Suddenly Realizing

I have experienced a few large and a number of tiny “aha” moments in my sobriety, but the first one—the moment I realized that my thirty-year obsession with alcohol had been removed--became the foundation of my entire recovery program.

Three days before I walked into my first AA meeting I was getting ready for bed when I realized I hadn’t thought about a drink all day. I found this quite curious as I had been getting drunk twice a day for the past eight months while unemployed. I had no idea what had happened, but I sensed it was something magical. When I read the Doctor's Opinion a few weeks later I realized my obsession to drink had been removed -- that God was doing for me what I could not do for myself.

With the obsession removed I had tangible experience that proved God was real and personal to me. I was pulled into the mystery of life. I saw that all I needed was to demonstrate a little willingness and great things would come to pass. Armed with this faith I was able to dance through the 12 steps enthusiastically expecting miracles in my life. What started out as a trickle became a non-stop stream of miracles that continue until this day.

Since the moment the obsession was lifted out of me, I have never seriously considered taking a drink or using any kind of mind altering substances. It’s been more than twenty-one years now. Like it says in our book, God has placed me in a position of neutrality as far as alcohol is concerned. I don’t want to drink and I don’t want not to drink. It’s a non-issue. During my wife’s illness our home was loaded with all the best kind of pain drugs including liquid morphine, OxyContin,and others. I was never once tempted despite the excruciating emotional pain.

I have great compassion for those members who share they are still struggling with the obsession even well into their sobriety. I am extremely grateful that God removed the obsession for me at the beginning of my journey. I’m not sure I would have made it otherwise.

Spiritual Love

When I was new I often heard my grand sponsor share in meetings about the spiritual love we alcoholics have for one another. I knew you guys were loving me back to life, but it took quite a few years before I began to experience spiritual love.

The only love I knew back then was the sticky, romantic love that I saw in the movies — emotional, hormone driven, exciting. This love is held together by the unwritten promises we make to each other. If you put me first in your life and make me feel special, I’ll do the same for you. All my relationships, even well into recovery, were based on this exchange of benefits model. Most started sputtering after the romantic period and I remember feeling betrayed each time, like the woman didn’t keep her promise.

The love I feel for other alcoholics is born of compassion, not desire. You walked through hell and so have I. I’ve learned that spiritual love is impersonal, makes no demands and expects nothing in return. It does not play favorites. We are all equals in the rooms. Spiritual love does not begin or end with me. It flows through me out unto the world. The twelve steps opens the channel for spiritual love to flow out of me. It’s nothing I do and everything God does.

I experience spiritual love at almost every meeting I attend. I see the light come on in a newcomer’s eyes, I hear of broken families mended, I witness one of the people I’ve worked with begin to give it away to others. I'm surrounded by spiritual love in meetings. Now I'd like to do a better job of taking it to the street.

Freedom from Bondage of Stuff

I was walking through the mall the other day and the thought came over me that I didn’t want one thing in this whole mall. No new clothes, no new electronic devices, no new kitchen gadget. No nothing. In fact, the thought of having more stuff actually felt a little repulsive.

This is stark contrast to my life before AA. Like most Americans I bought stuff I didn’t need with money I didn’t have. I made minimum payments on my credit cards until I declared bankruptcy after a couple of years sober. I realize today that I bought most of the stuff, not because I needed it, but to try and fill up the emptiness — to feel better about myself. Today, thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous, my life feels useful and contented. I no longer need to be filled up because I already am.

I no longer worry about there not being enough to go around. I no longer have to fight for more than my share. I have the faith I’ll be given what ever I need to thrive today. My daily bread might come in the form of strength, money, or an intuitive thought — what ever I need. God doesn’t give me enough bread to last me the rest of my life, only enough for today’s journey. God has never failed to provide what I need, even in the depths of my alcoholism.

As I continue to grow in AA I am learning to live with less. I no longer suffer the constipation of too much stuff. I sense I have just enough of everything, not to little, not too much. Just enough. I heard that a spiritual person is someone who owns two shirts, sells one for a dollar and uses the dollar to buy a flower. I’m not there yet, but I’m heading in that direction and it feels great.


I plodded through life feeling like a wind-up alarm clock that had been wound too tight. Innocently, without knowing it I had accumulated a whole collection of false beliefs that separated me from you, from God, and from everything good and real in life. I drank against the pain of feeling separate and alone for thirty years.

I saw therapists, took antidepressants, and read countless self-help books but nothing worked. Only alcohol provided any relief, but toward the end even my best friend abandoned me. Instead of a sense of ease and comfort, the booze made the fears worse. Finally grace allowed me to see there was plenty wrong with me that a new job wouldn’t fix. Something inside of me cried out for help and I was led to Alcoholics Anonymous. I've been seeking help in AA ever since.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I began my journey to wholeness at my first meeting, when I put up my hand and said, “I’m Jeff and I’m an alcoholic.”  I jumped into recovery with both feet. I began to practice the principles contained in the twelve steps, I experienced the psychic change described in our book, and a whole new world was born.  I am growing away from the false sense that I am separate and alone in a cold cruel world toward the certainty that I am inextricably connected to all of life — to you, God and good.

It’s early yet, but I believe today will be a pretty good day. I don’t have anything special planned. Yet I sense there will be special moments. I’ve enjoyed a succession of pretty good days in the past few years. Sure there have been challenges and heart aches. They seem to go with the territory. But these low spots are greatly outnumbered by days filled with peace, happiness and freedom. It’s a good bet today will be a good day because I plan to get to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and connect with friends on our program. This, I’ve learned is the formula for a useful and contented life.