Happy to Be Sober

If my life is not substantially better sober than it was when I was drinking, it’s a good bet I will drink again. I may not pick up right away, but sooner or later the psychic pain I drank against, the pain that brought me to AA in the first place will begin to fade into the background. I'll forget what it was like and memories of the “good times” alcohol provided will begin to crowd into consciousness. Half measures — occasional meetings, hanging out with other dry drunks, health kicks -- may delay the first drink for many years as life dissolves slowly into a living hell.

Yesterday out of the blue I received a rambling email from a man I hadn’t heard from in four years. He was drinking vodka trying to take the edge off a coke high as he wrote. He said he had four and a half years of sobriety when he finally picked up “to drink with my business associates and to date women.” He said he hated AA in the US and in capital letters he wrote: “I REALLY DON’T WANNA GO TO AA. Reading his email made me think of this passage in the Big Book:

“He will presently try the old game again, for he isn’t happy about his sobriety. He cannot picture life without alcohol. Some day he will be unable to imagine life either with alcohol or without it. Then he will know loneliness such as few do. He will be at the jumping-off place. He will wish for the end.”

I’ve been happy about my sobriety since I stumbled through the door to my first meeting. Reading Peter’s email reminded me of this gift. My experience is that very few newcomers are truly happy about their sobriety. I am one of the lucky ones who realized right away that life was much better sober than it was drinking. This realization is nothing I did and everything God did. All I did was drink myself into a state of desperation.

Even when I was winning the so-called game of life, I always sensed an emptiness inside, a yearning. Today I feel filled up. I came to AA from a life of lonely isolation. Today I have millions of friends around the world, including a few close ones who know everything about me and love me anyways.  I’ve had the chance to carry the message to mainland China and see the fellowship grow up there. I am discovering the truth about myself and in the process I’m learning I’m OK just the way I am, warts and all. Thanks to the opportunities to be of service and work with others, my life feels useful and content. I have just enough of everything. Happy to be sober? You bet.