We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness
April may be the cruelest month, but August is a close second — at least in my book. Here in Maryland, August is hot, humid, and oppressive. This year, it was even more so with record temperatures and long periods of no rain. But that’s not why August was so hard for me this year.
It was the constant flood of memories of how things were last year. See in August of 2015, I started to seriously consider that maybe, just maybe, things were never going to get better unless I made a change. Last August, I attempted to stop drinking and lasted 14 days. Then there was a series of fits and starts, marked with lots of bourbon and pain, that lasted for several weeks — in fact for about another month — before I finally surrendered to the fact that me and alcohol were no longer going to be friends.
Facebook likes to remind me of what the past was like, and while I don’t regret the past, I don’t like to dwell on it. During those weeks, I posted the sentence, “Fall down seven times, stand up eight” many times. I posted variations of it. I posted pictures of it in Japanese characters (they probably said something like “Butt Grease and Applesauce” for all I know). These postings were emotional encryption at its finest. No one knew what I was talking about, except for me.
This year, while this flood of memories seemed to assault me every day, I was also struggling with the familiar feeling that maybe, just maybe, there was something wrong in my program. Maybe I didn’t need the 12 steps. Maybe this was all bunk. Maybe after a year I might be able to drink a beer. Maybe there is another way.
These are not good things to be going through the mind of a person in recovery.
I knew that something was wrong, but I couldn’t figure it out. Then one day a friend in the program texted me after I sent out yet another emotionally encrypted message on social media, “I need to get out of the house” and I opened up to him. We talked about how I was feeling hemmed in by one particular meeting that I’ve attended.
I told him how it wasn’t working for me any more. How I was falling asleep in the middle of the day because I was getting up too early. I told him that I was tired of hearing the same voices, the same stories, over and over. How I felt like things had stalled. And that led to a conversation about where I was in the steps. I admitted that I was stuck, that I hadn’t progressed with the 4th step. That I’d written a ton down, but that I wasn’t making a point of getting together with my sponsor.
He told me that he encourages the people he sponsors to move quickly from the fourth step to the fifth step because carrying it around tends to weigh people down. I realized that the sense I’d had that maybe I needed a different sponsor might be real, and so I talked about it with my friend. After much conversation, he said something to the effect of, “I think you know what you need to do, and I think you can do it, but only you can make the call.”
Now, I have a HUGE fear of rejection. So huge that I never asked for a woman’s phone number in a bar. The only one I ever got was my wife’s, and that was because she gave me her card when she sensed that I was never going to ask. With that in mind, making the next call was incredibly challenging for me. And I could have put it off.
Perhaps it was just a touch of sober courage (to borrow a phrase from my friend), but I made a call to someone who has what I want and asked him to be my sponsor. I was relieved when he said that he’d be honored to do this. I was emotionally spent and didn’t have it in me to call my then current sponsor at the time, but I made a point of doing so the next morning. And, of course, he was fully supportive and he reminded me that he’d told me that he’d be my temporary sponsor in the first place.
Over the past week, I’ve caught myself in a strange and unfamiliar place, but a place that I’ve wanted to get to for a long time. It’s a place where I am wearing life like a loose garment. A place where I have a sense of ease and purpose. A place where I just feel right more than I feel wrong, broken, or unworthy.
There is undoubtedly much more work to be done, but I know that I’m once again on the right path. And that feels good.
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me…
And I’m feelin’ good