Looking Back

I often hear members share: “if you had asked me to write down the very best life I could’ve hoped for when I was new, I would’ve sold myself short.” This is true for me. It’s almost inconceivable that I could’ve traveled from where I was 21+ years ago to where I am today. It’s only in looking back down the hill that I can see the tremendous changes I’ve experienced through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I wasn’t looking to be changed when I staggered into my first meeting. I just wanted a job. Any job. It didn’t have to be a fulfilling job. Just enough to pay the rent and make the fear go away. I had no interest or enthusiasm for life in general. I was hopeless and didn’t know it. As I sat in my command chair with my big bottle of wine, bag of pot and the remote control, I considered a therapist’s suggestion to go to treatment. I remember thinking “I’m 47 years old. My life is almost over. Why should I quit drinking now?” But I went into treatment because I didn’t know what else to do. Almost immediately my life began to change.

It was easy for me to begin a relationship with God because God loved me first. God remove the  obsession, guided me to a great home group, and a loving sponsor. God provided me the willingness to do what was suggested and I was gently pulled into the spiritual mystery. I experimented with many different types of spirituality over the years, but I always return to the  simple wisdom of Alcoholics Anonymous -- one alcoholic talking to another.

My insides began to change as I made my way through the steps. As self-centered fear dissolved a new world opened up to me. Before AA my whole world was the size of my messy apartment. At three years sober I was sent to the other side of the planet where I enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. I reestablished my career, repaired financial wreckage, and married a beautiful young Chinese woman. I was honored to be one of the first members to carry the AA message to mainland China. Growth is often painful. The Chinese people don’t do life the way I want them to. I fought against their backward ways until a few years ago when peace of mind became my most important possession. Slowly I'm learning to stop giving away my serenity over things I can not change.

Before I began my trek up the hill, I ran from uncomfortable feelings through the bottle. Today I face those feelings head on and always grow from doing so. I continue to experience great sadness over the death of my wife, but I’m also aware that happiness is right there behind the sadness. Today my life feels useful and content and I’m confident it will remain so as long as there are other alcoholics to help

Like Chuck C., I’ve been given what amounts to a new pair of glasses. Nothing, virtually nothing looks the same as it did at the bottom of the hill.