I HAVE BEEN sober in AA for nearly five years, and a great deal has happened since my first meeting.
I tried to follow the Steps to the best of my ability for the first few years. I was working at a menial job, which yielded a menial pay check. I was single and living with three other people in a run-down house in a university town. My car was old and barely running. My social life outside of AA was nonexistent, my future looked pretty grim.
But I was told to get on my knees each day and thank God for a sober day. I was told that the lively social life, the new cars, the fancy apartments, the prestigious jobs did not matter. What did matter was that I did not pick up one drink for one day was grateful for my new-found physical, mental, and spiritual sobriety.
I practiced being grateful each day. I say “practiced” because, when I was an active alcoholic, my attitude disposition had never been predisposed to being grateful and positive. So I practiced saying the words, and pretty soon I began to believe them.
Several years went by, and my life took amazing turns. I returned to school and, by the grace of God, was able to earn a master’s degree. Again by the grace of God. I met and married a wonderful man who is also a recovering alcoholic. I acquired a new job, and I went to live in the house that I had always wanted.
I wish I could say that I lived happily ever after. But I soon encountered severe problems, all of which were a consequence of my attitude. I allowed my job to take precedence over AA principles, and in a short time, I was returning from work with self-pity and negative attitudes reminiscent of my old drunken self. I put the job and other materialistic elements above my sobriety. I snapped at my husband, cut back on meetings, closed the Big Book, and refrained from calling my sponsor.
One day, I came home from work with extreme anxiety, a nervous stomach, and a desire to escape. Translated, all of that means “drink.” Then, I remembered something that my husband once said at a meeting: “Anything you put before your sobriety, you’re going to lose.”
Thank God, I remembered that. (If I hadn’t, my husband would have reminded me.) I see now that mundane things are nice, but certainly not necessary to make me kind, serene, and sober. My priorities were surely out of whack. I forgot from whence I came.
I hope that from now on I will be able to maintain the proper attitude and order of business in life: AA first, all else second.