louis actually wanted to help. I also realized that I needed help.

I believe this was when the seed of humility was planted. That seed took root, akin to any nourishing fruit, and grew into a daily, sustaining diet. I needed sustenance to achieve that life-continuing daily reprieve from drink. But as the days had rolled into weeks, months and even, unbelievably, years, so too had the product of this seed evolved. I dutifully read and believed that without more of this precious quality I could not live to a useful purpose. It would be good insurance to have when confronted with that real emergency sure to be in my future.

At times, these concepts seemed to be only words on a page, voices in my brain. As if the echo of a heartfelt share which sounded so profound in the hearing, yet now rang hollow. As I too, like those first 100, came to believe I felt an infusion of this belief into the marrow of my bones. Anything less was only lip service to an idea, not taking of that second step. 

In the principle of humility I have discovered the same to be true. I must infuse it into the marrow of my soul. I hear so often, “You don’t have to do this alone.” I believe this principle of humility tells me that I cannot do this alone. I have come to believe that this power greater than myself is always there for me. True humility tells me that so, too, are those in this fellowship as I trudge the road of happy destiny. They are the life’s blood of my program. I need them as surely as I need air to live. Without them I am lost. When my spirit is so focused on those I am with in this fellowship, winds fill my sails and my course ahead is sound.

photo credits available upon request to [email protected]
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