When I was new you taught me to identify, not compare with others in the room. You said when I identify, I connect. When I compare I separate myself from life. You taught me that forgiveness heals the sense of separation between us  and reconnects me with my Higher Power. I’m learning that I cannot forgive until I am able to see myself in the other person.

My father was at the top of my first fourth step resentment list. He was cold and controlling, and doled out harsh punishment when I stepped out a line. I didn’t hate my father, but I resented the way he treated me. This resentment kept me from the desire to have any kind of meaningful relationship with him. My ego erected a wall between us.

I joined AA and began to make my way through the steps. When I came face to face with my character defects I saw I was guilty of the very things I judged him for. I was cold, controlling and angry when I didn’t get my way.  Today I know that my father suffered from untreated alcoholism. I realized he was driven by a 100 forms of fear just like me. I feel compassion for him and the suffering he must have endured. I regret that my father died before I could see this truth.

God puts other people in my life to help me grow. They hold up mirrors so I can see the truth about myself. Most of the people in my life today reflect good qualities. But every now and then a button pusher appears to help me see I’ve got work to do. Seeing my character defects in others doesn’t feel good, so I often turn away, but then another person shows up with the same reflection. Funny how that works.

The key of course is willingness. I continue to grow along spiritual lines, if I have the willingness to look in the mirror when it’s standing right in front of me. Some days I have this willingness. Some days I don’t.

Life on Life's Terms Sober

In 1993, one year before I got sober, my mother was dying. I flew across the country every other weekend to my parents home in Florida. By then mom was on hospice care and hooked up to a morphine drip. I found it excruciatingly painful to talk with her during these trips. I was so uncomfortable all I could do was sit by her bedside and drink. When she died I drank against all the feelings that tried to arise, pushing them down below the level of consciousness. Last year, my wife of 18 years became very ill and eventually died at the end of November. Now, without alcohol and drugs, I had no choice but to walk through the painful feelings sober.

I ran the whole gamut of emotions after Lola died. I was glad she no longer suffered. I was angry because she was 23 years younger and I was supposed to go first. I was afraid about what life would be like without her happy spirit. But mostly I felt sad. I wasn’t sad all the time, but out of the blue sadness crashed over me like a wave. Today the sadness is still there, but it feels more like ripples than waves.

The most troubling feelings for me have been feelings of loneliness, thank God AA provides me a solution. In the middle of February my HP tapped me on the shoulder and suggested I get connected with Alcoholics Anonymous here in North County, San Diego. I committed to 90 meetings in 90 days. As of yesterday I have attended 91 meetings in 84 days. I have made new sober friends and have even hooked a willing newcomer. As it says in our book, my whole outlook and attitude has changed. I still feel pangs of loneliness, but they are nowhere near as painful as they were three months ago.

I miss my wife terribly. Yet, I am not suffering. Instead I feel grateful for the time we had together. I consider it a huge honor to have been chosen to walk with her until the end. I am so grateful to Alcoholics Anonymous and what I learned from people like you about living life on life’s terms.

It's All Grace

If nothing happens in God’s world by accident, then every single experience is meant for my highest and best good. The so-call good experiences and the so-called bad experiences are all grace - undeserved gifts designed to help me grow into full expression of my true nature which I believe is divine love.

I look at my alcoholism as a blessing. I could not have traveled from where I was twenty-one years ago to where I am today without having a disease that was going to kill me unless I treated it spiritually. My alcoholism turned out to be my ticket out of bondage of self into a life of beauty and meaning.

Last week I ran into a newcomer at a meeting I hadn’t seen for a few months. The last time I saw him he had just had his second drunk driving arrest and his attorney suggested he attend AA meetings to look good when he went in front of the judge. I caught up with him after the meeting and asked him how it was going. He said he had his day in court and was sentenced to a year and a half of AA meetings. He was happy he was having a Breathalyzer installed on his car so he didn’t have to ride his bicycle everywhere.  I asked if he had a sponsor yet. He said no. In fact, he was taking “a few drinks now and then and was doing OK.” I said that maybe he wasn’t alcoholic and suggested he try the controlled drinking experiment described in our book. He seemed interested so I outlined the procedure. He said, “Yeah, I probably should try that.” I said, “I hope you convince yourself that you are an alcoholic.” He looked at me kind of funny. Like me, there is no way Matt could possibly imagine that alcoholism could be a good thing. 

My wife fully understood when I told her I felt my alcoholism was a blessing. She said she felt the same way about her cancer. She shared that every time the cancer recurred she drew closer to her beloved Jesus. She shared she felt guilty because after she fully recovered from her surgery she slipped slowly backward into a life of materialism. I am so grateful there is no cure for the disease of alcoholism. I can’t imagine life as a normie.

I am grateful to be an alcoholic. I pray that all the Matts in the world receive the gift of desperation, the gift of clarity and the gift of willingness so they can experience the wonder and excitement of recovery like I have.