I MADE IT ONE YEAR!!! And a couple days! Given the whole leap year thing, I figured I’d better add a couple days before going public. My sobriety date is 5/6/11.
I went to my AA Home Group meeting yesterday to get my one year chip. I’m still trying to figure out the role I want AA to play in my life. I think most people with my amount of time probably feel the same. I tend to enjoy meetings, but I also don’t agree 100% with “The Program”. I stopped going to meetings for a while because I was tired of looking backward and tired of hearing all the same stories, but in the last couple of months, I’ve returned and have been averaging one meeting a week. I like the meetings for the support network and the social factors- no one understands an alcoholic like a fellow alcoholic. But right now, I’m trying to treat AA as a tool in my sobriety toolbox. (It seems I’m back to that whole moderation thing in that regard, huh?). If you are wondering if AA is right for you, especially if you are actively drinking, trying to stop, or early in your sobriety, I would say to go, because it’s a good starting point and because it’s good to know you’re not alone. Just keep an open mind, and you’ll form your own opinions.
When they asked me at the meeting “how I did it” I remember the first thing I said was, “Well, with lots of practice.” I slipped a few times at the beginning; most of us do, and it’s okay. Each time just kept driving the point home that I cannot drink in moderation and that nothing good comes from me drinking. I went on to say that in the beginning I ate a lot of jelly beans. I mean A LOT OF JELLY BEANS. I was one big Jelly Belly. I know there’s a big link between alcohol and sugar cravings, though I haven’t really explored the science yet. After the jelly beans, I started to run. Then I ran more. And then I ran EVEN MORE. Not only did running help take off the pounds I’d gained from all the booze and jelly beans, but it also started doing really good things for my head. I started to feel good about myself, I started to enjoy setting running goals and then shattering them, I started to enjoy friendships based on our mutual love of running. I started to enjoy life. In addition to jelly beans and running, the other thing that helped me make one year, I said was prayer. Prayer and gratitude. I’m not religious, I’m not even super spiritual, but at the end of each night, I do close my eyes and say, “Thank you. Thank you for my sobriety and thank you for my blessings today.” I read somewhere that prayer does not change the receiver, but it does change the nature of the one praying.
“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.” ~ Meister Eckhart
In addition to prayer, I said that “I couldn’t have done it without the people In The Rooms, more specifically the people in This Room.” Over the last year and half, I shared more with those folks than I’d shared with most of my so-called friends through out my life. They were with me through some really rocky roads. They lent their shoulders to cry upon, their ears to listen when I just needed to ramble, they distracted me, they made me laugh, they became friends, and they reminded me that it’s okay, I don’t have to drink today. And somehow I strung a year full of todays together and stayed sober for a whole year (plus a couple days).
I didn’t share this in the meeting, but the other things that helped were I accepted and came to terms with the fact that I can never drink again. I had to remove the possibility of “one day” and of “if things get REALLY bad”. If you remove drinking as an option, then you are forced to find other ways to deal with why you drank in the first place. And the other thing (perhaps the biggest thing) is I have the support and love and energy of my mom helping me get through each day. She died just over a year ago, (a month and a half before my sobriety date), though I take comfort in knowing that she knew I was trying to stop drinking. She told me that she would help me however she could, and so I choose to believe that she is helping me, even in death, however she can.
So to wrap up: jelly beans, running, prayer- even if it is just saying “thank you”, a support network, acceptance of reality, and a little help from above. All these things helped me stay sober for the year. I’m looking forward to sharing my Year Two with you. But not my jelly beans. You have to get your own. Just kidding, I’ll share… Have a wonderful day!