Hi: My name is Bill and I am an alcoholic.
Today, March 18, 2014, is a very important day for me because it is the anniversary of my 24th year of continuous sobriety. Yes, it is a mind-boggling 24 years without a drop of alcohol entering my body. As I reflect on the events of the past 24 years it is apparent to me that much has changed in me, hopefully, almost all of it for the better.
I believe the most important change has been my ability to live my life by one of the fundamental teachings of Alcoholics Anonymous, that is, "One Day At A Time."
This concept was totally foreign to me prior to March 18, 1990. Now, on reflection, it was the major thing that saved me during that first tumultuous and frightening year when it seemed that my world was crashing down around me. People who I thought were my friends were calling for my resignation, my young grandsons were being approached by aggressive reporters and my home in Bartow was being picketed by the Ku Klux Klan.
I think I survived, especially during that first terrible year, because I came to believe that my Higher Power, whom I choose to call God, would not deal me more than I could handle in any one day.
After completing a 28-day residential inpatient recovery program at Hanley/Hazelden Center in West Palm Beach, FL, I began to make my way through the Alcoholics Anonymous program by regularly attending meetings and by working the suggested 12 Steps Of Recovery, which are:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.
As I have written before, at my retirement party in Bartow, FL, in January 1995, I made reference to the role of Alcoholics Anonymous in my recovery by reading the following from the book called "Twenty-Four Hours A Day" ...
YESTERDAY, TOMORROW, AND TODAY
“There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days which should be kept from fear and apprehension. One of these days is yesterday, with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed. We cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone beyond recall."
"The other day we should not worry about is tomorrow, with its possible adversities, its burdens, its large promise, and perhaps its poor performance. Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control. Tomorrow's sun will rise, either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds, but it will rise. Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is as yet unborn."
"This leaves only one day - today. Any one can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the burden of those two awful eternity's, yesterday and tomorrow, that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives us mad. It is the remorse or bitterness for something which happened yesterday or the dread of what tomorrow may bring. Let us therefore do our best to live but one day at a time.” Twenty-Four Hours a Day, July 29, 30, and 31
Yes, this is how I have attempted to live my life for the past 8,760 days.
I deeply regret that 9 dear friends: David Patterson; Ray Coker; Marvin Mounts; Tom Macdonald; Randy Bentley; Gilbert Goshorn; Jack Davis; Bud Coker; and, Dexter Douglass, who were each with me at the beginning of my first steps toward recovery, are no longer able to share with me the wonderment of these 8,760 days lived One Day At A Time. I miss you guys, I really do.
I also must add that none of this time in recovery would have been possible without: the dedicated staff at Hanley/Hazelden Center in West Palm Beach, FL; the continued support of my family; Ginger Flowers of Atlanta, GA; Danny Keith; and, so many of you loyal and faithful readers and followers. Thank you all so very much.
To my NYC AA buddies, and you know who you are, thank you for allowing me to stand beside you during these difficult and trying times. Together we will continue to survive, in sobriety. Seeya at the 12:30pm Beginners Meeting on Wednesday, as usual.
In closing - not to preach - but aren’t The 12 Steps and One Day At A Time, in and of themselves, pretty good guidelines for living a meaningful and manageable life?
I report - you decide.
PS: My loyal and faithful readers and followers==>please feel free to pass this on to anyone of your choosing.