An old time member in one of my groups often says the most important word in the Big Book is “Remember.” My brain will never forget the relief I felt from alcohol. Step One helps me remember that without the spiritual help that comes from working the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, I am screwed.
I was a few days sober and floating on a pink cloud. I sat in counseling circle in the treatment center along with five or six other outpatients. When it was my turn to speak, I said, “I feel so good, I know I’ll never drink again.” The woman that ran the center, an ex-heroin junkie from New York with a pronounced lack of tolerance for newcomer bullshit, sneered at me and said, “That’s just ego Jeff, we don’t say crap like that in here. You have no idea what you will or won’t do in the future. Better you stay out of the future and concentrate on what you need to do to stay sober today.” Step One reminds me that the very first thing I need to do to stay sober today is to remember I have a disease that will kill me if I give it half a chance.
I’ve seen what happens to alcoholics who forget. At almost every meeting, I hear of people going out, some with significant time on the program. Most report they stopped going to meetings first, but not all of them. One guy shared that he just woke up with a drink in his hand. Step One helps me remember I am not bullet proof. I am not immune from picking up a drink even though I haven’t had one in a while.
A few months ago, I began a brand-new phase in my life. I moved into a new home and met a woman I am mad about. My meeting attendance dropped off a bit. I didn’t realize these major changes brought any consequences until yesterday. As I sat in my third meeting in three days, I felt the peace return. One more time I realized I need to attend meetings to be around other drunks who help me remember the truth: My name is Jeff and I have a disease called alcoholism.