The Title is meant to grab your attention – not click bait, but it’s controversial with a purpose. Yesterday, I wrote about a meeting I attended Sunday during which I was called on and shared this:
“At six months (sober), I was pretty sure I didn’t have a clue. At two years, I was certain I didn’t. At five years, I could finally see some light through the clouds. At ten, I found happiness. At twenty, I just kept coming back to help others, and maintain that happy life…”
I’ve always believed in brevity (unless I’m writing a post about cycling or recovery… ahem).
A woman, whom I’ve never seen eye-to-eye with, and who’s had more than a dozen years, twice, chimed in later on to explain to everyone that “it doesn’t matter how much time one has, because [insert a bunch of platitudes and gobbledygook here].
I just smirked.
While there is a smidgen of truth to what she said, that smidgen has to come from someone who lacks experience. See, it sounds great, your twenty-four hours sober is just as good as my twenty-four hours, whether you’ve got two weeks or twenty-five years. That’s not true though, even if it sounds good, and I can explain exactly why that is.
I remember what it’s like to have two weeks. I had just made my decision to quit and asked God’s forgiveness and help, and there were times I had to pray for the strength to stay sober hour-to-hour. Sometimes minute-by-minute. After six months, I’d call my sponsor, but only after I’d worked myself into such a lather, the best remedy was to pick me up and physically take me to a meeting to calm me down. A year in, I was still going to five meetings a week, but I was struggling with doing the big fourth step – the one that counts. I was also in the middle of learning there’s a reason they say the first year is a gift… it’s because the second is friggin’ hard. The second is the year you learn to live sober – to work the program throughout your whole life, not just throwing a few key prayers at staying sober and hitting 90 meetings in 90 days. By the time the fifth year rolled around, I was married, worth being married to, working a decent program and I was a lot more stable in my recovery. In fact, I had been restored, almost fully, to sanity.
My wife might argue that last point.
By ten years, I’d learned what it was like to bask in the sunlight of recovery. I knew a new peace and happiness. I also learned working the program in my life was a lot harder than working it in my life in a marriage. I learned I had some work to do. I spent the next ten years getting that right and skirting by with just enough recovery to be relatively happy. Eighteen to twenty years in, I really got it. I became a much better member of the recovery community. I really put some effort into it. All of those previous years, the happiness I did know, paled in comparison.
Working the program at problems became reflexive. Recovery became, finally, natural. If I had that rare, fleeting thought of drinking, I could laugh at it and discard it just as simply as one throws away a snotty tissue. If I had an issue with some person, place, or thing, I looked at my part in that problem first. Recovery became my way of life in a meaningfully full way. It’s actually really hard to put this into words, but I’ll give it a try over the next couple of weeks, but I get it. And I get just enough to know A) it’ll get even better, B) that I know just enough to be dangerous – and that isn’t much and C) that more work is required and I have the willingness to do it, because I know the results before I complete the work; a new freedom, a new peace, and a new happiness. More, as they say, will be revealed.
Now, in the tiny minutiae of working the steps and a program of recovery, time doesn’t matter because I’m just as “close” to a drink as anyone else. All it takes is a momentary lapse of stupidity, for anyone. In the bigger picture, only a fool would say time, as constructive, lengthy recovery, doesn’t matter.
Of course it does… and that’s also why I didn’t have to chime in and show her up. Anyone who works the steps long enough to bask in the sunlight will see through the simplistic “time doesn’t matter” argument. And until they get there, ignorance is bliss.
Recover hard, my friends. It’s as good as it gets.