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My 1st Year of Sobriety

My first year of Sobriety was the hardest yet best year of my life. I started the year in a mentally defeated position. I hated you, I hated everything around me and most of all I hated myself. I couldn’t look in the mirror and not think about what a piece of trash I was. I thought I wasn’t worthy of anything I had accomplished. I got advanced in the military; there must have been a clerical mistake. I got a degree; but it took me 14 years and at the end of the day, felt no smarter. The only time I could bear to look at myself and not think terrible thoughts was when I was drunk.

Towards the end I was getting out of hand. I was blacking out every night with vodka or whiskey. My wife would make promise I would “only have 2-3 glasses” tonight. So I would find the biggest mug and fill it to the brim with vodka and add a few splashes of Mountain Dew for flavor. I mean, I did what she said, I only had 2-3 drinks (until she would go to bed before because I wasn’t done and would make one or two more), but I still continued to black out nightly. I thought to myself “ You should just switch to beer so you don’t keep blacking out and have terrible hangovers”.

So beer had now became my drink of choice and for a few weeks that was fine. I started with some domestic brews but I had to drink so damn much to get that buzz and that feeling where I could tolerate who I was. I thought of a new solution, “I will start drinking IPAs” because you can only drink a six pack and still get that amazing buzz I had been missing. Before long, I was headed to the liquor store and shopping up and down each aisle, only looking for the strongest of beers. I found an IPA that was 13%. “That will do the trick”, so I thought. Before long I would drink that in 2-3 hours and ask the wife to take me to a gas station so could have a few tallboys to finish off the night. I was waking up with splitting headaches and would be sick and grumpy all day. Each time I would swear, “Im never dinking again”, only to do the exact same thing a few hours later that same day.

Eventually the booze were not enough to keep me from looking in the mirror and hating what I saw. I had gotten to the point where I didn’t expect or even care if I lived but maybe a few more years. I thought it would better for my family. Life would be better and easier for them.

I woke up on April 28, 2020 and new it had to stop. I had tried quitting so many times and couldn’t make it past 3 days. But, I knew if I didn’t quit, I would die. My kids and wife deserved to have a Dad around. Not only physically, but emotionally.

I reached out to an old shipmate of mine who I knew had gotten sober and he pointed me in the direction of AA. I didn’t care what it was, but I was willing to do whatever it took to get my life together. I went to an AA meeting later that day. Then I went again the next day. This was at the beginning of global pandemic and the brick and mortar rooms were still open. It was great. I went to a meeting, and continued to make it through the next day for my next meeting. The people in the rooms were so full of joy. So kind and caring. I couldn’t understand how they were so happy. I made it to 30 days sober for the first time in 15 years. However, I was miserable. I was looking at myself for the first time without that crutch of alcohol and it was not a pretty sight. The rooms were shut down due to COVID

I knew I had to get into meetings or I wouldn’t make it any further. I was looking online and stumbled across a local room called Early Sobriety Group. I knew this was the perfect meeting for me. It was an amazing meeting and I learned so much. The host of the meeting was a man named Christopher G.. He was someone I could tell right away was by the Big Book. I went to other online meetings all week and was excited to go back to the Early Sobriety Group the following week. Chris G. was speaking again and I stayed after the meeting to talk. I liked the way he hosted and he had a lot of Sobriety so I knew he would probably be a good fit as a sponsor. I asked him to be my sponsor and after a few questions, he said yes.

I spent the next 90 days reading from the Big Book and the Twelve and Twelve for a couple hours a day, with my sponsor. We started to work the steps together. I was finally starting to get that relief that I so desperately wanted. I started my fourth step. It was the first time I had ever taken a true look at my life. It was my first moral inventory. I had 2 weeks to complete the assignment as thoroughly and brutally honest as possible. I did. Then my fifth step came. I had to share my fourth step with another person.

I left my wife and kids at home and drove to his house. I was so nervous and couldn’t believe I was about to tell someone the darkest parts of my life. I had started feeling the relief and joy that the Big Book promises so I knew I had to do it. I told him everything. I cried more than I have ever cried. As I said those things out loud, they lost power over my life. In fact, some of them sounded silly say them out loud. It was hard to imagine I held all that hate and resentment in for so long. I left his house after about 5 hours and headed home. I had a headache and was emotionally exhausted. My wife and kids saw me and said I looked ten pounds lighter. Like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. The lines and stress on my face had lessened. I felt elated.

We continued to work the steps. I thought it couldn’t be any better after I worked my 5th step. I was wrong and the promises continued to come true as I worked the steps and the program. Steps 6 and 7 had me looking at all my character defects. I took a drop the rock workshop and realized that yes, I had many defects; I also had many great qualities. My life had begun to have real value again.

Now it was time for another list. I had to list anyone I had harmed. That list was long but the most awesome thing was that I would get to start making amends for those wrongs. The feeling of freedom after an amend is something I could never have expected. I still have some amends to make but I am well on the way of shortening that list. I am actively practicing steps 10, 11, and 12 everyday. I am able to do so much more with my life now. I know my life has value. I know I can deal with life as life happens. I don’t have to do it on my own anymore, because I literally can’t. I’ve already proven that. However with the rooms, my sponsor and God (My Higher Power), I can do anything.

I sit here, one year later in my hammock rocking back and forth from the motion of the seas. My daughter turned 14 years old today and I couldn’t be there to celebrate. I wish I was there but there is nothing I can do about that. I could be sad and upset, but instead I sit here grateful. I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful my family never gave up on me and I am grateful to my sponsor and God. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for all of them and the rooms. I end my first year of Sobriety happier than I have ever been. The promises of the Big Book absolutely come true if you are willing to put in the work. I will be gone a lot for the year with deployment looming but I can truly say I look forward to this next year of life, in Sobriety.

Dustin S. April 27, 2020.

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12 Steps In Reverse – Road to Relapse

12= Having detached ourselves spiritually as a result of ignoring these Steps, we let our fellow alcoholics fend for themselves and practiced these principles sporadically.
11= Let our conscious contact with G-d as we understood Him lapse by praying only in emergencies for our will to be carried out.
10= Slacked off on personal inventory and when we were wrong, denied or hid it.
9= Reasoned that no one had been hurt by us more than we had been hurt by them and called it even.
8= Made a game of rationalizing the harm we had done others.
7= Sang “I’ve Gotta Be Me”.
6= Decided that our defects of character were too much fun to give up.
5= Denied to ourselves, to G-d and to everybody else that we had ever done anything harmful.
4= Quickly cast a weak flashlight over our moral inventory and decided it was more fun to take yours.
3= Made a decision to keep our will and our lives totally in our own control.
2= Came to believe that since our troubles were of our own making, we would have to solve them without outside help.
1= We decided that we could control alcohol, that our lives were manageable after all.


Anonymous

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12 Steps in Reverse

Everyone is always talking about the 12 Steps in A. A. Another way of thinking about it are the 12 Mis-Steps of A. A. Here they are:

  1. Start missing meetings for any reason, real or imaginary.
  2. Become critical of the methods used by other members who may not agree with you in everything.
  3. Nurse the idea that someday, somehow, you can drink again and become a controlled drinker.
  4. Let the other fellow do the 12th Step work in your group. You are too busy.
  5. Become conscious of your A. A. seniority and view every new member with a skeptical, jaundiced eye.
  6. Become so pleased with your own views of the program that you consider yourself an “elder statesman.”
  7. Start a small clique within your own group, composed only of a few members who see eye-to-eye with you.
  8. Tell the new member in confidence that you yourself do not take certain of the 12 Steps seriously.
  9. Let your mind dwell more and more on how much you are helping others rather than on how much the A. A. program is helping you.
  10. If an unfortunate member has a slip, drop him at once.
  11. Cultivate the habit of borrowing money from other members; then stay away from meetings to avoid embarrassment.
  12. Look upon the 24-hour plan as vital to new members, but not for yourself. YOU have outgrown the need of that long, long ago.

C. L.
Chicago, Illinois
The Grapevine March 1947
Vol. 3 No. 10