Freedom from Bondage = Hearts of Hope

I stumbled across a writing entry from my first days sober and realized that one can substitute any other unmanageable situation for the words “sober” and “sobriety.”

For this Thursday Thread, I share these words in the spirit of hope and as a boost for those who may struggle with “keeping on keeping on.”

A sudden removal of alcohol (insert any other destructive behavior) from an alcoholic’s life is traumatic. It alters one’s mind chemically and has the added pain of mental and physical obsession, not to mention how it causes one to behave like either a raging bear or a sniveling four-year-old.

My mistake in early sobriety was in thinking I could simply stop drinking. Remove alcohol and all my troubles would vanish as well. My life would emerge from behind a magician’s cape in a whoosh of presto, chango, all is perfect.

The hard facts would slowly emerge in my foggy mind that alcohol was not my problem. I was my problem.

Fifteen years of continual drinking, of drowning my emotions, of hiding from uncomfortable or confrontational situations, did not prepare me for life without alcohol. I had no clue how to deal with anything. Oh, I was functional. I was practically always functional; in fact, that was a huge stumbling block for me in admitting I had the disease of alcoholism. I nearly always went to work after a big night of drinking; albeit a little tardy and extremely hungover.

My work environment enabled my drinking. It was not uncommon to venture out to lunch and return after three or four cocktails with my bosses. I was in my early twenties with a lunchtime bartender who brought me “the usual” when I walked in the door!

By the time I quit drinking, some eight years after those thrilling three-hour lunches, I was losing track of a lot of time. Time began to rearrange itself without my permission. My car began to move itself with increasing frequency. There was often no explanation for how I reached my destination.

In May of 1991, during one of my final drunks, I drove home from Topeka, Kan., a distance of about 75 miles, in a blackout. I have no memory of the trip.

It was Mother’s Day and I was at a work function. By God’s grace, I lived to see my mother.

One of the many ironies I encountered in those early days and months sober was the life I thought I was handling so well covered nothing but an insecure and emotional mess of a person. Take the alcohol away and I was a sober, insecure and emotional mess of a person. Worse, I was shaky, defenseless and angry that others could do what I apparently could not.

I instinctively knew I was drowning, although I wasn’t aware that the sea of my despair was filled with self-loathing, self-pity and self-disregard.

Just as instinctively, I knew that I needed help. With a few phone calls, I found a voice who became a friend and sponsor and said, “I’ve been there and you’re going to be alright.”

We began a relationship of her offering suggestions and me taking them. Over the years, I’ve asked myself a million times how it was I came to follow the advice of a total stranger, then joined a group of people who were just like her.

They were deadly serious about this condition I learned was a disease, yet they were also jovial and funloving. Much, much later, I learned the answer to my question of why I fit in.

My answer had nothing to do with the similiaries of our financial conditions, our stature in life or any of our preferences.

The answer was the one thing that gave me hope that I could stay sober and it is the answer that has worked for 7,581 sober days.

It was Shirley’s heart speaking to mine. Then it was Jerry and Karen and Gabbie and Pat and Suzanne. They were the first people in my home group who on the outside were  nothing like me. But on the inside–where we draw our balance and where we B–the language of our hearts enunciated perfectly that we were all going to be okay.

Hearts of hope. I pray you are connected with similar hearts that bring you hope that if your days are dark, they can be brighter again. Hold on and you’ll find freedom from your particular bondage.

Namaste, my friends.

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1 Comment

  1. […] If you haven’t got any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble. ~ Bob Hope […]

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