What 33 Years of Sobriety Means Today

Looking from my back porch this morning.

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.

Thank You.

5 thoughts on “What 33 Years of Sobriety Means Today

  1. Wonderful Robert, I am happy for you, congratulations. Thank you for walking this path before us, sharing and reaching back. Often, when things are difficult, when I ‘Want it all and I want it now’ I realise ‘Process, not an event’ and think of you.
    xx, Feeling

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