We interrupt my story to bring you: my thoughts on thirty days of sobriety.
I’m picking up a chip tomorrow. Again. I probably have close to as many thirty day chips as I do desire chips at this point; that is to say, enough to make a fucking charm bracelet or two. But somehow, someway, something is different this time. Or at least, it feels that way.
I’m not sure I could pinpoint for you the exact moment I could tell something was astray from past attempts at sobriety, but I can tell you at which point I had a break through in a relationship with my higher power, which I believe to be essential to recovery. This happened at some point in the beginning of my third week of sobriety.
I had been at the Magdalen House (Maggie’s, as it is affectionately called) for around three days when I first heard Caroline speak. Her talk annoyed me to high hell. I couldn’t quite pin point what about it bothered me so much, but I went outside after her meeting, puffing on a cigarette, bitching. I knew, even then, that there was something wrong with me if I found fault with her, but I still had no clue what I even saw wrong with her. I discovered the next day that the thing I had found so irritating, so irksome, was her continual use of the word God. You see, I had been raised to ‘know’ God. In fact, my father is Mormon and my mother is a Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher (they are very proud of their alcoholic, lesbian daughter) so I had every opportunity one can possibly have to know God. I tried and tried, to no avail, to build a relationship with this mystical, magical being, and eventually gave up on it all. In fact, I had what would be considered one or more grudges against God. After three years of AA, the help of multiple sponsors, and countless third step prayers (“God, I offer myself to Thee […] May I do Thy will always!”), I seemed to be making no progress on the God-front. I was no closer to God than I had been when I’d first decided to swear off drinking for good and all.
On my ninth day at Maggie’s, (I’d been admitted at seven days sober, so I was around sixteen days sober) Caroline came back to speak again. Her talk was similar. She used the word God as many, if not more times. I took two pages of notes. You see, something happened in those six days at Maggie’s. I listened in those four or five meetings we were required to attend, to those recovered (yes, I said recovered, a taboo term in most AA circles) alcoholics. They had what I wanted, without a shadow of a doubt. They had recovered from alcoholism. They were sober, and happy about it. Their lives had purpose. They had few things in common, but what they did share was huge: they had all worked the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as they are outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, and they all believed that the steps were a pathway to a power greater than themselves rather than a pathway to sobriety.
So, in those six “magical” days, I stopped trying to get sober, and started trying to get to God. I got a new sponsor. I did another third step prayer, and this time, I gave it all the effort of a dying person- which is exactly what I was. When it came time to do my fourth step, I dug deep, finding something like seventy one resentments compared to the thirty five I’d listed on the fourth step I’d done a little over a month before. I poured my heart and soul into my fifth step, literally got onto my knees for my seventh step, and am giving my ninth step everything I’ve got. I’m reaching out to God with every ounce of my being. It’s a complete 180 from where I was when I got to Maggie’s twenty one days ago, and I wouldn’t trade where I am now for anything in the world.