1 08, 2022

Sunlight of the Spirit

By Dede H

I sit in the sun every morning
Light streams into my forehead
Behind my eyes a radiance
It is energy, love, and peace
I carry this gentle joy with me
Throughout the day I Am
Grateful, mindfully recalling
the exuberance that found me
struggling and in despair
reacting inanely to this world
What is true transformation?
Spiritual understanding anew
of how to live in this world
Without malice nor deviance
but with a love everlasting
and at once fierce—I will know
I am positive and take action
Doing the next right thing
Seeing the world through
my own Higher Power’s eyes

1 08, 2022

Birthday Surprise

By Karen B.

I got sober in the pink room at the Dry Dock on Greenwich St. in San Francisco. If you’ve been, then you know. Just a small pink room that is always there, holding all the secrets of my peers, ready and willing to catch the tears of all those bent, broken and beautiful people. I found it by accident during an appointment with my psychiatrist. I went one day, and kept coming back. Now I’m here with a relapse and nine years of continuous sobriety under my belt. It’s funny how things happen that way, like happy little accidents. “God shots,” as I have come to call them. Moments of puzzle pieces of the universe coming together in the most perfect way at the perfect time. Like the time in that very same pink room when I met my birthday twin. 

If memory serves me correctly, it was a random rainy evening, I was early in sobriety and desperate for relief. My beacon of light, with a meeting at the top of almost every hour, the Dry Dock, summoned to me for yet another speaker discussion. The speaker had a head of fiery red hair and a quirky style that made my heart smile. As she spoke she wove a tale of debauchery and mischief far from my truth, yet each emotion rang true for me. As it often happens, her experience, strength and hope reached into my desperation and helped it dissipate. That urge to self medicate and relieve me of the bondage of self was quelled in our shared experiences.  She spoke of her trials during sobriety and she shared about the gifts and the beauty she found in her every day activities. I felt renewed in my zeal and injected with enthusiasm for one more minute, one more hour, one more day—one day at a time. I was encouraged and rejuvenated. The “can do” attitude was infused into me that night. 

This beautiful woman got sober on July 13, 1984, the very day that I was born into this world. At the time I was too shy to ask for her phone number, but I was eager to let her know that she had been sober for as long as I had been alive. 

Years later, on the very same forum that I found out about The Point, someone asked for everyone’s sobriety date and to my surprise she shared hers in the comments. I reached out to her and reminded her of the day that we met. I thought that she wouldn’t remember me, just a passing moment in a collection of years for her. To my surprise, not only did she remember me, but she even wrote about meeting me in a submission that was published in the Grapevine

We’ve become friends on social media and greet each other happy birthday every year. Our paths crossed for a reason and I am so grateful to have her as an example that one day at time has been working for someone for as long as I have been alive. As long as I keep working my program one day at a time, then maybe one day I will be able to meet someone who was born on July 10, 2013—my sobriety date. 

1 08, 2022

The Speed of Life

The Bad Days are but Distant Memories

By Rick R.

I am seven years old and every adult in my immediate environment is drinking daily and it is not hard for me to get a taste of beer, if I wanted, but I do not necessarily like the taste, so no problem. I am 10 years old and beer is beginning to taste better but still not my favorite, but a little sip of whiskey now and then tastes okay but it is harder to get the adults to give it up. I am 13 years old and my friend and I talk an old drunk into buying us a few quarts of beer and we commence to get drunk for the first time in our lives and now I know why all those adults drink this stuff every night. I was giddy, sloppy, stupid, sick and eventually unconscious. I woke up the next morning and went off to school with a nasty hangover. I was in the eighth grade at that time. Still, it was no problem.

From that time on my mind was consumed with thoughts of how I was going to repeat that wonderful experience. As I started high-school I worked in a bowling alley from 6:00 p.m. until 10:30 p.m., setting up pins (in the old days) and when we got off, we would go straight to a sleazy bar where we could get someone to buy beer for us. From there, we would go to an abandoned school building and drink till all the beer was gone, get into fist fights with each other, wake up the next morning with black eyes, skinned up knuckles and elbows, go back to school and come up with some ridiculous story about what had happened.

I am 16 years old, and I am allowed to party with the adults and shortly after getting my driver’s license, I am asked to drive someone home and on the return trip, I missed a turn and smashed into a parked car. I continue to drink unabated. I quit school in May of my senior year with almost no resistance, join the navy in August of that same year, get locked up for gang fighting, have my second drunk driving accident when I drive into a gas station and hit a car at the pump.

I continue this kind of behavior for 10 more years and am lucky to have survived after more trips to jail, failed marriage, broken bones, cuts and bruises and broken relations with everyone that means anything to me. I am 28 years old, surrender and show up at A.A. coming out of a blackout. I am greeted on the front lawn of a little yellow house in the suburbs that is being used to hold meetings by three people who welcome this stranger with open arms as though they are expecting me. They began to listen patiently to my tales of woe, nodding as they seem to understand. Their eyes are soft and gentle and I feel their compassion.

At the early age of 28, I believed my life is over, but one of them says “life isn’t passing you by nearly as fast as you think it is.” They say, come inside and have a cup of coffee. They were right: I had a profound change of perception. From that moment on I have never wanted a drink and all those bad days are but a distant memory. My hope is that all who arrive at the doors of A.A. can be accepted with the same love and kindness that I experienced. I have been sober 52 years. I am 80 years old—on my way to 100—and life is good.

1 08, 2022

Members, New Members, and Guests

“A. A. is not for everybody” “A. A. doesn’t work for me.”

When we hear these from someone, how do we react?

By Jamie M.

Once at a meeting I heard a young man talk about having been sent to rehab and returning home to live with his parents. He had been told that the price of free rent—no small thing in the Bay Area—was that he had to attend A.A. meetings. He told his mom, “I can’t be a member of A. A. because the requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.” The mom, who I suspect had some Al-anon under her belt, replied, “Then go as a guest!” That got a laugh, of course, because we all knew by the way he told the story he had decided he was a member after all.

How often have we heard people say that “A.A. is not for everybody?” We have encountered folks in meetings, perhaps coming back from a slip, who may have said “A.A. doesn’t work for me.”Well, if you’re reading this it’s pretty likely that you think A.A. is for you and that it works for you. So if you’re like me, you may think “I don’t care if people think A.A. is not for them, because I know it is for me and I also know that it works for me, so what do I care about what those people say?” After all, our Tenth Tradition states that we have no opinion on outside issues, right? And we all know the old saying that the Program isn’t for people who need it, the Program is for those who want it. But if you’re like me, you recognize that you needed the Program long before you decided to want it.

Here’s the wrinkle, though: if I am an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous, then a key part of my own sobriety is working with newcomers—the alcoholic who still suffers. So that means I may meet these statements again and again working with newcomers—or just talking to a stranger at a meeting. When I greet someone at a meeting, they might be a member, a new member or a guest.

Of course, many of us will have our own personal stories about how we dealt with the questions, “Is A.A. for me?” and “Will A.A. work for me?” When we share our personal experience of how we dealt with these issues, we’re generally on solid ground. But how we share can be just as important as what we share. I was captured by Big Book thumpers on first coming to the Program and didn’t know it, of course, until weeks later. I was willing, I was open-minded about whether or not the Program could work for me. Honesty, I’ll admit, came a bit later. So when someone says A.A. is not for them or not for everybody, I mostly just nod and agree. But I also remember that when I first went to those first few meetings, the absence of sales pressure was intriguing to me. In a world where we are under relentless, ubiquitous pressure to take sides, to join, to buy, to advocate for or against causes, the absence of that was a mystery and it felt sort of like when you go to push open a heavy door and it turns to have no weight—I sort of fell in to the Program. Partly because of this, it worked quickly and well for me.

Because I was a bona fide “pink cloud” member, there was a time when I was insufferable and might have sharply asked, “Then why are you here?” if someone expressed doubt about the Program—and perhaps condemned some court-ordered alcoholic to years more of suffering just to avoid self-righteous jerks like me. In some ways, my lack of doubt about whether or not A.A. was for me, or whether or not it would work for me were potential handicaps in working with newcomers—or talking to guests.

With someone who is at a meeting or someone I’ve met socially says, “A.A. doesn’t work for me,” I can take a relaxed approach of asking in all sincerity what the person has done and not done to get and stay sober. I can hope to add helpful suggestions, as well as sharing that I’ve known people to simply go to a lot of meetings and hang out a lot with sober people without getting a sponsor or working Steps. I may not tell them (yet) that people typically end up getting a sponsor and working Steps. If they come around enough, they’ll find out for themselves. If someone is court ordered I’ve told them to get legal counsel and fight the case instead of coming to A.A. When they say they don’t have the money, I agree that going to meetings is definitely cheaper than fighting a court case and sympathize with their plight. Like those who 12th-Stepped me, I can thank the person for allowing me to talk to them and honestly say that it helps me stay sober. When I’m polite and welcoming to our guests they may be intrigued as I was and they may decide they want to be members.

1 08, 2022

Getting Your Life Back

By Christine R.

“You aren’t giving up the booze, you are getting your life back.” That’s what “Happy” said to me as I trudged through the door of happy destiny. Happy lived up to her name. She was always irritatingly, inspiringly and invariably happy. A sponsor to many and a warm welcome to newcomers like me.

While at a meeting recently, I shared this little quote. The following morning, a woman with only three days of sobriety revealed how the words saved her from drinking the night before.

Here is her story: “Yesterday was my daughter’s 14th birthday. For dinner, she wanted to go to her favorite Mexican restaurant in San Francisco, on Valencia St. Last night, with the summer evening being soft and fine and COVID standards still in place, everyone was dining outside. Block after block, margaritas were flowing everywhere. Everyone was drinking but me. At first I was upset, angry and envious. How come those people can drink and I can’t? What’s  wrong with me that I can’t have a drink? Then I remembered, ‘I’m not giving up anything. I’m getting my life back.’ It saved me. 

Later on at my daughter’s birthday party, party goers noticed how much better I looked. How much happier and collected I seemed. All because I did not pick up that first drink. All because I saw I was getting my life back.” As the newcomer said those words, I could again see and hear my friend, Happy. More deeply understanding how she acquired her name, listening to this pass-it-on experience, I was Happy. In the chapter Working With Others, our Big Book says we work with other alcoholics … “to live and be happy.” Here was living proof that morning we were alive and happy. 

In our Program, we don’t know which phrase or sentence will sustain us in rough going. Sometimes it’s “Easy does it.” Or “This too shall pass.” Our disease is one of perception. How we view things determines a successful or not so successful outcome. Running out the door without my glasses, I can chide myself and say, “Shoot! I forgot my glasses.” Or I can be uplifted in the memory and say, “Thank God, I remembered my glasses.” Either way, I’m right. I can look at giving up drinking as giving up something. Or I can view it like I’m “getting my life back.”

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