I always smile to myself when someone I know in our 12 step program says, "You are so strong. You can't know what I am going through right now".
The person saying it usually has been sober less than a year. Now that does not mean that the people with more than a year don't think the same thing about those who have walked this path ahead of us. The only difference between me and a newcomer is I know what not to blurt out loud in front of people. I save my goofier statements for my sponsor alone as I am pretty sure she needs the laugh.
The way I have been 'raised' in my program is to consider myself a newcomer until I have 20 years of continuous sobriety. That being said, today is my last day of being a newcomer.
Twenty years ago I stumbled through the doors of the Concord Fellowship for the umpteenth time, sick and lonely and still pretty drunk. The next day, May 4, 1992, I went a full day without a drink of alcohol. I had done that before too. I don't know why May 4th became my sobriety date other than I was so angry at Fast Eddie for telling me to 'go out and get done' that I was eager to prove the old jerk wrong. I am not a loser, I thought. I'll show you.
And I did.
The path has not been easy for me. I was two years sober before I returned to Holy Mother Church, two years sober before I really understood Step Three, and two years sober before I was able to quit one of the three jobs I had to have in order to make financial amends for all the wreckage I had caused while drinking and drugging.
I have made a lot of mistakes in public, in the rooms of the 12 step program to which I belong and in front of people at work and at home. I have made amends, apologies, messes and progress. The one thing I have done right is I have not picked up a drink or a drug since May 4th, 1992.
When someone says to me, "You are so strong!" I remember being curled up in a fetal position on the floor of my bedroom when I was 8 years sober, sobbing because HE had dumped me. Later, I discovered HE had bilked me out of 30 grand and lied about being a Vietnam Veteran. When I wrote about that for the Modesto Bee, another member of the fellowship in Modesto decided I was talking about him and began a two year stalking reign of terror that I tried to combat by documenting it online.
When someone says to me, "You are so strong!" I remember getting my big promotion to the SO and then leaving that job every day for the first 6 months sobbing because E was so horrid to me, V (my boss) would not back me up and I was convinced I had made the biggest career mistake ever. When I left there, people cried because I was leaving.
Today I am down to 173 pounds from 260 last October. I am sitting here in a size 8 pair of jeans, in a fabulous job and about to have lunch with an old friend from Health Services.
My bills are paid, my health is good, I'm a Catechist and a Dominican - and I am sober.
Thank you, God for the life I have today. I cannot imagine it being any better and no matter what, I offer it all to YOU. Please do with it as You wish and allow me to be Your servant.