The Elimination of our Drinking is but a Beginning

I have been thinking about the line form the Big Book, “We feel the elimination of our drinking is but a beginning,” (19). I often hear in meetings that if you do not remember your last drunk, then you haven’t had it. I don’t really understand that. I presume it means that usually something so terrible happened the last time you drank, that it would be hard to forget. But that’s not my case. I don’t remember my last drunk. My guess is that it was like the hundreds that came before it.

Sometime towards the end of February 2007, I awoke one morning with the flu. At least, I think it was the flu. To this day, I still struggle to put all the pieces together. Over the next few days, the flu continued get worse. I was nauseous and had a shivering fever, but it went much deeper than that. I hurt down to my bones. I went in and out of sleep and had terrible nightmares mixed with paranoia. At some point, I knew this was no longer (if it ever was) the flu, but rather the DT’s. It is not my last drunk I remember so well, but my sobering up. The fear of experiencing that level of pain again has kept me sober through some of my most desperate white-knuckle times.

By the time I made it to AA, all I wanted was to not drink. I was not worried about anything else. I was so tired and so beat up. I don’t even know if I really thought I could be sober. I just knew I couldn’t drink that day.

I remember a particular meeting from early on. It was one I attended fairly often. A girl about my age started to share about how difficult it was growing up in public. I sat there for the rest of the hour trying to figure out who she was. She didn’t look rich or famous. Nor did I recognize her as any of the kid stars from my childhood TV watching. When the meeting let out, I rejected the idea of asking her how she was famous and just walked out. I figured maybe it was one of those TV shows that I never watched, “Eight is Enough” or “The Waltons.”

Thank goodness I kept coming back. Yes, elimination of our drinking is but a beginning. The funny thing though is I am still at the beginning. If you would have asked me at thirty days if I were acting rightly, I would have looked you straight in the eye and told you emphatically, “Yes.” That would have been the truth too, as much truth as I had at thirty days. At seven years, I’m doing the best I can with seven years. I continually stumble my way through the process of “growing up in public.” I make what feels like a ton of mistakes. I am, at any given time, impetuous and demanding, self-pitying and foot-stompingly immature. I don’t always think my actions through to the consequences. I am often too quick to answer and too slow to think. I want everybody to read my writing every day and then tell three friends about it! Hands on hips and a sharp nod for emphasis.

But as I wrote last week, “AA does not make too hard terms with us.” Whenever I fail at maturity, AA is there. Sure, they may not pass me the Kleenex box, but they do not deride me either. Last night’s meeting topic was the spiritual axiom. I realize part of the way through that I had been nursing a resentment about one thing while totally misdirecting my anger towards another thing entirely. So when my turn came, I shared about it. Speaking my truth allowed me to realized the solution to my, let’s face it, high-end problem. It helped me put things in perspective. AA allows me the forum to learn. I think that’s why meeting makers sometimes do make it. I need to hear other people sort through the problem of living life sober. Even with a few years, I still cannot heal my mind with my mind. I need other people to infiltrate my crazy and show me a better way. Everyday I stay sober, I think, man, I’m still at the beginning, for the I closer I come to perfection, the further away it feels. But really, isn’t that a good thing?

 

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