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  • Charles Gosset

Sobriety is the Gift that Keeps on Giving

As I'm approaching another 365 days around the sun, I'm reflecting on the gift that keeps on giving: sobriety.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

There are so many struggling right now and we're losing far too many to the unforgiving disease of addiction.


I've been sober and in active recovery for many years. That's still surprising to me because I thought I would never make it. It took me 5 hard years of trying to get sober before it finally stuck. The longest stretch I had up to that point was 3 months, and that seemed like an eternity. For anyone who's struggled with addiction you know what I'm talking about.


I'm very aware that most cases don't end up like mine. I have a loving wife Cristy who went through nearly all of this with me, two exceptional daughters, and as one old timer in AA said, my share of "extra innings." More than that, I've been granted the rare privilege to truly live before I die. That's all I ever really wanted and it took what it took to find it.


One of my favorite memories was being able to be there for my sponsor Mike J. during his last days on earth. I remember one night he had driven a couple of hours just to hear me speak at a meeting. You see, Mike was family so he always put his recovery and the recovery of others first. At one point during my active addiction, he told my wife that he would make sure that they were taken care of if I didn't make it. That's what real recovery is all about.


The picture below is from that night, together with our two daughters. The clothes I'm wearing, including the bolo tie, belonged to my grandfather. He was a chronic alcoholic that never found recovery. But the suit fits so I wear it to remember where I come from.

After my talk, Mike mentioned some tightness in his chest while we were having dinner. It turned out that it was cancer, but it took a little while to find that out. In the meantime, his mother had starting declining. Slowly he did too. Mike was in the hospital when his mother died and he was unable to attend her funeral. He asked me and a few other friends in recovery to attend in his place. It was such an honor to be there for him.


On Mike's final day, I heard the news that he had just passed and I went to see him one last time. I stood over his body in the hospital, and with his family's permission, read out loud with tears streaming down my face his favorite part of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous - the 10th Step Promises:


"And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone-even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality—safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition."


Those words are so true and Mike taught me so much about living without alcohol. Life on life's terms. His funeral was something I will never forget. As a member of a Native American tribe, it's the family's tradition to give gifts to friends and other family members as a part of the service. I was surprised to hear my name called. When I went to receive the gift, it was my sponsor's entire collection of AA sobriety chips. I was completely stunned and overwhelmed. I still have them to this day on my home altar.


I'm grateful to God, AA, the teachings of Buddha, family, friends, and others in recovery. If you're seeking a better life, then don't stop trying. You will surely meet some of us along the way as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.


One day at a time,

Charles


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