Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I had breakfast with a sponsee this morning like I have every week for the past ~ 2 years. He's a fascinating study in that he had ~20 years of sobriety (I'd been his sponsor for about 15) and, after coasting for about 10 years, the wheels came off his life (his wife divorced him and everything he thought that was secure turned to mush) and we started this breakfast thing.

We spend a lot of breakfasts talking about living AA principles as a newly single dad. It was sort of surprising to me when today I gushed out a flood of my memories of the first 2-3 years I was in the program (~'84-'85). I really loved when Mary Christine blogged about her first 25 years in the program. I was envious in that, since I didn't keep journals and my life was such a mess, such a project would not be possible for me.

But, out of the blue, my sponsee got to hear a synopsis of my early years.

Some of the high points:
  • I was 31 years old and newly sober
  • I had at least a weekly appointment at the Jefferson county courthouse
  • The sheriff wanted to know (and approve) any time I even considered leaving the city
  • At ~6 months sober, due to the family no longer being viable and the fact that others were being hurt, I filed for divorce
  • My wife/ex-wife was insane (really) and pissed and acted out by, for example, posting threats to me on the bulletin board at the AA club where I attended most of my meetings
  • I wound up with full custody (my ex-wife was only allowed short, supervised visits) of 2 teenage kids who, since they couldn't "act out" against their crazy mother, attacked me and did much of the stuff teenagers do
  • I was in a job that required 80+ hours a week; lots of concentration and focus
  • The kids were heavily involved in sports, band, extra-school stuff in 2 different schools several miles away from our home(s) or my work
  • I was > $50,000 in consumer debt - bill collectors called daily
  • My daughter decided to go to college in Philadelphia - my portion of that bill was >~$20,000/year
  • I got to at least 3 meetings a week - sometimes 3 meetings a day
  • After 9 months sober, I was 13th stepped by my now wife (we'll celebrate 20 years of marriage on 8/6) and her kids were doing their best to wreck her and their life and our relationship
  • ...
Anyway, the point, I guess, of that reflection was that I had no idea how to get through it back then and, looking back on it now, I have no idea how I got through it now. I don't think I would have won any "style points" and it was 2-3 years after that time that I learned how to actually work our wonderful AA program but, they promised me at meetings that if I took my life a day at a time and actually just put one foot in front of the other, eventually it would pass.

They were right...


Syd said...

Style points....I like that. It sounds like a difficult time but you did get through it one day at a time, one step at a time. I sometimes look back at my life and wonder how I ever made it this far and lived.

Steve E. said...

Sometimes when I "put one foot in front of the other" I have to be careful not to trip.

Having done plenty of tripping,I know. (Just being facetious, one of the old bad habits which will not die.)

Mary Christine said...

I thank God for all the things we get to go through. What a life! Sober!