July 7, 1998 is the first day I walked in to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I stayed.
The life that I’ve had over the past 14 years has been rich in living. I had stopped doing much living in the last few years of my alcoholism. I marked time. I had no idea that there was better way, but I found it with the help of a God who is beyond my understanding and through the fellowship of AA.
The life I lead today isn’t free from troubles. I’ve lost a husband and a child over these past years. I’ve changed jobs, had health troubles. But I’ve not found it necessary to take a drink to blot out the reality of my life. As my friend Bob says, he may not be a miracle but his sobriety in the face of life sure is. I agree with that.
I get to live it a day at a time and sometimes, as I found when my son died, a moment at a time. And what a life it is! My daughter Georgie and I are blessed with a relationship that is more honest and open and loving than I could have endured in my alcoholism. In the last five years of my drinking, my spirit was living in a boarded up house with rats chewing at the wires. Sobriety has let me open the windows of my soul and that has let me be a better mother than I could have been prior to July 7, 1998.
Today I’m camping with 2 of my 4 grandchildren and my daughter who are sleeping this early morning. So is Bob whose love and friendship challenge me to learn how to be a sober friend and partner. My 2 older grandchildren and their mom are a part of my life which I’m not sure I would have if I didn’t have sobriety. Not that they wouldn’t have wanted it; but, for me, alcoholism kept me isolated emotionally and spiritually with physical isolation being the collateral damage.
I have no idea what life has to give me, but I’m a participant today. I get to enjoy the credit for my good decisions and take responsibility for my bad decisions. I cut out the middle man who was always you, you, you. Much easier this way.
A friend sent me this prayer on my 11th sobriety birthday. It was found in the meditation book of a Confederate soldier but I’m not sure of the origin. It describes “what it was like, what happened, and what it is like today” better than I could.
A CONFEDERATE SOLDIER’S PRAYER
(Attributed to a battle weary C.S.A soldier near the end of the war)
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve;
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed.