Here I was, ready to get the calculator out (actually, I did and then was embarrassed when it spit out the result — hey, give me a break, it was 3 in the morning or something) only to find that ten is a lovely number to multiply things by. And 365 times 10 is 3,650. 3,650 days and counting. Well, sort of. I don’t count days anymore. I haven’t for a long time. I think I stopped somewhere after 90, realizing that my next “chip” wasn’t going to be until 6 months anyway, and it was going to be easier to start using my dry date as a way to pass the time rather than counting days. Because if you really do it, months don’t really add up right. 30 days = month doesn’t add up to one month on the calendar every time and it starts to get confusing. Much easier to just use the calendar and call it a day.
And that’s what I did. Blessedly, it was easy to let the day counting go quite easily, for the desire to use alcohol and smoke marijuana wasn’t there like it had been. Every day after work. Every weekend. Every time I was bored. Every time I went out. Every time there was a party. Every time there was nothing to do. Every time there was a time that that wasn’t filled with work, if I had a job. I loved to drink and I loved to get high. These were comforts to me, they were companions. They were the ways by which I measured your personality and the way you would fit in with my “lifestyle.”
It was a life, but I don’t know that it had much style. Some people I know finished college during the worst of their addictions. Some people bought houses and got married. Some people traveled, had careers, accomplished things. It’s not to say that they weren’t still miserable, but it always strikes me as odd that I didn’t think I was miserable, but I couldn’t get any of the aforementioned done. I was being slowly poisoned. I was imperceptibly drowning.
The final straw on my way into the coffee club was that my brain finally shorted out and I was diagnosed with manic-depression. That led to an intensive outpatient program and an eventual week’s stay in the psych ward which led to a summer of the worst isolation and depression I have ever known. It is always darkest before the dawn. I tried to rekindle my romance with alcohol for a bit, but it was never the same again.
I had several powerful spiritual experiences in a short amount of time which led to my eventual sobriety. One was that I realized I was completely powerless over alcohol — that I could no longer stop drinking when I wanted to — after I was with someone who couldn’t have alcohol around them and whom I had never drank with before. Despite potentially catastrophic consequences for this person, I absolutely needed (and procured) alcohol for myself anyway. The second came a week later, after having gone to a meeting where people shared their personal experiences with powerlessness and having read a little bit about the physical aspect of alcoholism, when I sat down for a night of drinking. The first sip of alcohol hit my lips and I knew without a shadow of a doubt what people were referring to when they talked of a “phenomenon of craving.” The idea that one drink begets a string of many that the drinker has no control over. I also knew I would have no future success drinking with that sort of shit running around in my head. The third came the next day, when someone I had been in the outpatient program with called to ask me if I wanted to go to a meeting. For some reason, I said yes. I don’t know why she called, and I don’t know why I said yes. We stopped by another friend’s house to see if she wanted to go with — she was already in a few wine glasses deep and declined to join us. The first friend didn’t manage to stay sober with any regularity as far as I know (I lost track of her pretty quickly) and the second friend is dead; murdered by her lover.
I don’t know why I’m here. I really don’t. I know that over the years, I have taken actions that were contrary to my desires. The coffee club is the *only* thing that I seem to be willing and able to get up on a weekend at 7 or 8 am to go to some conference to speak or hear someone else speak. It’s the only thing that’s held me accountable to things that to other people would seem wildly tedious and boring. I have definitely learned how to grow up here. I realize that I have learned many things — many skills, emotional and practical — that I previously didn’t know and didn’t know I didn’t know.
But I also have done so many things “wrong” here. Failed to take suggestions. Plain refused to do things. Stalled out. Balked. Neglected my spiritual life. Struggled to find my way. Been headstrong and filled with self-will. Things which I have seen put other people out on their ass and sometimes in their graves.
So, I don’t know. I don’t know why me and not someone else. Frankly, I don’t know where the time has gone. I don’t know where my original crew has gone — how they all ended up getting married, moving away and having kids. How life keeps on happening and things keep on changing and at the end of the day, it all sort of kind of stays the same.
God, I guess. Creative Intelligence. Spirit of the Universe. Higher Power. That’s what I got or regained here. A sense of connection with it and the spark of the divine that is it in me. That knowledge that I have it in my soul — that I am it, that it is me. That I have a small, still voice right inside of me to guide me, lead me, give me the next instruction — if I clear away all the other crap that’s screaming over the top of it and generally saying some really crazy ass shit. That’s the thing I know. That’s the thing that keeps me sober every day. That I ask for help. That brought me in, that got me here, that takes me home. I don’t care if it’s JC or Buddha or Allah or Taoist or New Age or Kundalini Yoga or whatever. It’s all of that. I take them all. I use them all. It’s all the Source. It’s all the deal. It’s all conspiring for my (and your) good.
Now, I just have to walk out there and act like I believe it’s true.