Here is a story out of my archives that I wrote in 2001, my first year of recovery. It still gives me Goose Bumps.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and contentment to those who are struggling to live a life in recovery. I’m okay.
WHAT IT WAS LIKE
The first Christmas of my sobriety, my spirit felt like a wandering ship with no port of call. I was meandering aimlessly, and much like the ghost of Dickens Jacob Marley, I carried a crushing weight of chains formed from my deep, dark, resentments toward God, my apparent fate, and the people who had so wrongfully and bitterly disappointed me. Laden with cynicism, bitterness, and anger, I lived in a state of restless, irritable, discontentment. My body was suffering from uncontrollable weight gain as a result of Type II Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Chronic Insomnia and a myriad of other physical maladies. Alcohol had made both my physical and spiritual life so unmanageable; I felt Iâ€™d been given a view into the abyss of death. That Christmas, I had become the very visage of Ebenezer Scrooge. â€œBah! Humbug!â€
By my own foolhardy account, I had heroically saved my own life by agreeing to treatment. After release, I had bravely walked alone, through the doors of my first AA meeting. I did the 90/90 meeting program. Some days I needed 2 or 3 meetings, just to stay sober. Having read the book and done the first five steps in treatment, â€œI really didnâ€™t need any condescending, self-deprecating old dry drunk to sponsor me in anything, thank-you very muchâ€! I was told that I never had to be alone again, but I was just stubbornly fine by myself, â€œindeedâ€. I was sober, â€œdoing the dealâ€, and that was quite enough â€¦or so I thought.
The first Christmas and New Yearâ€™s I worked in the kitchen of the local Alcathon as much as I could. Though my efforts were acknowledged as service, I was really there because I lived alone, had no place else to go, and on those terms, was terrified of the compulsion to drink. I had turned my back on my family and friends. They had staged a nasty intervention, abandoning and betraying me in my hour of need. Since I was mistakenly convinced my resentments were totally righteous, I naturally deprived them of the sheer joy of my company. At least I was among the sick, like me. Delighted when both Christmas and New Yearâ€™s had passed, I was patronizingly grateful for having somewhere to endure them. â€Good Riddance to holiday rubbishâ€!
I despised The Promises.Â To me, they were idiotically extravagant. Were they being fulfilled among us? Perhaps, but let the weak and naÃ¯ve have their miracles. Quickly or slowly realized, they were the morphine of A.A. as far I was concerned. Bill W. mustâ€™ve been thinking he had to create some S&H Green Stamp Program to bolster the fortitude of the inherently unresolved, and to sell his â€œBig Book.â€
I knew better. It was just another battle of a lifelong struggle. Dignity, Honor, Love and Respect were to be the earned rewards through the endless but righteous suffering my fate left me to endure. I would do it, but there would be only rare pleasure in it. No leisure or rest for this soldier of sobriety. I accepted my lot,â€¦. begrudgingly of course.
At each meeting I would here How It Works from Chapter V of The Big Book. A voice would read, â€œWithout help it is too much for us, but there is one who has all power, that one is God, may you find him nowâ€. In desperation, I sought to find â€œthe God of my understandingâ€. Â Beginning to pray, I asked only for the removal of the compulsion to drink, and slowly, it was removed. One day, I realized itâ€™s near daily nagging was gone. It had simply vanished. During the few times it had ventured back into my consciousness, it would become more and more easily dismissed. I suddenly realized God was doing for me what I could not do for myself.
I embraced the program, opening my heart to the sober community. Soon, I met a woman in the fellowship whom I fell madly in love with. Then an excellent sponsor appeared for me. I got a Big Book, 12X12, other pieces of literature, and devoured them voraciously. I was feeling alive, my emotions were responding, and my health and well-being were returning. Everything seemed wonderfulâ€¦, until it all changed unexpectedly.
The love that I thought had come to complete me by Godâ€™s hand exposed her hidden side. Sheâ€™d been prospecting for gold, and in an overnight reversal dropped her feigned affections, having found a better vein to mine. I felt I had not only been deceived, but had lost my best friend and lover for she had proved to be neither and 1,000 miles away.
I clung to the program, grasping for my faith in God, but try as I might and pray as I did, I could not seem to escape the disappointment. Once again regret, remorse and resentments were finding their way back into my life. I was losing my faith in my God and had stopped praying only for the knowledge of his will and the power to carry it out. I was so afraid to â€œput it all on the line,â€ for I had felt abandoned by God once before in my life and it appeared I had fallen for the same â€œKool-aidâ€ again.
Still I believed. I believed that if I asked â€œonly for the knowledge of his will and the power to carry it outâ€, I would never be disappointed in the message of the 11th Step.Â Already, Iâ€™d experienced how I could depend on God for his help when the compulsion to drink had been removed. So I prayed, for the serenity to accept, the courage to change, and the wisdom to know. Though struggling, I hung onto my sobriety and my sanity.
The conditions became worse as the next Christmas approached. I became very ill. Then I experienced some financial difficulties. Though I was trying to hang on, I could feel my insane thinking re-emerging. Each morning and night, I prayed for a sign of Godâ€™s reassuring love, a strengthening power to shore-up my faith.
A month before Thanksgiving, my sponsor left on his fall vacation. Luckily, I met a very kind woman with 23 years in the program who agreed to act as my sponsor.Â She taught me how gratitude should be specified in a list, then referred to and added onto when we feel there is little to be grateful for. I will always keep that list and continue to amend it; â€œcounting my blessingsâ€.
Like the year before, I worked at The Alcathon kitchen on Christmas Day. While sitting down for a break, I caught site of a man walking up to the counter whom I had never seen though his face seemed so familiar. He came back into the kitchen and began talking to me, introducing himself only as Martin, (pronounced Marteen). He was a truck driver from Arizona who was just passing through. Having never been to my city before, Martin explained that he was an alcoholic in his ninth year of recovery. He had a soft voice and a gentle smile.
While making a point of trying to help him feel at home, I introduced him to everyone that came in the kitchen. We continued to talk while I was working, covering several subjects pertinent to my life and sobriety. It seemed we had a lot in common. When he spoke, it was calmly, almost reverently to me about spirituality. Using a gesture, he would point his finger up to the sky whenever he would speak of God, never mentioning him by name. In time, we had covered most of the dilemmas that were eroding my faith.
He was unusually kind and understanding. All during that time he was smiling, and from time to time impishly looking as if he had known me all along. I remembered a poster I had acquired in college called, â€œThe Laughing Jesus” and it struck me odd how much of a resemblance there was.
When I was done with my shift we sat at a table and talked of my lost love and her disappointing behavior. Martin explained to me that there were some things I would never know or understand and that that was okay. That was what Acceptance was all about. It had only been a small part of my life and not worth obsessing over. He then told me to be strong, and that he had faith in me; that he was sure that I would be all right. Tears welling-up in my eyes, it dawned on me that Martin was the miracle that I had asked God for. I had to leave then. We stood, and he hugged me like a brother. I could feel extraordinarily reassuring and unconditional love enveloping as my spirit was comforted.
We said goodbye. I turned and left. I walked a few feet and turned to waiveâ€¦, but he was gone. It seemed he had just disappeared. I was certain that he was there. Then I wondered, could it have been that he was just there for me? Not very much later, I returned to look for him. He was gone and there was no truck parked outside.
WHAT ITâ€™S LIKE NOW
Iâ€™ve told only a few people of this story; my sponsor and some others that I am close to. He was right. I do not have an explanation for some things, and as I recall Martin saying, Acceptance means: I donâ€™t need one for I may never have one. I know that for myself, I had been told many times at meetings of the fellowship, “Donâ€™t leave until you give the miracle a chance to happenâ€. In that chance meeting with Martin, I feel as though it may have occurred that Christmas Day. Like it had happened for Ebenezer Scrooge, the Spirit of Christmas Present had come to me in Martin, restoring my faith and giving me a chance to see life anew again.
Right now my faith is strong. When it becomes challenged again, I will think of Martin and how he came to visit me, renewing me with the message of spiritual awakening. He was doing for God what I could not do for myself, though I had asked. Given the chance, I will try to do the same thing for others.Â I write to you in the diminishing twilight of a January night sky, wishing each of you a Happy New Year, and a visit from your own angel,â€¦ your own miracle. If you hang around long enough, you just might enough faith and acceptance to receive it.
diana Krall – Counting Your Blessings 2005
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