33 Years

On August 1st I celebrated 33 years in recovery. It’s always a challenge to talk about alcoholism, particularly my own 24 years of alcoholic drinking, and its consequences. AA is clear that anonymity is a personal choice. I debated as to whether I should tell this bit of “my story”. Hey, it’s my blog and the gratitude I feel is something I want to share.

I was not looking for recovery, it found me. Alcohol is a strange substance. Nine out of ten adult drinkers do not have a problem with the addictive qualities of C2H5OH. However for the 10% that do, all bets are off. I will skip my “war stories” but suffice to say I should be dead. Alcoholism is the #1 health problem in America. I won’t get on my soapbox because I have learned that, as AA has taught, “it’s a program of attraction, not recruitment”. It is a progressive, chronic, fatal disease. However it is also treatable. This I do know— there is no such thing as making a normal drinker out of an alcoholic.

In 1995 I was at an AA meeting at my old, old church in Alamosa. It was a Monday noon in June. About 10 of us were just getting started when a dapper older man asked “Is this the meeting listed in the newspaper”? We welcomed him and he sat quietly in our circle. Near the end of the meeting he said these words I have never forgotten: “What I am going to share is not to draw attention to myself. I am headed to San Diego to the 60th anniversary AA World Convention. I am the last surviving member of the original 100 AA members. I was 22 when I had my last drink. Alcoholism is a progressive disease. Over time it never gets better, it always gets worse. It is said that one practicing alcoholic negatively affects 17 people directly. Just the same, I have found that recovery is also progressive. One recovering alcoholic positively affects 17 people”. My experience is, that is 100% true.

I was given the gift of recovery. The more you give it away the more you have, but you don’t give to get. You give simply because of gratitude. When I am 76 I will have been sober half my life. There is a pretty good chance I might make it to 76. All because 85 years ago two alcoholics, Dr. Bob and Bill W. found that together, with grace and truth they could stay sober, one day at a time.

In Japan the special birthdays are 11, 22, 33… etc. I am shooting for 55.

Onward and a Upward,

Mark

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