The Habit of Sobriety

It was as close as I have ever come to picking up a drink. I was three years sober and had just lost a job I thought was much too good for me. The itty, bitty shitty committee in my head were all yelling at me at the same time. Then the chairman called for a vote. They went around the table: guilty, guilty, guilty…! It was unanimous. I was a worthless piece of crap and would never work again. I had no right to a good life. The fear was excruciating, but instead of picking up a drink, I picked up the phone and called my sponsor. I am absolutely convinced that the habit of sobriety kept me from drinking that day and saved my butt countless times since then.

Besides job losses, the habit of sobriety has seen me through financial set-backs, health issues and the death of my wife in 2014. I moved to Shanghai, China for work in 1997, long before it became the modern city it is today. My sixteen years in Shanghai was filled with frustrations. I didn’t speak the language, the weather was lousy, and the traffic was horrendous. There was great pressure to drink from the Chinese I did business with. Gratefully there were five other alcoholics and three meetings a week when I arrived. It was definitely an AA “light” program, but I didn’t drink. Because I had the habit of sobriety, I made it to every meeting, got a local sponsor (actually we sponsored each other) and kept in close touch with some AA friends in the US by email. I joined ESH and attended our online “meetings” every week.

I began to develop the habit of sobriety right out of the gate. I wasn't a joiner. I was aloof. My heart was completely closed. Left to my own devices I would have stood on the outside of Alcoholics Anonymous, but you wouldn’t let me. You welcomed me with open arms. You pulled me into the center of the herd where I was safe. I resisted your hugs, but you didn’t care. The only thing you seemed to care about was that I kept coming back.

I really wanted what you had, and God supplied the willingness to do what you did.  I took suggestions. I showed up at meetings daily despite the voice in my head telling me I had more important things to do. I got a sponsor and made my way through the steps. I have never said "no" to an AA request. I made coffee, bought the doughnuts and picked up cigarette butts in the parking lot. I became a part of the fellowship and began to warm myself by the fire of Alcoholics Anonymous. My program really took off when a man asked me to sponsor him. I was one of the first Americans to carry the AA message to China where I had many opportunities to sponsor that I would never have had in the US. Today sponsorship is the bedrock of my recovery program. It is a tremendous source of joy for me.

I acquired the habit of sobriety by doing the same things over and over again -- meetings, steps, service. These actions keep my spiritual channel open and God’s power flows through me out into the world. It’s simply a great way to live.