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Sobriety in the South Atlantic Ocean

Sobriety in the South Atlantic Ocean

 Audio Version

Hello my name is David and I'm an alcoholic. Today I am 690 days sober and, my Higher Power willing, I will, in July be able to pick up a two year sobriety chip. I never thought I would get to 10 days.  It feels like a miracle to be an alcoholic and to be sober. I didn't understand before how this thing works. And I didn't have a desire to stop drinking and - no surprise - it got worse even though it was already pretty bad.  I think I had to be physically, mentally and spiritually broken all at the same time before I gave up fighting.  I know now that the only way I can win against alcohol is by not picking up the first drink one day at a time.  

When I went to my first AA meeting about 10 years ago, I remember saying that I didn't know why I was in a room full of alcoholics.  It turns out that that was exactly where I needed to be but I didn't know it.  My Higher Power had other ideas for me. I was stubborn, naive and arrogant.  Even though the solution to my problem was right in front of me for many years I wanted to carry on living in the problem.  Even a decade ago I was begging to be locked up and thought that the only way out was to try and kill myself.  I couldn't live with alcohol and I couldn't live without it.

Ten or so years later I found myself sleeping in doorways and fields for a few days around a hospital in Bristol, England.  I had been taken there by ambulance after the police had been called to find me drinking and sleeping in my car in a supermarket car park after the hotel I had taken hostage threw me out.  My last drink lasted about nine days and at the end of it all I had to show for myself was a stolen hospital blanket and an empty bottle.  I discharged myself at least two or three times before I finally gave up and went back to ask for help.  Mainly I suspect because I had run out of money and alcohol but also I did not have any strength to fight anymore.  I was broken and alone and desperately sad.

My brother picked me up and took me back to my mother's house in Gloucester.  The first thing I did when I got home was to search out the whisky.  I found two full bottles but I didn't drink anything even though my body was crying out for something to take away the physical effects of a nine day drink.  I called the AA helpline and that was where my latest and hopefully my last journey in AA began.  I see that moment as being Steps One, Two and Three all together for me.  Alcohol had beaten me and my life was a mess. I knew that AA might be able to help me.  I asked for help.

Since that day I have attended hundreds of meetings, sometimes three a day when I have needed to, always had the same sponsor. I have been through all the Steps with my sponsor, have a home group, have done a little service, pray regularly when I wake up and lots of other suggested things.  Mostly when things have got hard enough for me to take some action.  Stubborn, naive and arrogant.  But mostly the pain of sobriety has led to growth.  I didn't understand that when my sponsor said it to me often, but now I do.  It is one of the many paradoxes of AA.  Pain is growth.

I understand now a little of what the Big Book means when it mentions the, "fourth dimension of existence" (B.B p.25) and more importantly I can understand that provided I don't pick up the first drink I can be as happy as I choose to be.  In many ways my life is materially worse than when I was drinking but spiritually, within myself, I cannot remember having ever being this happy.  I am currently working on a little ship in the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean.  I was afraid that coming here would not be possible so relatively early in my sobriety but my sponsor and his sponsor both said that I should try and so I was reassured.  There are no AA meetings here yet, but I visited the hospital when I arrived and ran into one of the nurses here who works with alcoholics sometimes and she has put me in touch with another 'alcoholic' by email who would like to talk to me while I am here.  Also I can stay in touch quite well with my sponsor and other alcoholics by email and messaging.  And every day so far I have read one story from the back of the Big Book.  And most days I have done my prayers too.  I have started saying "Morning God" when I wake up.  Just to remind me that I'm not in charge.  All of these little suggestions and actions have been given to me freely by other alcoholics and AA and for that I am grateful.

Stubborn, naive, arrogant.  I don't get to choose when my Higher Power removes my character defects or which ones.  But I do get to be willing and have hope.  Willingness and hope is enough. And always disregarding my keen intellectual alcoholic mind.  Disregard all instructions from the brain and do what your heart and Higher Power tells you!  Maybe one day we will bump into each other as we trudge [to do something with purpose] the road of happy destiny together.  Stay safe.