A fortnight of years in sobriety

Today marks my 14th anniversary of my last drunk. I sort of remember it, although for years I couldn’t recall the exact time (as in hour/minute) I took my last drink. I still can’t. I won’t bother with the details of my last drunk as I’ve written about them before.

Question: “How’d I do it?” Answer: “One day at a time!!” Well, there’s more to it than that, but in essence the twelve step practice of taking each day as it comes does help.

Sometimes I have to take each hour as it comes.

Speaking of the Twelve Steps, yes, they are useful. A wonderful lifeline when other things are absent or insufficient. (Absent or insufficient because they have not been developed enough as a response to external factors that may create a desire to drink.)

My Catholic Faith was and is more useful. I do know that if I had to rely solely upon the spirituality of the Twelve Steps and meeting attendance, I’d be one of those poster children for relapses; “those people” you see who enter the program, “get it” for a while, and then go back out.

Once in a while there are stressors. Anxiety, isolation, economic concerns and so forth well up and I think, “Just one drink to take the edge off.” But no, I don’t. I get through it (“One hour at a time, one minute at a time…”) and move on.

At times like those I also grab my AA literature (the Big Book or 12 & 12) and get help that way. Sometimes I feel the need for a meeting, but don’t bother (I seriously am NOT a meeting person. Never was, never will be. Online recovery works for me. I visit In the Rooms a lot.)

Sometimes when I feel that way, that my Faith and other personal means to maintain sobriety aren’t working, and I feel the need to fall back on traditional fixes like “going to a meeting” or “calling a sponsor” then I assess the state of my Faith. Sincerely, the Faith is all one should need.

Jesus came to heal the broken and wounded. The sick. We are all that and so His Church and the sacraments and devotions should work. They have, for me and for others that I’ve run across over the years. But at times they seem to be “not enough.”

But that isn’t an indictment of the Faith, or possibly not even my practice of it. There’s a list of saints very long who have gone through frequent periods of spiritual dryness, times when the Faith “wasn’t there.” They persevered and discerned that it was God’s way of drawing them closer. It is a path of spiritual growth and development (see St. Teresa of Jesus, a/k/a St. Teresa of Avila.) We feel distant and therefore we persevere and strive on, or we abandon the path.

I stay on the path. (This must be why images and symbols of “the path,” “the road,” “the way,” “the journey” resonate with me.)

I have come to feel that in those times when I feel the urge to drink is strong, and I need to respond in a traditional twelve step way, that I need to work on my Faith. I need to make a Spiritual Communion, or meditate on the Holy Spirit and His indwelling in me, or talk to the Blessed Mother. If this sounds selfish to you who are avid and devoted Twelve-Steppers, so be it. For the most part, my experience with AA has been at variance with the common conception of a “fellowship.” It’s just one more organization where I am a misfit, despite trying.

To me, AA and meeting attendance are training wheels or a crib. Eventually you outgrow them. You learn to ride on your own without the help of training wheels, and you move out of the crib. Useful to understand alcoholism and get the basics of Twelve Step spirituality and how to change your way of thinking and responding to situations, but after a fashion, one should learn what the Faith has to offer.

We were created by God. We exist to love Him and serve Him in this life and to be united and happy with Him forever in the next life (Heaven.) To get through this life He has established a Church to guide us.

We are obligated and we owe Him the duty to fully explore that Church and the Faith that springs up around Her. This does not mean leaving AA, if that suits your sobriety and you really enjoy it, then fine. It can be considered a work of mercy. Perhaps even a source for friendships.

But working within a Twelve Step program shouldn’t come at the expense of your Catholic Faith; that is like continuing to eat pureed baby food when the bread of life is readily available.

That’s all I have to say! I’ve just been very reflective on my fourteen years, where I’ve been, am now and where I’m going, along with the means for the way.

Just trudgin’ my road of happy destiny.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)