i had to stop drinking in 1995, & when i first started going to meetings, all i heard about was "the international" in san diego. every 5 yrs, the worldwide association of 12 stepping drunks has an international convention someplace in north america. i had missed "the international" by just two weeks!! i'd been on some of my last drunks while 100s of thousands of happy sober people were at "the international"!! it drove me nuts & thought i, i'm going to the next one or die trying!! of course, that meant i had to keep the plug in the jug...
back then, several hard-a**es & program doomsayers took one look at my young, selfish, immature newcomer butt & got my number, telling me i'd "never make it."
"oh YEAH???" i sputtered. "i'll show THEM!!" know-it-all jerks!! i would make it!!
then i got cast as glinda the good witch in a 12 step adaptation of the wizard of oz
; my main lines were "the promises," which, if you don't know, are that part of "the big book" that tells you all the positive, mature, rewarding things you'll be able to do once you sober up & start to grow up. i'd drive around downtown bakersfield at night practicing my lines, steering & muttering those promises to myself, & realized i WANTED those things in my life!!
all the nice people i met, along w/the promises, the doomsayers, my immediate identification w/the big book, & the lure of upcoming international conventions helped ensure that i stayed off the sauce day by day.
i was in like flynn in bakersfield sober circles for many yrs. i loved helping others, feeling useful & purposeful, like a good person, "part of," yet outside the gossip. i had a strong role model in my 1st husband, a close-mouthed man who, like my dad, just didn't believe in telling tales. i felt good, even great, more uncrazy than ever at many times during those years... we went w/friends to the 2000 international in minneapolis as well as the 2005 in toronto. my dear friend jani & i walked around a colorful international market; we all went to the ginormous mall of the americas; i fell off the rails emotionally & missed seeing ronnie dawson at a local club; we ate thai food & delicious fish; we visited meetings in many languages & walked amongst thousands, thousands of happy sober people. in 2010 i'd just gone through a very sad divorce & went to the convention in san antonio. i saw my ex-husband there as well as throngs of bakersfield friends who'd traveled to the tx gathering in a big cheerful herd. i was in a really bad spot in life emotionally & spiritually then, but the convention was all-wonderful.
the next one's in atlanta. i'll have 20 years. did i mention the conventions always fall on my sober birthday weekend? my selfish part is pleased by this: every 5 yrs, i celebrate my bd not just with the u.s.a., but w/the sober world. i've started really getting excited about this convention, going to atlanta w james, continuing on to kentucky to again visit his loving, wonderful family there, traveling, being sober, having a chance to keep growing, getting healthier, connecting to others, helping & being helped, not just existing but feeling fully awake & alive.
to conclude, here's a section from the most important book i've ever read, pp 152-153. when 1st i heard it, at the little church meeting that was my thursday night home for 14 years, my chest swelled & i nearly cried. i grew up loving superheroes. i never wanted to become what i did, a confused, desperate, unhappy, sick in all ways girl-woman who broke her mother's heart, hurt all who loved her, in the vice of a fatal disease. these promises, not the ones i had to learn for the play, are ones that kept me coming back, & still do. there's hope for a new life to anyone who wants it. this isn't the only way, but it's the way that has worked for me. if you, too, are inspired by what you read below, here's the link
[Here you will] find release from care, boredom and
worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at
last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we
find the fellowship, and so will you.
"How is that to come about?" you ask. "Where am I to find these people?"
You are going to meet these new friends in your own
community. Near you, alcoholics are dying helplessly like people in a
sinking ship. If you live in a large place, there are hundreds. High
and low, rich and poor, these are future fellows of [the program]. Among them you will make lifelong friends. You will be
bound to them with new and wonderful ties, for you will escape disaster
together and you will commence shoulder to shoulder your
common journey. Then you will know what it means to give of yourself
that others may survive and rediscover life. You will learn the full
meaning of "Love thy neighbor as thyself."
It may seem incredible that these men are to become
happy, respected, and useful once more. How can they rise out of such
misery, bad repute and hopelessness? The practical answer is that since
these things have happened among us, they can happen with you. Should
you wish them above all else, and be willing to make use of our
experience, we are sure they will come. The age of miracles is still
with us. Our own recovery proves that!
Our hope is that when this chip of a book is launched
on the world tide of alcoholism, defeated drinkers will seize upon it,
to follow its suggestions. Many, we are sure, will rise to their feet
and march on. They will approach still other sick ones and fellowships... may spring up in each city and hamlet, havens
for those who must find a way out.
Labels: 12 steps, acceptance, addiction, alcoholism, another chance, friendship, honorable life, hope, international convention, life, love, recovery, sobriety, surrender