Getting the Answer

Today I was told I would be offered an exciting new job I had been hoping I would get. It is a few years of work, with some of the top people in my field. One of them is a world class scientist, with lots of awards and even a Pulitizer for a book he wrote. Not only should this work be good but it will also set me up quite well to get a permanent position once this experience is completed.

Sobriety is a strange and wonderous journey, especially when you give in to giving up and letting God. My experience with this job has been like a number of others. It was serious and yes, it was a big deal. So much so that I got my panties in a wad for quite awhile. Only in the last few months have I worked really hard at letting God into what I was busy doing on my own.

I had been waiting on this deal to come down for over a year and was able to spin my wheels doing other things to bide my time. It got to the point where I was getting fearful, anxious and could not see as easily that life is and will be good. Regardless of work or no work. Some of my old thinking was starting to come back, in no small part because now I am married and things seem so much more serious these days. My wife is even pregnant for gosh sakes.

Finally I got earnest and honest in my prayers. I began to ask God to help me be on and be happy with a path that would support me and my family in a prosperous way. To realize, accept and honor whatever that was to be. Over time I came to realize I was no longer waiting for something to happen. It was happening and I was on the right path. I just did not know what was up around the next bend. This change in my perception and sense of things began to get me right again. A greater shift occured when I felt like I did not care what the outcome of getting the job I wanted, I was just curious to know what was going to be next. Like the curiousity of a child, not one of the fearful adult I was a few months ago. I just began to know now that all was well, and right. It also seemed that an answer, the next thing that would be, was coming to the fore soon.

Today the email came. I have a lunch date on Wednesday to meet with the people I will be working with. With this new job I will be: working at one of the top universities in the world, working with one of the top scientists in my field and I will be able to commute to work by taking a bus that is a three minute walk from my front door.

One of my best friends in the world was with me when I was just beginning my journey in science. I was a few years sober, he was just getting started. His first few years of sobriety were mental health hell but he stuck with it and I with him. I was best man at his wedding a few years ago. Last year he was part of my wedding. Even way back when, in the mid 90’s, I was talking to him about this guy that I am going to soon be working with. I called that friend today and we both marveled that I am where I am today.

It occurs to me to end this post by mentioning that none of what I have done in this area of my life would have happened if I made all my own decisions. I just wanted to be left alone. Instead I followed what I thought I was being directed to do, each step of the way. Even though at times it was a seemingly scary, unknown course that God put me on. Those scary God directions always opened up into wondrous vistas that held beauty and joy. Today is another one of those and I am so grateful to be alive and sober.

Wishing you all the best in your sobriety…

What are AA meetings for?

This question was asked by a newcomer in a recent meeting. Others said things such as “meeting makers make it” and “I have to go to meetings to stay sober.” Nice ideas but these are ways meetings can help us and not necessarily what meetings are for.

The primary purpose of an AA meeting is to carry the message to the still suffering alcoholic that there is a solution to their drinking problem. We should convey that our best self-directed efforts to control our drinking are insufficient and we must tap into a power greater than ourselves for help. The twelve steps provide a path to achieving this solution.

I have attended thousands of meetings and more than a few have not touched upon this primary purpose at all. Of course there are a lot of different things said at any meeting and not everything is all about recovery. Regardless, by the time a meeting is over one should at least be left with some sense that they were at an AA meeting. I do not go back to meetings that totally ignore carrying the message of recovery and sobriety.

Going to meetings will not cure our alcoholism but can, for an alcoholic:

• be one of the ways we learn that working the steps will solve our drinking problem
• bring us together so that we can help and support each other
• provide a means for us to learn about our alcoholism
• show us that other people have the same problems we do
• provide a relaxing respite from our day and any attendant pressures or problems we may be facing
• teach us things about how to live sober by seeing both positive and negative examples of how others are trying to get sober and deal with their problems
• be a place to find a sponsor

This list can be made much longer but……one can work the steps without ever setting foot in an AA meeting (the original reason why the Big Book was written!) and get sober. The opposite, going to meetings but not working the steps, does not bring about the same result. Working the steps changes in our thinking, our actions, and our intentions in ways that will not happen if we just sit around talking about sobriety.

When I first started attending AA meetings I was frightened. Of everything and everybody, not just of AA. But I listened to what people said in meetings, and in some ways, how their words, actions, and deeds fit together. Drunks tend to not have their shit together, and it shows. Sober people stand out in a roomful of others that may want to be sober but have yet to work the steps.

I was convinced when I arrived that I was a drunk and that I was powerless to stop drinking on my own. Sober drunks told me they were once in the same situation. They said they worked the steps, developed a spiritual life, have been able to stay sober, and have left behind many of the problems they had when they were drinking. These were the people I wanted to be like. They seemed relatively happy, which was way different than how I felt. I did not have any more good ideas about how to take care of myself so I began to do what these people suggested. Get a sponsor to help me work the steps, keep going to meetings, change my playmates and playgrounds, and many other things.

Back then I knew nothing about trying to carry the AA message, I just needed to hear it. Today I feel it is important to talk at meetings about what alcoholism is, what it does to us, and how it is possible to escape the downward spiral of alcoholic drinking. This is, in part, what the AA responsibility statement conveys;
“I am responsible . . . When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.”

People who had worked the steps and embodied this notion of being responsible were there at meetings when I arrived. Their willingness to carry the message to me saved my life.

A rare comment from the old version of this blog that was transferred to this current site……

Danny Schwarzhoff Says:
June 1st, 2006 at 5:04 pm

Someone told me not long ago that they were uncomfortable with the slogan “meeting makers make it.”

I am too, but only in-as-far-as it implies that meeting attendence is all I need to concern myself in order to stay sober. I love going to meetings today, whereas prior to recovering , I secretly watched the clock and eagerly anticipated the end of the meetings. I am at a point where I am no longer meeting dependent to stay sober, but God dependent instead.

I know that the groups are more than people gatherings. They are living, breathing spiritual entities where our message of hope can be announced to a sufferer of this disease My article in the September issue of Grapevine expounds more on this. If interested, feel free to read it in this groups FILES section found to the left on your screen.

I found it interesting that as life throws its curves and bumps in front of me, there is no longer the urge to “get to a meeting” to settle myself. I no longer get “squirrelly” if I miss a few days, or even a week of meetings. As far as I know, no one regularly characterizes me as a “serene” man. But certainly I do KNOW serenity, which is one of the hundreds of promises made to me by the authors or the Big Book provided I take other simple steps. (And in the case of “knowing serenity”, made my amends)

If to lack of a meeting began to once again affect my serenity, I’d have to take a real serious look at my spiritual condition. Being dependent upon meetings to keep my head on straight doesn’t sound like very much freedom to me.

Danny S