Following the suggestions I had been hearing at meetings, shortly after the miracle of sobriety had come into my life when the obsession to drink had literally vanished on Saint Patrick’s Day, I got a sponsor. The decision to select one, although made in March, remained pending until Summer. The delay was due to my fear of being honest with another person about my drinking, the wreckage it was causing and what I was going to have to do to address my alcoholism. Because I had a strong and positive religious background, although different from that of my sponsor, Step Two seemed a real “no brainer.”

Of course I believed in God, I had for as long as I could remember. I had no trouble with the concept of God. I did not need to find Him in a quiet moment in the Redwoods or atop the rocks at Lands End, the surf pounding in my ears. I knew He was always there, heck He had taken away the obsession. If He could do that, He was powerful enough in my book to do anything – almost.

Thus became the dilemma. Sure this power greater than I had flexed His muscles and relieved me of the obsession to drink, of that there was absolutely no doubt. My sponsor and I affirmed that reality in short order. He next presented the compelling and wonderfully logical argument that, if this Power was so great and it could relieve in me my obsession to drink, why would I not consider it powerful enough to turn my will and my life over to its care? Later in the process of working the Steps, succumbing to the same argument made taking the book down from the shelf, to contemplate the work so far done and Steps Six and Seven which were to now follow, so much simpler, so straightforward. But as the one days-at-a-time of this program keep marching along, I heard things like “More will be Revealed” and “Life on Life’s Terms” at my meetings. I paid particular attention to the warning that I would be in trouble if I were to think I had this program “wired” and could afford to rest on my laurels.

Since so much of what my sponsor shared with me had come to him through his own schooling in the class of hard knocks, I expected things could go South, even if I was fortunate enough, as I had been, to remain sober during and in spite of my early trials and tribulations. Though it seems not to be so with every alcoholic in recovery, many, as was the case with me, at one time or another do get some real challenges tossed in our path. It has been said that real growth can only come from confronting adversity and surviving it with integrity. So it was with the challenges with which I had to contend and my cases arose on several different battlefronts.

Though each of us likely have stories of our life’s struggles which we have overcome, it seems too that we can come to a junction, we can come to a line, a level of pain, a point in time were we just silently scream for all and none to hear: This is too much, it must stop or I cannot go on another step. As I hit that point I did so without Jose Cuervo, my former bodyguard, I was defenseless, I had no power. I thought I was doomed, all the imagined scenarios were ending up under a freeway ramp, alone, dying of cancer by week’s end.

This is where my disease was leading me in its ruthlessly cunning and oh so powerful way. Its lure had all the subtlety of the sounds of frivolity that Bill spoke of coming from that bar on the other side of the hotel lobby. Just as he was running out of nickels then, my disease was working me now, it was All-In on this deal. I was sober and had been for many moons. I was working my program, I had commitments, I sponsored other men, but I had not been cured of my alcoholism. I had just been living my daily reprieve in recovery. So when the crisis hit and hit hard, with wave upon wave of problems, for days without end, I got to the point where I was sure it would overwhelm me, where was I to turn.

This was when I really began to understand what gratitude truly meant. Gratitude for those who come before me, for those who started the Fellowship to which I now belonged, for those who held out the hand of sobriety at my meetings. I heard of their lessons learned and asked of myself the question they had suggested I pose When the Chips Were Down: What Steps could I apply to the challenges which confronted me. Although it had been years since I had “let” [ha, ha] my Higher Power restore me to sanity, I began to see in this intense adversity what the words “came to believe” were all about. For if I truly did believe in this God of my understanding, then I also had to know, I had to have come to the belief that, all would be well, despite my perceptions of the injustices which beset me and my fears of what the future had I store.

More had indeed been revealed. With the serenity of being at peace with the notion that all would be well, over time all was well. The complexities of the problems, seemed to melt into unexpected clarity. Instead of continuing to bang on the doors that had been welded shut against me, I saw new doors appear, these were ajar with hope, so that when pushed with honest action, they opened to resolution. All did not break my way, but my difficulties had been taken away. I was in the aftermath able to bear witness to the truth that When the Chips Were Down, I could turn to my Higher Power and know, really know, all would be well. This was a whole new attitude and outlook upon life, it was a promise made and a promise kept.

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