Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Length matters little

I talk about my sobriety date once per year - when I pick up a chip.

I was "raised" in a group that took sobriety dates very seriously. When we introduced ourselves at meetings, we gave our sobriety date. Old Timers heard the soft ooohs and aaahhhs of newcomers. Newcomers received smiles of encouragement as they recited that they had now made it another day. I ooohhhed and aaahhhed as needed and smiled encouragingly as warranted. At first, I had days of sobriety, then months. Most of the people that got sober around the time I did vanished. Then I had a year, then multiple years.

One day, as I introduced myself in the customary fashion, I mentioned that I had been sober almost 5 years. In the beat of quiet between my introduction and the next person's, I heard it - softly - but I heard it still:


And then began the churning of my magic, magnifying mind: Yep, all hail the badass. Betcha want to be like me someday, huh?

It took one whispered word to activate my ego. My ego began to whisper back that I no longer belonged at that group - or any meeting actually, because there was something good on TV that night or I was tired of hearing Woe-is-Me Wanda recount her latest dope-fueled drama (again). So I stopped going to meetings as much.

When it occurred to me that I wasn't going to meetings as often, I then recalled members who often said that they always called people who had quit showing up. This activated the indignation cycle: where was my phone call? Didn't they care about me?

Cue righteous indignation: after all I've done for that sorry place!

These are the sounds of my spiritual condition eroding. I am now focused on me, rather than on my purpose. All over one whispered word of admiration over my sobriety date.

When I was growing up, my father refused to tell my brother or me how much money he made at his job. If we asked, he'd say "Enough." or "Why? Did you have some allowance to return to me?"

He didn't tell us because he didn't want us to blow it out of proportion: to think we were rich (we weren't) or wonder whether we had enough (we did). We didn't need to dwell on that issue.

Today, I rarely even think about how long I've been sober. Yes, I tell newcomers, but only when asked. I don't need to dwell on quantity. We all have today, and regardless of whether you've been to one meeting or a thousand, that's enough.


thailandchani said...

I agree that length isn't that important. In the beginning, it seems to be a useful tool, more for encouragement than anything. I have 33 years and find it useless to tell people that - because what's the difference between 5 or 33? It's about quality sobriety - and that's a lot harder.


schleprock said...

I agree. How long you have been sober is really insignificant after about 5 years. If you have 5 years the odds are that your going all the way.
What you are doing with your sobriety, however, is critical. I have met guys (and gals)who have been sober for years and might as well of been drunk. They have done nothing with it. They got to self pity and just stopped.
What a shame.