It was the longest day of the year, literally and figuratively. My eyes were bloodshot from dealing with momentous shifts in my typical fashion. I didn’t only drink destructively, but for months, the pattern had developed a degenerative orbit. I remember calling a close friend. Telling him I needed his help.
When he arrived at my apartment, the pint of bourbon was already opened. The coffee mug of Jim Beam sat in front of me. I told him, “I’m going to drink this. I’m probably going to drink the whole bottle. Nobody goes to their first AA meeting sober.” We left for the meeting shortly after I finished the mug.
It has been six months since that last drink. Six months of healthy living. Six months of investment in myself. Six months of removing poison from my mind. Six months of detoxifying my body. Six months of rebuilding my spirit.
So, though today may be the shortest day of the year, for me, it has been peaceful and full.
On an ordinary day, the rooms fill slowly at first. Usually one or two people show up and start brewing the coffee. A little sign is hung outside the doors indicating the purpose with two simple letters. A few members of the smoking crowd begin to gather around a picnic bench. Conversation begins. Hand shakes and a few laughs are shared. The group inside begins to grow. The soft murmur of small talk grows to a light clamor. The energy can be felt. Familiar faces young and old gather at their respective tables. There is certainly no set seating arrangement, but everyone finds their place. The old timers gaze thoroughly through the crowd. The new comers behave in a number of different ways. Some eager to begin, some shy to exist. As the energy comes to a peak, the simple ding of a bell quiets the audience.
Each individual group has their own qualities that set them apart. Little nuances that make them unique. The meeting is lead by a chairperson who sets the stage with a five minute opening. In this opening the chairperson briefly establishes the format of a meeting, and typically introduces the topic to be discussed. Then the meeting is opened to the floor.
On the surface, that is it. A room, some chairs, a topic, and a group of people talking about said topic. But just below the surface is an ocean of power and depth. We walked throught the doors lost, broken, and alone. Our stories of what it was like before we stepped into these rooms are of heartache, despair, and pain.
I can only speak for myself when I say, I was defeated. I had nothing left. The last six months of my drinking were the darkest months of my life. My tank was on empty. I was drained of life. The thought of another morning committed to a bottle had shattered my soul, but it was all I knew. I had painted a picture for the world that looked bright and full, but I lived behind that curtain. I lived my life in a dark room, with the shades drawn shut. I drank whiskey and wine from a coffee mug, and left the bottle on the table next to it; knowing that it wouldn’t be worth putting it in the cabinet across the room.
It is said that nobody can get between and alcoholic and their bottom. They have to meet it face to face. They have to feel the piercing pain. Everyone has their own bottom, and when I met mine, something fundamentally changed within me. Providence. God said, “Enough Bullshit, Nic.” I walked through the doors that day, knowing that my life depended on my surrender. My acceptance of a power greater than myself was my salvation. I had found my faith some time prior to this day, but I never employed the power that came with it. A God of my understanding set me free that day. There is no other way to explain what happened.
These rooms have given me a whole new life, and I am not alone. The power of these rooms is rooted in divinity. In These Rooms, life is renewed.
After three months of sobriety, my eyes are beginning to open. I am recognizing truths I was once unable to see. In looking back, it has become clear, that I was living in a world of my own creation. Even many of my memories were compositions of half truths. From the outside, all appeared well. I was hard working, ambitious, and successful. In turning my life over to this spiritual program, I have begun to love myself again.
The idea that we may be wrong is difficult to accept. The fact that we are and were wrong, when we knew we were right is derailing. It is derailing, because it should be. If the track we were riding on was so misguided that it lead us into a world of delusion, being derailed is hands down, the best thing we could ask for.
Immersing ourselves into a life of illuminated truth, and acting on standards of higher spirituality, requires that we willingly let go of the belief that the will of self is genuinely righteous. Our ability to choose, and our gift of free will comes at a heavy cost. Often, the objects we seek in such an unenlightened pursuit are fruitless seeds of unrealistic expectations, and thus give birth to a life of despair and hopelessness. Perhaps in some cases this despair and hopelessness may be concealed on the surface by an existence filled with materialistic riches; the truth of the matter remains, the root of the being is poisoned.
It isn’t until we conduct a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves that we can begin to heal the root of our being. This journey promises a new life. I have faced some very true pain, and loss in these first few months. But today, I am armed with an arsenal of tools that are anchored in a power far greater than one I have ever known. Today, I am more encouraged and excited than I have ever been before.
Caught in the turbulent seas of a storm ridden coast, a small john boat chugged its way back to port. The novice man behind the helm had little experience with such weather, but was confident that he was poised safely ahead of the severe front to come. Small flashes of light broke through the distant rain bands, followed by calm and muted rolling rumbles.
When the engine began to sputter, the young man’s gaze shifted to the distant shore. Nothing more than a sliver of shadows was present on the horizon. He knew he tested the limits one too many times. He ventured beyond the safe bounds, and the hazards of probability had finally caught up to him.
As the engine choked and the boat began to coast into a drift, the rolling rumbles were no longer so muted. The flashes of light became more vibrant in the dimming light of dusk and storm. The wind grew in strength and was filled with mist of the foaming sea. Knowing only that a boat adrift is a boat destine for danger, his ability to control the situation was limited to an anchor of hope.
With a strong toss, the anchor marched swiftly to the sea floor below. He knew to give himself a fair length of line in order to tow into the coming seas. Cracking skys of wind, water, light, and sound bore fully upon him. His free will was what brought him into the precarious calamity, but a will beyond his own would decide his fate. Surrender was behind him. He knew he was powerless. His decisions had made the situation unmanageable. Perhaps he once believed he was bigger than the power of the sea, but no more. That sort of thinking was clearly outside the realms of sanity. His will and his life were now in the care of a higher power. A higher power to which he calmly and willingly submit. In but a moment, clarity was upon him.
Two chairs. Thats how it started. Two chairs at the end of a dock. Each holding a piece of a hopeful future. The potential of each was unlimited. Side by side they could set the stage for a life paired to take on the world. But the shadows that set the stage were ever present. The storms that clouded the dock demanded attention. They demanded that they be addressed… and to turn a blind eye to the threat was foolish.
But life was so exciting in the sunshine. The ambition and drive seemed to clear the path. A new life amid hope. And, love… oh love. It masked the bitter clutch of peril that lie ahead.
The grip of the bottle was ingrained deeper than either knew. Its hidden and cunning toll was concealed in coats of glamourous oil colors, and adventure that spanned the globe. The strives of accomplishment so great that no such evil could be thought to lie just below the surface. Intellect and charm convinced even the sharpest of minds that the stumbles of the past were merely hurdles. In truth they were tearing screams of a drowning soul coming up for gasps of life. But the subconscious mind was fierce to protect, a habit that crippled the life in which it had taken root.
As time passed, the toll began to show signs on the surface. Rust began to creep at the corners and edges. Without the attention, the unvarnished chair of the pair weakened. Its task to bear the weight of life was under question; yet even in this dire time, no immediate action was taken.
And then it happened. The weight of the bottle broke the legs of the unvarnished chair. The lack of self care, and attention brought the chair to failure. Riddled with the rot of neglect the chair was forced to its knees. To it’s knees. Exactly where it belonged.
Let it be known that the legs, though rusted and weary, can and will be repaired. The formidable days behind built a strong soul. Appreciation and respect for the storms past, come as cautionary tales that need be heeded. Understanding that those storms are on the brink of every horizon is essential. That every day is a new chance, and every chance is a new opportunity. Life will be whole, with new purpose. Hope will anchor the soul and the sunshine will return.