why not

The question my sponsor asked me on Tuesday, that he’s asked me before, was: why not? Why not put sobriety first? You haven’t even tried it.

I broke up with my boyfriend a few weeks ago. When it first happened, my friend in the program said “Throw yourself into service.” And I looked at her, puzzled. I knew her before the program and I couldn’t believe she was giving me the AA talk now. More than that, I was confused by the advice itself: How is that even possible? Who does that?

I’ve done it, in part. After I had the talk with my boyfriend, I went to a meeting. I talked about how grateful I was that I could go there now instead of drinking. That it could feel natural. How, a year or two ago, this would have felt so devastating. It would have been terrifying. Now it’s just sad and it’s just what’s happening. Because of recovery and all the forces around it and inside of it – my rehab, the people I’ve met, the stories I’ve heard – I have gratitude now. I have self-confidence. I am able to assign things their proper weight. Showing up to meetings is service in itself, to the newcomers who hear what’s possible. But it’s not what my friend meant.

Before my sponsor said why not, he said I sounded dry, meaning I was not drinking, but I was not in recovery. Dry means miserable. I was surprised. I cried.  I thought I was getting better. I wrote once about many levels of actions and many levels of understanding. I believed in it. I did not feel miserable.

But, I did not feel happy, joyous, and free. I did not feel spiritual. I felt very serious. And, when your sponsor tells you something, you’re supposed to listen. If you’re honest with yourself and everyone, you can tell if they’re right. And he was. I could tell at least by the fact that it shook me up.

The thought that occurred to me after I met with him was this: fuck it. I saw my whole life shrinking and spiraling away from me. I saw my bleak future of meetings and mediocre achievements. Everything blotted out by my handicapped need to stay in AA. And in that spiraling was the evidence of what he was saying. My rejection of it confirmed it. My forgetting what recovery had done. My forgetting what believing in “fuck it” had done. I was dry.

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