Today I celebrate 33 years of continuous sobriety. Last year I completely forgot about my 32nd year anniversary until someone reminded me. I had been overseas working for a month and spent August 4, of 2016 navigating a 15-hour travel schedule back to home in New Orleans. This year I have been thinking about my 33 years of sobriety a reasonable amount. Some of the reasons include:
- Over the past year I have been very actively engaged in regular Step Work, spending several weeks on each step, writing, thinking, discussing, living, and reincorporating the 12 Steps into my day-to-day existence. Although every day in sobriety I have remembered that I am an alcoholic in recovery, over the years I have also done more intensive refresher courses, as it were, to continue to grow and travel along my recovery road.
- This heightened sense of recovery in my daily existence has also led to an increased sense of gratitude. I am 65 years old. Without question, and with no intent for dramatic impact, were it not for my decision to follow a 12 Step program of recovery, I would have been dead long ago or locked up in prison for some alcohol related offense and living a life of forced sobriety. I know that I am not tough enough to be that stereotypical skid row drunk, and that was my trajectory before sobriety.
- I am also fully aware that everything – from the dog laying at my feet, to the back porch of my family’s home in New Orleans where I sit, to my formal retirement last year from a successful career, to my continuing professional activity today – none of that would be possible were it not for recovery.
- After I was sober for a couple of years, my mother asked me why I still needed to go to meetings and maybe I could just have a beer occasionally. Therein lies one of the greatest gifts of recovery – the 12 Step Program from which I will never graduate. Re-doing my Fourth Step a few months ago brought insights about my character of which I could not conceive when doing my first Fourth Step in 1984. Those insights allow me the opportunity to travel a recovery path today more aligned with a true self. That process never ends. As I proclaim in the title of this blog, recovery is truly a process and not an event.
- I have the opportunity to travel paths that my “contempt prior to investigation” in active addiction would never have allowed. My previous post is one such example.
- And today, I truly have a choice. I am no longer like the ball in a pinball machine after taking that first drink. Today, I can choose to prioritize how I spend my existence, living intentionally and with meaning.
I long ago resigned from the discussions about whether AA is cult, alcoholism is a disease, etc. etc. Those issues have no relevance to me. As I am fond of saying “If every breath I have ever taken has gotten me to exactly where I am today, I would not change a thing.” Today August 4, 2017, as I sit on my back porch in New Orleans and type these words into my laptop, 33 years after I checked myself into a detox center in Cincinnati, Ohio, I still would not change a thing.