A miracle is “an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.” Something like a recovery from an illness that has been diagnosed as fatal. Like alcoholism.
“Don’t quit before the miracle” is something a person who is struggling in AA may hear. Behind it is the hope and belief that continuing on in AA will bring about the miracle of recovery. My recovery is a miracle. I was on the brink of death from drinking too much, and I’ve now abstained for 32 years. A miracle.
I have experienced another kind of miracle in the program. For years I was driven to AA with the desperate hope that I could find sobriety there. I needed to stop drinking and I needed the program to get me there, because I couldn’t stop without it, on my own. But at some point, and I don’t know when, I came to want the program and the people and the meetings and the books. Now, if another kind of miracle offered me sobriety without the program of AA, I wouldn’t take it. I want the program now. And that’s my second miracle, the one that keeps my coming back. I also wouldn’t “cure” my alcoholism. I’d keep it. All of my happiness has come from there.
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” ~2 Corinthians 12:7-10
In honor of Mother’s Day, the tombstone of Bill Wilson’s grandmother, the woman who mostly raised him. I meant to put his mother’s stone up but chose this one by mistake and I thought, why not? If it’s always the mother’s fault (which I think it always is), maybe I owe my life to these two women.
I marked 32 years sober last week. As one impertinent young person in the program put it, “All of my life, and then some.” Yes I’ve been sober longer than some people in the rooms have been alive.
I’ve been sober longer than my kids have been alive, and that is one of the supreme miracles of my life. For Mother’s Day I have what I want, and that is children. They’ve never been endangered by my drinking and for that I am grateful.
And as I like to tell some of my relapsing friends, it’s never too late to give your children a sober mother.
Carole marked 20 years sober yesterday, and I gave her my 20 year coin, which she had given me on my 20th anniversary. I will have my 32nd anniversary May 1, God willing. And the creek don’t rise.
It’s been an extreme blessing to be married to someone in the program. I’ve written about it way back when, but we met at an online AA meeting in 1996 when she was just getting sober and I had a measly 12 years. I wouldn’t meet her in person until she had a year, but by then we had fallen in love. Online. I still felt badly about it, even when Carole had a year, and a friend asked me, “How long does someone have to have in order to date you?” I didn’t know how long, but more than a year I thought.
Anyway I trust that the ensuing 19-year-and-counting relationship has shown I wasn’t out to take advantage of her newcomer status.
Recently at a meeting I heard someone say something like, “….my truest sponsor, my wife …” which would not be a sponsor in the legal, literal or suggested sense. But I understand. Carole and I have talked a lot of AA through the years. We’ve been to a lot of AA through the years. I remember being afraid to meet her and get involved, afraid that she would drink or fade away from AA the way, sadly, most people do. I told her that being an active and sober AA member was a prerequisite for being with me. It was still a terrible chance I took. Looking back, I’m amazed I did that. But my then measly 12 years must have been driven sense into me because it’s worked out so very well for today. I wouldn’t want to do sobriety (or any part of life) without her.
Basic advice sometimes given to flustered newcomers who don’t know what to do. To not drink is the first, necessary part of recovery. My mind, under the influence, could not absorb anything or advance in any way. “The disease that tells you you don’t have a disease” comes to mind. It’s like a part of me wanted desperately to keep drinking, and it would not stop for any kind of reason. With alcohol in me, it didn’t matter what I believed or didn’t believe. I was bound to go for more.
Going to meetings begins to put in place all the other changes and learning that are needed for recovery. At meetings we hear instructions. We hear what people have tried and experienced. We hear from other alcoholics. That has always been an essential part of the program. Sometimes people who cannot recover given treatments and medicines and therapy can recover when given the experience of someone just like them. Meetings are where the people are. The people who can help me and the people who need my help.
My daughter of the trip-to-Greece-all-alone saga is engaged. She’s 30 years old, and has never been endangered by my alcoholism. This month Carole will have 20 years sober. Next month I will have 32. All these happy situations are brought to me by AA. It works!