Leaving an AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting about an hour ago, I feel so out of sorts.
A Destiny of Despair
A woman who is about my age, (59) had gone back to the bottle. In the meeting, she unabashedly shared “I don’t care if I am drunk. It was my destiny to be an alcoholic so here I go to fulfil it.”
She stood and staggered out of the church’s basement door, bumping into the door frame and nearly falling. The chairperson sent a man with many sober years after her to assure that she not drive.
The room was silent as many sat deep in thought, and one young lady burst into silent sobs. I leaned forward in my chair, slightly nauseous and definitely taken aback. My many years of sobriety felt shaken to the core as I knew that this happens from time to time. People slip and drink and/or drug again and it does affect many in the fellowship.
We are all in this battle together and when one of us hurts, many feel the sting of pain. In this case, said woman had rattled our proverbial souls and left us thinking, “What went wrong?”
Is There Hope for the Alcoholic?
Each sober fellow is an individual in his own right. It would be foolish AND degrading to say that anyone could answer that question absolutely. There are, however, ways to diminish one’s chances of picking up again.
- Attending meetings on a regular basis.
- Working with a sponsor of the same gender.
- Not starting a romantic relationship in the first year.
- Reading AA/NA’s literature.
- Working on spirituality as personally defined.
- Reaching for a Higher Power.
- Service to others.
- Community involvement.
- Diligently mastering the Twelve Steps (one at a time) at a comfortable pace.
I could spend all day wondering why someone I cared about decided to make a foolish choice, or I could consider it a reminder to myself not to take my sobriety for granted.
I know that, for me, it works if I work it. And since I believe that I’m NOT destined to continue living in my addiction, I resolve to focus on the common solution available to me.
Serenity: The Hope of Sobriety
I remember driving home from a meeting years back, I realized that I had a rather impish grin on my face. That grin was likely due to the fact that while I had rarely felt prepared to face the world, on this particular first day of many, I knew that I could and would live in the present and deal with, “Life on life’s terms.”
Serenity had found a home with me and I was extremely grateful that it had. Serenity is a noun defined as, “state of calm, serene.” Ah, but in my humble opinion it is much more.
“Drunk? High? They don’t compare to the freedom of knowing serenity.”
I see serenity as a state of mind that allows me to enjoy where I am while continually striving toward improvement. Life is better than it was, but we still want and need change. This is not the time to rest.
Working the AA program each day we come to realize that there isn’t a cure for alcoholism, as my fellow meeting member had realized. But instead of letting that drive us back into the disease, we can accept that it’s okay.
We don’t need to be “fixed,” what we need is a program that allows us to improve ourselves…mind, body and spirit.
One Day At A Time Is Enough
At one point, I truly believed that drinking and drugging were the only means to my survival—how terribly sad. Of course, life still has peaks and valleys and each day would bring forth struggles and challenges. But my serenity, my inner calm, came by living without mind-fracturing chemicals and by accepting the fact that I could get through without them.
My serenity came on the heels of AA and NA meetings, working with a counselor and by, “Letting go and letting God.” Now I see that peace of mind is an awesome and attainable state.
It wasn’t easy to grapple with, but that realization for me was HUGE. And worth every ounce of struggle along the way. Goodness, but that was wonderful! I thanked my higher power for this massive gift and understood that I now embraced hope.
Drunk? High? They don’t compare to the freedom of knowing serenity.
Living a sober life means that fundamentally, all is well. It means that even though my past is dark, I have a bright future. It means that I can choose hope.
And it means that I can go about with this silly impish grin on my face.
Author: Katie H. is a writer, recovering addict, and mother based in Connecticut.