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Sponsorship

AA is my church. The sharing of one alcoholic with another is sacred because God has brought us together. Holiness is of little value in the AA church. We connect through our mutual brokenness. My drunk-a-log my be different than yours, but the feelings I drank over are exactly the same. We share together not to save each other’s souls, but to save each other’s asses.

I learned everything I know about AA and sponsorship in my first home group, Mt. Soledad Men’s in La Jolla, CA. The meeting was run by the book. The group emphasized sponsorship and an abundance of qualified men put their hand out to me. I chose Larry, the one with the new Mercedes. :) I learned we all need three things from our sponsors: love, discipline and direction. Larry supplied all three. He taught me to tell the truth by sharing his truth. I learned about his fear, his abandonment issues, and the problems of his life. I learned to sponsor in much the same way Larry sponsored me.

I've had the great good fortune to work with a number of men during my time in AA, especially in Shanghai, China where I lived for sixteen years. Shanghai was a perfect place for an alcoholic to hit bottom. The bars stayed open late and were filled with attractive "talking girls" Foreigners could act out without consequence. A few found their way to our fledgling AA group. Even at only four years I was graced with an abundance of opportunities to sponsor that would not have come my way in San Diego where there were many wiser, more qualified alcoholics. Many of  the men I worked with weren't ready to receive the gift, but I grew every time.

When I'm sharing with another man, sometimes it feels like God is speaking through me. Sometimes when I hear the words come out of my mouth I say to myself. “Wow! I didn’t even know I knew that.” Passing it on to others is truly a major source of joy in my life.


Isolation

Hi Everyone, Jeff, alcoholic,
When life get’s me down, it’s a sure sign I’ve lost my connection to my HP. I know when this happens because it feels like I am slogging through a swamp up to my knees in quicksand. I can’t muster up enthusiasm for much of anything except sitting, staring at my computer and eating. When this happens my knee-jerk reaction is to do the exact opposite of what my program teaches me. Instead of putting my hand out and re-connecting, I isolate. Fortunately, this doesn't happen very often these days.

I heard in a meeting once that isolation is a dark room where we go to develop our negatives. It’s a catch 22. Self-will takes over as I sink deeper into isolation. When I’m running on self-will I don’t have the power to free myself from isolation. Depression could be right around the corner. Thanks to my recovery program, I am sensitive to my tendency to isolate. I become “sick and tired” of suffering before I get sucked all the way to the bottom.

Reconnecting with life starts with me calling other alcoholics and talking about them, not me. I force myself to get to a meeting and share in a general way what’s going on. I put my hand out to newcomers. I do some writing. In a day or two I’m back t seeing the glass half-full. My attitude and outlook has changed.

I try to remember, it’s not life on my terms, but life on life’s terms. Life is calling the shots. Is life always fair? No. Is life always comfortable? No. But life is always real. As I continue to let go of all the old ideas that stand between me and life, truth begins to shine through. Unity is restored.
Happy Thanksgiving!

A New Life

I am not the same person I was when I walked into my first AA meeting. I feel I have been reborn into a new life. This miracle is nothing I did and everything God did. Even though my ego wants to take credit, my life is Grace pure and simple — a gift I did nothing to earn.

Nothing is wasted in God’s world. I needed to drink every drink and to tell every lie. I needed the drunk driving arrests, the painful relationships, the job loses and the bankruptcy. I needed every meeting I attended, every step I worked and every alcoholic who showed me the way. I could not have arrived where I am today with one less of anything.

I’ve received countless gifts in sobriety beginning with the moment of clarity that led me to AA, but I believe the most important gift I’ve received is the gift of willingness. Without willingness, I would not have continued to take the actions necessary to awaken to a brand new life.

Somewhere along the way I entered the flow. Instead of swimming against the current of life, I floated with it. Oh, I still have problems but today I know they are in my life to help me grow. Today I feel a part of life, not apart from it. Today I enjoy peace of mind most of the time. My life feels useful and contented. It’s true I’ve taken the suggested recovery actions, but God supplies the fuel—willingness.

I drank for thirty years to quiet the termites of anxiety that lived beneath the surface of my life. The termites are gone. There’s no reason to drink today, even if I could drink like a gentleman.