I'm not much into organized religion, but the Easter story of the death and the resurrection is a powerful metaphor for me.

Toward the end of my drinking I was not as physically sick as some get before they are led to the Alcoholics Anonymous. I didn't get to the point of having to puke up that first drink in the morning to get the next one to stay down to quiet my nerves. I had tried many of the things in Chapter three to control my drinking (I actually did switch from Scotch to Brandy one time) but I was never committed to a health farm or sanitarium. God's grace came to me before the elevator got all the way to the bottom. But I can always get back on and ride down those last few floors.

Physically I probably wasn't dying, but I wasn't fully alive either -- not mentally or spiritually. I was just existing in the world of the half dead. There was no spark or enthusiasm in my life. Every day was the same -- drinking alone in front of the television and existing on fast food. I was a emotional flat liner. Nothing moved me, touched me. By then the colors in my life were only shades of gray. I had no job nor any interest in one. There were no other people in my life except the lower companions I met at my neighborhood bar for happy hour. In this state was physical death really that far away?

It was in this condition that God graced me with a moment of clarity that allowed me to see through the walls fo denial to some Truth about myself. After thirty years of drinking I was able to see that I was in serious trouble. I needed help. Powerful help. And I would find that help in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I am a different person than when I walked into my first meeting 20 years ago. Much of the fear is gone. The cynicism and sarcasm is gone. The lying is gone. And many other character defects are on their way out. I still have a long way to go, but it's not too much of a stretch or me to feel that I have been reborn. That I have risen from the dead.


I was amazed at the honesty I heard at my first meeting, but it was the laughter at my second meeting that sucked me into the center of Alcoholics Anonymous and kept me kept me coming back for almost twenty years. I was sitting in the back in “half-measures row” worrying about what you thought about me. I had just spent eight months in drunken isolation and the seventy men at the meeting that morning seemed a little to “up” for me.

After the readings, the birthday celebrations began. One of the celebrants -- a sad-faced young man -- stood at the front of the room. He blew up the candles on the cake, his sponsor said a few nice words about him and gave him his three year token.  He looked down at his feet as he recounted, in graphic detail and four letter words,  how he caught his girlfriend sleeping with another man the night before. He went on for a good five minutes, bad mouthing the woman, some of the other stunts she pulled, how he never should have trusted her in the first place and what he would do to get even with both.

The group was completely silent until he finished, then burst into riotous laughter. I caught myself alternating between feeling sorry for the guy and laughing my butt off. It was the first time I had really laughed in years. I connected with this guy because I identified with his wacky solutions, his rationalizations and justifications. I love AA because we develop the courage to tell it like it is. Where else does this happen?

I'm coming to believe life is a third rate comedy and we are all slipping on banana peels. Growing along spiritual lines allow me not to take my little plans and schemes too seriously. I simply can't enjoy life fully if I do. When I finally learn to laugh at myself, I'll have a lifetime supply of material.

Joined in Spirit

The deep desire to fully connect with Life was born into me. I showed up hot wired to love, but I squandered this gift in a relentless attempt to find absolute security in an absolutely insecure world. I developed a whole slew of beliefs and concepts about what I must do to win your love and respect and live happily ever after. Unknowingly, these old ideas separated myself from you, my Higher Power and from life itself. I sensed I was all alone in a cold, cruel world.

I chased money, power and prestige like my parents, teachers, and the celebrities I saw in People Magazine. For a few years, like Bill, I felt I was winning the game of life, but even during the best times, I had the nagging sense something was missing. I drank against this dis-ease for thirty years.

Fortunately I was blessed with the disease of alcoholism. God had me right where he wanted - recover or die. Something in me chose life and I was led to our spiritual fellowship. You taught me by loving example how to live life on life’s terms. Today, thanks to spiritual power in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, I am a stand-up guy. I show up for others. I try to do the right thing.

When I first got sober one of the old timers used to talk about the spiritual love we alcoholics have for one another. Today I know what he means. As I continue to let go of my old ideas, my connection with life grows. It’s simply a wonderful way to live.

Grateful for the Pain

I'm coming to believe that genuine gratitude goes beyond a sense of thankfulness for my life and all the good stuff that has happened and continues to happen to me. I'm learning I can extend gratitude to every area of my life -- all the way to the emotional turmoil and upset I experience from time to time. When I was new an old timer told me that I will become grateful for the pain. It didn't make sense to me then, but I'm beginning to see the truth in what he said.

Life doesn't follow my script. In sobriety I've experienced painful job loss, painful relationship problems, painful financial setbacks and the painful frustration of my wife's serious health issues. I've lived much of the time in uncertainty and insecurity. I wish these painful things didn't happen but they do -- they seem to be part of life's terms.

I begin to be grateful for the pain when I remember that the pain is not punishment from an angry God or some penalty I have to pay for screwing up. The emotional pain I experience is a message. It says to me that one more time I've lost my way. I'm holding on too tightly. I'm resisting. It tells me there is a lesson I have not yet learned. Once I realize the pain is a message and not a punishment. I can begin the process of letting go and letting God through an honest inventory and heartfelt amends.

Bill Wilson's essay on Emotional Sobriety resonates with me. He says my basic flaw is my demand that others give me what I want. He goes on to say I cannot hope to fully heal my alcoholism until my "paralyzing dependencies" on others are broken at depth. My job here is to be of service. What others think about me and how others treat me is none of my business. Boy these are hard lessons to learn!