Growing or Going

I quit drinking as an experiment after my first marriage broke up in 1989 after three years. I blamed alcohol for our breakup. After all, we drank throughout the evening, argued incessantly, and often went to bed angry at each other. I was sober for a week or so when a friend recommended AA.  AA sounded too drastic. I asked him if there was anything else. He said some people go to ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics). “What’s that?” He told me in AA I had to admit I was alcoholic, and I couldn’t drink, but in ACA all I had to do was admit my father was an alcoholic. Perfect!

I went to ACA meetings once a week and stayed sober for thirteen months. My life began to improve. Not drinking felt good. I enjoyed getting together with a dozen or so other ACA’s and sharing about our parents and our lives. I half-assed worked a few of the steps. Then a new job took me from LA to San Diego and staying sober lost its priority. It wasn’t long afterwards I was sitting for lunch with friends in a beautiful garden restaurant in the bright sunshine. The waitress poured an expensive Chardonnay in our glasses. I didn’t hesitate, even for a moment. I had no mental defense.

What followed was a six-year, progressively more painful, descent into what I hope was my final bottom. Finally, I was graced with a moment of clarity that led me to AA. As I sat in my first meeting, I had the sense I had finally found my way home after a long, painful journey. I loved everything about AA and still do.

I recently made a list of my goals and plans for the coming year and some actions steps. One of my AA goals reads, “continue to grow and change.” I intend to discover some new meetings, work with some new men and explore other spiritual pursuits. My life is better than it has ever been, but I can’t afford to stay the same, to rest on my laurels. I must continue to expand and grow my program. I know what happens to those of us who take their foot off the gas and let up on their program of action.