When I first got sober there was an old timer who was a regular at one of the meetings I attended. He used to call his problems "AFGO's." "I'm having an AFGO," he would say. Another F**king Growth Opportunity. I'm coming to see this truth -- that problems are really opportunities to grow in disguise. The problems I have in my life today are present to wake me up, not to punish me.

Health, finances, job, relationships, deaths of loved ones, you name it, I've had my share of problems in every aspect of life. Like the game "Smash the Gopher," just when I think I have one problem solved, another pops up. I'm learning that thinking I can create a problem-free life is childish fantasy. No matter how good my life gets, someone will always come along and spill gravy on my new carpeting.

Before Alcoholics Anonymous, I tried to my solve problems by drinking at them, sweeping them under my mental carpet, thinking that in time they would go away. I no longer believe this today. Just like my character defects, my problems don't go away by themselves. They go underground for a while and show up later in different costumes. I cannot out run my problems anymore than I can out run my shadow. The problem grows and grows and gets more painful and more painful until I finally have no choice but to turn around and face it.

I am coming to believe problems are in my life for my highest and best good, but I only grow if I'm willing to walk through a problem, not avoid it, ignore it, or dance around it. Every time I get to the other side of a problem, my faith is just a little bit stronger. Every time I stand up to my ego, my ego becomes just a little bit weaker. It takes courage to walk through the dark tunnel of fear and face problems head-on. I find the courage in Alcoholics Anonymous. By watching you guys walk through your problems, I learned I could too.

Is being an alcoholic a problem? I suppose if you asked, most "normies" would say that being an alcoholic is a problem. I see my alcoholism differently. Without having this disease that was going to kill me, there is no way I would've been willing to take the actions suggested by the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Then the beautiful promises of our program would be nothing more than a pipe dreams. I'm grateful to be an alcoholic. It is a major blessing for me.