Twenty-eight years ago today, I woke up in desperation (again), and asked God for help. I made a phone call and was greeted by a young man who arranged to have a woman call me back to talk with me. When she called me back, I felt understood for the first time in my life. I had been to doctors, psychiatrists, priests, nuns, chiropractors, and counselors of every stripe. But I had never spoken to anyone who talked openly about their own alcoholism, and in that single connection, I was able to talk openly about mine. For the first time in my life. She took me to a meeting that evening and I met an entire fellowship of people just like me! They told me at that first meeting “you never have to take another drink again, if you don’t want to.” I couldn’t conceive of such a thing at the time. I had drank nearly every day from the time I started at 14. I drank every single day from the time I was 18 until I was 32 (with the exception of my pregnancies, God graced me with having a distaste for cigarettes and alcohol when I was pregnant).
I have never had another drink since July 24, 1984, when I made that call and went to my first meeting.
I consider this pure Grace straight from God. I didn’t wake up one day and say, “I will pull myself up by my bootstraps and start livin’ right, dad gum it! And I ain’t gonna drink ever again!” I was absolutely despondent and defeated. I had no power.
Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. — We Agnostics, p. 45
Once I had a full knowledge of my condition and my powerlessness, I asked God for help. And was given the power to humbly go about not drinking – one day at a time, helping others, and through the process of the twelve steps, restoring my life.
When I was told I could choose my own conception of God, I was amazed. I revised my childhood belief in a God I was terrified of. I chose an image of a loving God. When I was sober 7 years, the sponsor I loved called me and told me she was drinking again, so I had to find a new sponsor. My one condition for the new sponsor? That she not be a practicing Catholic, so deep was my resentment towards my childhood faith. I asked a woman I respected. She was a lesbian. English was not her first language and every other word out of her mouth was “fock.” She went to meetings every day and practiced these principles. Imagine my shock the first time we met as sponsor to sponsee and she asked me how long I had been sober – I said seven years. She told me, “you’re Catholic, aren’t you?” – I said yes. She had the absolute nerve to say to me, “Don’t you think it is time you go back to church?” Those three questions changed my life, and gave me a new bedrock of my sobriety.
And when I went back to church, I found that the terrifying God was the God of my creation. I had taken little tidbits and extrapolated them into a horrifying image of a cruel and punishing God, the God I created in my image. After a few years of going to church every Sunday, I took the leap and went to confession for the first time in many, many years. Then I took the leap into trying to live by some principles that were actually demanding and required sacrifice on my part. I have not been perfect, by any means, but I ask God to help me be the person he wants me to be. Through studying the Bible over the years, I found that the book I found so terrifying was actually full of God’s forgiveness. That Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Rahab, Peter, and Paul were all as deeply flawed as I am. And God loved these people! I didn’t know that!
So, here I am. Gratefully 28 years sober. My sobriety has been full of fits and starts. The road has been bumpy. There was a time I would have told you my story and tied it in a neat little bow. But God wasn’t done with me yet. He still isn’t. I am still on this journey. It has been a bit rocky for a while now. But I have God. And I have my sobriety still. And I have the faith that God has me in the palm of his hand and will get me through this time, as he has all the others. And that I will have grown and learned. It seems the hard times are better for learning and growing than the easy times.
I am grateful to have this blog and its small readership. I can no longer be a mouthpiece for the fellowship I am so grateful to. My story is not shiny and neat. There is not yet a pretty bow on it. I need to own who I am today. Not as an example to anyone, just as who I am. Some people find that inspirational, some people don’t. That is OK. I can just be the best person I am capable (with God’s help) of being today.
From the bottom of my heart, I am grateful for 28 years of living sober in this world. Thank you God.