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Monday, April 14, 2014

Another World


I don't remember thinking my life was going to improve once I stopped getting high.  I suppose I didn't have that kind of vision.  I had very few clear thoughts, but most of them focused on picking up again.  I did not want to go back that way.  I'm always grateful that a big enough part of me needed to be done with it.

I do recall, however, one simple question.  It looped almost continuously in my head, always the same.
How am I gonna do this?
How am I gonna do this?
How the fuck am I gonna do this?

For me personally, the very notion of living free of drugs and alcohol seemed like walking without legs.  It wasn't even plausible.  I had no idea how to do anything sober.  My mind told me I didn't want to, and my body agreed.  Fortunately, I was already on my knees.  At least, the ground was closer.  I was in a much better position to relearn how to crawl.

So, picture this.  Here on the left, there's me.  Envision something pathetic, maybe sitting on a lonely pile of garbage.  Over on the right, there's the rest of the world. Think ponies, baby lambs and other happy creatures.  Maybe dolphins wearing wreaths of flowers and streamers.  All the animals are dancing around, eating cake. These are two distinctly different focus groups.  Fortunately, I am a goal-driven individual.  Somehow, I needed to figure out a way to climb down from my mound of despair, so I could join the party.  And not get drunk while I was there.

In order to describe what very early sobriety was like for me, I probably need to mention that I'm not particularly keen on math.  Perhaps you've seen me in action, adding things together.  You'd remember if you saw it.  To say the least, I struggle. Anyway, check this out.  There are sixty minutes in each hour and twenty four hours in a given day.  In clusters of minutes, maybe three and four at a clip, I would stop what I was doing and return to my one burning question.  How am I gonna do this?  I asked myself hundreds and then, thousands of times.

I took showers, and I went to meetings.  In my head, I asked my question thirty times.  I ate food and walked the dogs.  I asked my question twenty more times.  I checked the clock.  I asked my question.  I went to meetings.  I read a little.  I checked the clock again.  I asked my question over and over.  I saw my doctors.  I cried when I heard myself ask my question out loud.  I went home and fell asleep.  I woke up and asked my question fifteen more times before my eyes opened.  Every time I asked, I had no answer.

How am I gonna do this?
How am I gonna do this?
How the fuck am I gonna do this?

Oh, God.  How am I gonna do this?
That question became my first prayer.
I walked up to a group of older gentlemen that I recognized.  They were eating Fig Newtons before the meeting started.  I waited for a break in their conversation.
"I've been praying." I blurted out in their general direction.
"Oh, yeah?" Walter asked.  "How's it going?"
"Uhm.  Okay, I guess," I replied.  "I have this one question that I just keep repeating, all day long."  I told them what the question was.  "This morning, I had to remind myself that I hadn't asked in a while.  Then, it almost felt good when I thought about it."

I realized that what I'd said might have sounded confusing, but these guys never skipped a beat.
"Well, that makes perfect sense," Tom said.
"I guess it's working!" added Bruce.
I smiled and agreed.  "Yeah.  I hope you're right."
"How many days, kid?"  Walter wanted to know.
"I've got twelve."
"That's terrific!" he said.
Indeed, it was an awesome moment.

In order to appreciate that subtle change, I didn't have to understand everything that was going on.  It made me feel hopeful inside.  I looked out the window of the little room in the building behind the Pompon Lakes police station.  It was a beautiful Spring day.

Midway through the meeting, I really wanted to get high.
Instead, I volunteered to make the coffee on Saturday mornings.

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