When I was new in sobriety, I desperately wanted a pet (god knows why…I couldn’t even take care of myself.) A lady I lovingly refer to as SATAN (aka: my first temporary sponsor), told me I should get a plant instead and try to keep it alive for awhile. Actually, her exact words were, “Why don’t you try to nurture something that won’t experience pain when you kill it with your lack of commitment.” YIKES! She was harsh. Mind you, this same woman interrupted me in the middle of reading a fear list with 256 fears on it by saying, “honey, I’m at work right now. Open the Big Book to page 256, read it, and then call me back after work and tell me what it said.”
But the lessons of a dead plant (and there were many, many dead plants) are a good reminder for me that things have to be attended to in order to stay healthy, and in my life, that means I need to put my sobriety first.
If your life looked anything like mine when you were new, putting sobriety first was an easy task. I mean let’s face it, there wasn’t a whole lot going on in my world, and there weren’t too many people beating down my door to request my presence. I used to get up, truck across the valley (San Fernando) to my telemarketing job, put in a few hours there moaning and groaning and complaining about how hard it was to work when you were trying to get sober, and then push off from the office around 2:30, just in time to sit outside Radford hall and smoke cigarettes until Mike M. came along around 3:15 and opened the doors.
I had no idea how important that guy was, or how important it was to keep those doors open for people like me who literally had reached the last house on the block. But what I learned in those rooms was that no matter how busy or big my life got, I had to keep AA and my sobriety in the middle of it. In other words, it wasn’t about making AA fit into my life. It was about making my life fit around AA.
During the years of my sobriety, I have accomplished this with greater and lesser amounts of success. In sobriety I eventually went back to school. I got married. I had kids. I got a couple of goals, met them, and then got more goals. I traded cigarettes and Dr. Pepper for workouts at the gym and yoga classes. I traded sitting on my porch drinking boxed wine and leaning over my nightstand snorting lines for getting up early and getting to class. One day I turned around and found myself so busy that I barely had time for the meetings, friends, phone calls and service work that literally saved my life.
It’s a tough middle to find. I believe we get sober to live life outside the rooms of AA. If all it consisted of was sitting in meetings and patting ouselves on the back for how sober we were staying, I would have died of the apathy. I like to live large, have the big experience. When I used, I did it in a big way. My sober life is no different. I’m always pushing the limits of what is physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally possible for me to achieve. I keep an insane pace, and the truth is, I like it that way. But if I get too self sufficient, too important, too busy, too accomplished, it’s easy for me to forget my alcoholism..and believe me, it doesn’t forget me.
Like this dead plant, my sobriety can wither up and leave me feeling dry and brittle, with nothing to give. There may be a flood of abundance and goodness all around me, but when my spiritual condition is one of drought, it’s impossible for the soil of my recovery to accept it, feel it and put it to any good use. I have to stay connected, and each one of us has special ways that we do that. One of the ways I stay connected to my recovery is by writing this blog. It forces me sit down each day and remember that this thing–living a sober life– is the single most important thing I will ever do. Period. End of story. I have many dreams in life, but one purpose: to stay sober and to help another alcoholic achieve sobriety.