There he sat, all alone feeling sorry for himself … would he drink? Or would he reach out?
After picking up a nine-month chip, I felt great. I had a sponsor, went to meetings every day and had worked up to the Ninth Step. This is where I stopped.
After unsuccessful attempts to make amends where I begged for forgiveness, I quit. The recurring memory of a friend looking at me and saying, “I forgive you … now bye,” haunted me and made me feel that I was not doing something right. My sponsor at the time did the best he could with his experience, but he had not been taught about saying, “I was wrong. What can I do to right the wrong?” His words, as I heard them were, “It’s all about change.” He did the best he knew how.
I had a good job at the time and was making enough money to get my own place. No more sleeping on Mom’s couch. (Thank you, Mom!) I did not have much to put in the new apartment, so I went to the furniture store to get a dining room table. Well, I came home with a table, chairs, a coffee table and an entertainment center—all on credit! I overspent what I had planned with the money available. After setting it all up, and feeling like I was finally moving up in the world, I sat back on the couch my grandfather had given me and gazed at it all. I felt empty again. Self-pity crept in, and in no time I started thinking about getting loaded. And it was New Year’s Eve. I had just gotten off the phone with my sponsor 30 minutes before this moment, bragging to him about my apartment and furniture. How empty I felt. The hole in my gut returned. The old solution came back.
Being powerless is a horrible feeling. Fortunately, that is one step before surrendering. Just like when I had my last drink and drug nine months before, I made my way to the bedroom, went to my God spot and pulled out the prayer pad. Crying to God for what seemed like a lifetime, I prayed over and over: “Please remove the obsession to drink and drug.” That’s all I remember. Man, I begged, but the obsession did not go away. I felt God had abandoned me. Why did he leave me after all this work and prayer?
That was December 31, 2000. Exactly one year before, I had relapsed for the first time after outpatient treatment. That New Year’s Eve, two AA friends had invited me to an alkathon at our clubhouse where there was a chance to do service. I remembered telling them thanks, that I would meet them later that night. But I didn’t. Also that day, the treatment center had a tipsy taxi phone bank and they had asked me to help out. But I declined; I said I was too busy. God was giving me two solutions and I turned them both down. How blind I was.
But God did not abandon me. This year I didn’t say no. I got in my car and drove over to that alkathon. I really did not want to drink. I believe a physic change had occurred in me as a result of working the Steps this year. My thinking had changed. This time I went out for fellowship.
I joined in with a group of people that included my first sponsor, and I tried to listen. But the obsession still seemed stronger than the conversation. I wasn’t hearing anything. Then all of a sudden, I blurted out, “I want to drink!” I don’t remember what was said after that, but I kept going up to people and saying the same thing, “I want to drink.” Lo and behold, out came the same two friends who, the previous year, had asked me to go to the alkathon with them. They approached me. One of the men, Ray, said, “Hey, why didn’t you call us?” I had no answer. They gave me two options: come sleep on their couch or share at the next meeting. No way I was going to show how weak I was in front of over 200 people. They smiled, hugged me and left. I guess that was tough love.
The next AA meeting started at 8 p.m. It was probably the largest one of the night and in a smoked-filled room. After the usual readings, the room got quiet. It seemed like 10 minutes went by, but it was probably 10 seconds. I shared pretty much the same thing as what you have just read. The next person shared about being at the gas station wondering if he should buy some beer or come to the alkathon. Someone shared that he had a 12-pack in the truck. A man with 18 years shared about how he still wanted to drink.
Finally, for the first time in the Fellowship, I did not feel alone. Wow, I was not the only person in the world with the mental obsession to drink. Praise God, I’ve not had the obsession since that day. I believe I finally surrendered to this disease. Like Bill W., I had met my match. I was powerless!
Just like Dr. Bob, I started working the Steps (making amends) with a willingness I never had before. I got together with Ray and asked him to help me to make amends. I thought he would say he was too busy, but instead, he said, “Come over tomorrow morning and let’s get started.” Three years later, I was finally finished with all my financial amends. The material had been replaced by the spiritual. It was more important to be right with my fellow man than to have certain material items. The shame, fear and remorse were replaced by the God-conscience they talk about in the Big Book. A spiritual awakening was happening.
Thank you, Alcoholics Anonymous. I’ll never forget that New Year’s Eve. You can find me at our alkathon every year at Club 12, helping out, listening to shares and hoping to help someone just like me.