1 03, 2021

My Three Sponsors

by Carla H

Audio by the author

My first sponsor came up to me at the end of a meeting and offered to be my sponsor. I said, “No, thank you.” She proceeded to tell me I would be saving my own life, which made me cry. She also said, “You can fire me any time. Let’s have coffee first. See if you like me.” Something like that. So I said all right. That made it a lot easier. We had coffee and I said, “Yes, please be my sponsor.”

We worked together for a little while and she asked, “What would you go out on? Would it be alcohol or drugs?” I said it would be drugs. She said, “I’ve never done drugs. All I’ve ever done is drink. You need to find a sponsor who has done coke so that if you go out, she’ll know.” I thought, hmmm, OK. I found a woman who had done a lot of coke. She agreed to be my sponsor. We worked together for a few months.

She had cats, two of them, and we met in her apartment. So I would be unable to breathe

Both of these sponsors had cats, two of them each, and we met in their apartments. No one ever said, you can meet in a coffeehouse. You can meet in public. They never said that. I was allergic, and so I would be unable to breathe after a couple of hours with the cokehead sponsor. I told her I was not going to be able to work with her anymore.

After a couple of hours I was unable to breathe

It took me a couple of months to find my third sponsor. I asked one woman who turned me down and I was horrified. I didn’t know you could turn people down, but she did.

Then at the same meeting where I found my first sponsor, I found my third one. Eight years later, she is still my sponsor. She was sitting behind me with someone I knew a little bit from meetings. She raised her hand as available as a sponsor and I went right up to her after the meeting. I told her I’d had two sponsors before and how much time I had. She said, “OK, I’ll be your sponsor.”

She doesn’t scare me anymore

We’re still working together today. I didn’t know who she was in the beginning—I just liked her look. I liked the way she wore clothes. She had a long nose and big white teeth, and I like those things in all people. She scared me for the first three years we worked together because I thought at any moment the other shoe was going to drop. But it never did. And like I said, we’re still working together today.

She doesn’t scare me anymore. I call her every night and leave a message that I’m sober today, one thing I’m grateful for, one way I took care of myself, and if I prayed or meditated that day. I do a 10th Step. I tell her which meeting I’m going to next. And I do it for me, thank you.

1 03, 2021

Step 3 Opens Doors

by Marcello C-B

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.” This was not a hard decision for me to make as I started with step one, then followed with two and finally step three. In my mind, when I started to do the third step I thought it was impossible, just too hard. After all we are charged with putting one foot in front of the other until we bring ourselves to turn over our will and our lives to a higher power. Once this step has been accomplished all the others will begin to fall into place.

My path to understanding God this time around was very open minded. I took him into my heart willingly. From that moment on he has continued to be in my life to the fullest. Many aspects haven’t been easy because my past decisions have not been the best. Today I continue to separate myself from the people, places and things that corrupted me in the past. I’m grateful for that today.

I thought I was dependent on people until I studied more and examined the idea thoroughly. New doors open up, and they continue to open up widely. In reality I’m not dependent on certain people I thought were in my life. The reality is that I have been depending on myself since I was 17. Most of my past dependence revolved around women, so I’ve now gone without being in a relationship for awhile now. This is a great way to break the dependency habit. Perhaps I depended on women because to me they seem softer, more in touch with emotion in their own way.

Doors that were once shut have opened

I have been working on getting my act together for a while, consequences have hit and I recognize them today. Now I am more in touch with my own emotions. Truth be told, you can’t move forward if you’re going to continue to carry the junk from the past. This is the main reason why we do a thorough, balanced fourth step.

Having a place to live, getting a vehicle, having my family back

Doors that were once shut have either opened up or just stayed shut, which is OK. I know nothing good can come from some of the ones that stayed shut. For example, my girlfriend and I had to part ways because we were hurting each other. When we were together, we were like a ticking time bomb.

On the positive side, a lot of doors have opening, like having a place to live, getting a vehicle, credit, having my family back in my life, and bigger dreams. What were once only dreams are reality today thanks to the steps.

1 03, 2021

Circling the Drain

by Jillian E

Although at the time I would not have agreed with what I am about to say, when I first came to AA, I was a self-centered, emotionally immature woman. I was depressed, full of fear and unbearably unhappy. I didn’t really think alcohol was my problem, but I read a book about an alcoholic woman and had many of the same symptoms that she talked about. So I called a friend I knew was in AA and asked her to take me to a meeting.

The steps and traditions were on the wall at that first meeting, and when I saw the word God in the third step, I knew that AA would not work for me. But there were so many happy, smiling faces at that meeting. I was attracted to that and I wanted more of it. I also felt safe and accepted, which were two feelings I did not feel very often, and I craved them. 

As a 12-year-old child at my parents’ funeral, I was told by my grandmother that there was no such thing as God. She told me no God would have taken my parents from me and her only daughter from her. I believed her, of course I did. We believe so many things our parents, teachers and society teach us as we grow up in this world (that’s a whole other article). Because of this belief, I knew AA was not going to work but I stuck around for two years, going to meetings and playing the game. Miracle #1 was that for two years, I didn’t drink. Didn’t even think about it. I made friends—But AA won’t work for me. I felt mostly happy and was getting along successfully in life—But AA won’t work for me. That little negative mantra finally became my truth when I drank two years later. I finally had the proof that AA won’t work for me.

I spent 11 years circling the drain

I spent 11 years circling the drain. Unhappy and depressed, I could still keep it together for all the world to see but I was completely miserable on the inside. Life became unbearable. I thought of leaving the planet. I searched my own mind for a solution and a tiny voice kept saying, “Go back to AA.” For a long time I dismissed it. Really, it was self-centered fear and pride that kept me from going back for such a long time. When finally I could not stand myself another day, I went to the Saturday Novato women’s meeting called Intimate Feelings. It is still my home group today.

I could keep it together for all the world to see

At the meeting I made a decision that I would do whatever was suggested. I got a sponsor. I took commitments. I did the steps with that sponsor. And again all the blessings that happened the first two years began to filter back into my life. I kept complaining that I didn’t “get the god angle.” Finally a friendly, helpful woman asked me if I still craved alcohol. This was one of my big issues during those 11 years—I constantly craved alcohol. I had to think about it for a few minutes, but I realized that I had not craved a drink since that fateful day that I surrendered (Miracle #2).

I started to believe that maybe, just maybe there really was a Higher Power, a GUS (Great Universal Spirit), or a GOD (Group of Drunks) that could restore me to sanity. And as the Twelve and Twelve says in Step 2, “I can’t say upon what occasion or upon what day I came to believe, but I certainly have that belief now. To acquire it, I had only to stop fighting and practice the rest of A.A.’s program as enthusiastically as I could” (p. 27). This was Miracle #3.

It is still my home group today

Since the day I made the decision to come back to AA, I have had more miracles in my life than I can possibly recount. I like to call them god-shots. Some are small and barely noticeable, like a subtle underlying peace in my everyday life. Some are big and flashy, like finding the love of my life in the rooms and being gloriously, happily married for over four years now. That is no small miracle indeed.

I make a concerted effort to turn my will and my life over every day. They say that you have to work the program so the program can work you. I have acquired willingness, openness and honesty by working the steps. I use prayer, meditation and a lot of 11th step reading and exploring. I read anything that helps me to believe and feel that my life is in divine order unfolding into goodness (a quote my husband uses all the time). In closing, I want to say that if a woman like me, who absolutely refused to believe in a Higher Power can come to believe and make a decision to surrender, so can you. You really can.

1 03, 2021

Smashing the Delusion

by Rick R.

As a kid approaching adolescence, I had my first encounter with alcohol, and it did something for me I had never experienced before. It brought a degree of peace and serenity in those first few minutes that I could not dismiss. It started me on that road to fantasy land that, thank God, only lasted 14 years. I was quick to burn through those years, starting with lampshade drunkenness. Then my tolerance started to develop to the point that I was pretty good at drinking until the black-out phase. That wasn’t a pretty sight. My first wife left me.

For the next two years I went through a self pity phase, hung out in bars, got into fights, got locked up, and cried in my beer a lot. I spent much of that time promising to one day evolve into a responsible adult and put all of it behind me. One day I woke up from a black-out and realized if I didn’t do something about my drinking, I was going to die a young and horrible death. I threw in the towel, called AA and started this journey.

As I look back now, I understand why alcohol had the effect on me that it didn’t have on nine out of ten of the others that I drank with in those early days. We were all partying and the alcohol masked the differences. They enjoyed it, all right, but they went home and went to work the next morning. I went right back to the bar again in search of the euphoria I’d experienced the first time I drank.

Once our tolerance for alcohol is depleted, it never returns

After years of sobriety it occurred to me that the drink quelled those fears and inhibitions we alcoholics face each morning, but normal drinkers don’t seem to. That is what makes us different. Once our tolerance for alcohol is depleted, it never returns. That is the hardest fact for us to face. 

No real alcoholic ever recovers control

In Chapter 3 of the Big Book, it states that the delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed. We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control. Like those who have lost their legs “they never grow new ones” (P. 30). In my early days of sobriety, most of the meetings I attended read a portion of Chapter 3 as well as the portion of Chapter 5. That portion of the book drives home the true nature of this disease. They stopped reading at the words: ad infinitum. I suggest that a person read one more paragraph after that. That always brought home the fact that I was responsible for my own recovery. If I had a desire to stop drinking, AA could help me accomplish that. By no means will it work for me until I accept that devastating fact.

The abnormal fears I faced in the beginning of my journey are no longer a problem. I embraced the program in the spirit suggested to me. All I need to do to have them return is to rest on my laurels and ignore the wisdom of those who came before me. That is not going to happen here. I may be sick, but I’m not foolish. We get a daily reprieve based upon the maintenance of our spiritual condition. As long as I have days left to live, I am not finished.

1 03, 2021

Poem: On the Horizon

by John W

How long it had been he could no longer tell 

Since his ship had sunk in that horrible storm 

This island salvation his heaven, that he was alone, his hell. 

His busy life had sunk with his ship, loneliness now his norm. 

So when that day a wisp of smoke on the horizon he saw, 

Down familiar paths, almost forgotten his mind had raced. 

How to attract their attention, how to span this gaping maw? 

By a flotsam and jetsam beacon of fire he hoped to be traced. 

Frantically he plied the now dried wood with torch close at hand. 

To escape this forsaken isle all his brain could envision. 

Too long had he suffered, too long he had been alone in this land. 

From this hell of loneliness he would be done, a man on a mission. 

The gathering clouds would not blind them, they would see his light. 

Higher and higher went the logs, it seemed each matched a day in exile. 

His torched beacon now an inferno, blazing into the darkening night,

 He screamed for their attention, caring not if their senses he did defile. 

The panic that possessed him blossomed into virtual insanity 

As failure loomed more clearly than salvation on the horizon.

His mission doomed, his fate revealed, his loneliness again his reality. 

His tears by now uncontrollable, in torrents down his face did run. 

No wonder the eyes in the bushes he could not, would not see. 

Nor the voices of the others close by he could not, would not, hear. 

For marooned he was not, his loneliness his choice to be 

Even though surrounded by people whose presence he did fear. 

But he had longed to escape them, from their humanity flee 

When his chance appeared he grasped it, like one overboard a ring at sea. 

His insanity so complete, fear he projected in all he could hear and see. 

He harbored no one who would shed a light on his “marooned” fantasy. 

He came to, again, relieved he had laid in enough spirits for this day. 

He inhaled the first drink, then quickly the next two with no delay. 

Tomorrow, if it came, would be another challenge, another day. 

The calm settled in, alone in this motel room, rescue just a balcony away. 

1 03, 2021

Hope Springs Eternal

by Anonymous

“Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” wrote Alexander Pope (“An Essay on Man,” 1732). Upon entry into these rooms for the last time, before the program began to work for me, this principle rang hollow in my breast. I hoped simply that by attending the 7:00 a.m. meeting prescribed by my spouse, it would bring an end to the nagging. This was becoming a daily routine from my wife who was at wit’s end with the sot she had married. While my outsides certainly could have been described as all I had ever hoped for in life, from a successful business, to a “happy” marriage and three beautiful children, surrounded by a close extended family that loved me, on the inside I was dying, literally. My physician had been expressing his concern for my distressing physical symptoms. These were no longer occasional complaints, but regular observations from one visit to the next. In my heart I had no hope for their improvement. Rather, I hoped only that they were random flare-ups that simply coincided with my doctor appointments. This was the depth of my denial. This was the extent of my “hope.” That the symptoms were due to my alcohol consumption completely eluded my thinking, despite all evidence to the contrary.

If they could do it, I could, too

I showed up at the 7:00 a.m. meeting daily. I still could not manage to stop drinking. First came a new sense of hope. Somehow this program of suggestions might possibly work for me the way it had for those I heard each morning. These people with whom I could easily relate, neighbors I did not know, shared their experience of success against that first drink. This gave me hope. If they could do it, I could, too. 

Slowly, and not without challenges, hope blossomed

Slowly, and not without challenges, hope blossomed. The wreckage of my drinking past began to fall away. First the marriage, then the lost custody struggle, and finally the business (once so booming). Each passed away as sober days passed, slowly, one day at a time. I hoped through it all that my future might not be as the handwriting on the wall of life deemed I should expect. But my higher power had other plans for the chapters in my life’s book. As one challenge after another was confronted, I relied more heavily on the experience of my group of drunks. Through the strength in their stories, I gained the hope that I could walk through obstacles sober. And I could share the legacy from those who had gone before me. I could live with the integrity and dignity of a sober man, a sober ex-husband, and a sober dad. As I made living amends for my drinking past, I hoped I could fulfill them with the same devotion I found in my sponsor and those in our fellowship who had what I wanted.

I hoped I could carry the message

Another facet: as opportunities for service were presented to me, my hope was that I would be useful in accepting them. I hoped I could carry the message in a way the still suffering alcoholic could hear. Or simply reach the drunk, like me, who needed to know they were not alone in their struggles. 

In those moments of life on life’s terms, I got a glimmer of what hope really meant. I hoped the new man would hear the message and not take that first drink today. No longer was there a cacophony in my mind. It was replaced by one beautiful strain, one common theme tolling, “You are not alone. If I can do it, you can, too.” This was indeed hope springing eternal for me and for the rest of my group.

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