Sobriety: A Surprising Adventure

I hadn’t been sober long, when I asked my sponsor—a woman I worked with who had just celebrated 20 years—a question that weighed heavy on my mind: What if I get bored in AA? I had tried everything else I could think of before I got here and was convinced I had nowhere else to go. Knowing my reaction to boredom—and not being able to imagine how meeting with you all to read the Big Book and the 12 & 12 several times a week and hearing about how you worked the steps over and over and over again could not EVENTUALLY get BORING—I truly feared I’d be bored before long and head out for other horizons. She suggested that if AA got boring to me, that glass of iced tea I was drinking in her kitchen would, too, and before long I’d be finding something else to drink. That scared me enough to keep me going to my meetings (which included a step study and a Big Book study, as recommended by the old-timers) and working the steps until I could discover how foolish my question was.
I have come to believe that living life under the care of God in the middle of AA is the Greatest Adventure on Earth. My ticket to that adventure is the willingness to take the steps—continually. What opened my eyes to that was my first go at Step 9: making those first, scary (what adventure isn’t scary?), challenging amends, after going over them with my sponsor. The first big amends—telling my ex-husband that I had behave very badly, done hurtful things he never deserved, and that he was right and I was wrong about so many things—was my first taste of the power of these steps to change me. That’s when the hole closed up in my gut, and I’ve never felt that desperate, dark, downward spiral of terror and emptiness for one minute since that day. I still owed him and his wife more direct and living amends, and while there were bumps along that road, the last several years have been good ones.  Every amends after that gave me more freedom, more surprises. Every one gave me a closer view of the spectacularly powerful way God was working in my life and the lives of others.
You would think I’d have rushed right through my list, but no. I’d do a few, then slack off until I was restless, or hurting, or scared. Going back to my 8th step list and making those next amends always gave me peace and comfort and put me back into the adventure God had planned for me! Because many of my amends involved thanking others for their gifts and sacrifices I had ignored, the 9th Step helped me see the world with eyes of gratitude. I began to see gifts all around me, gifts I didn’t earn or expect, and to wake up grateful for every day for the surprises the day would bring.  One of those surprises came this Father’s Day. My dad (a wonderful dad who loved me and my brother and always put his family first in his life) had died suddenly in 1986—two years before I got sober. I had grown away from him as my life spiraled down, treated him badly, caused him worry and heartache, and never really mourned his passing in 26 years. That bothered me, but I didn’t know what to do about it. He should have been on my 8th Step list, and maybe he was—but he was gone and, though I’d heard some of you talk about how you made amends to people who had died, I must not have thought it applied to me! I don’t remember ever talking it over with a sponsor, though I’d been through the steps several times, and it might have been suggested. This year, my son’s father-in-law was dying right before Father’s Day, and while I was telling someone what a wonderful father he was, I got thinking of how many ways he was like my dad. I suddenly started bawling and couldn’t stop. Then, what you said came back to me, and I knew I needed to make amends to my dad—to write a letter to him, take it to his grave, tell it to him, and then burn it. I called my sponsor first (I’ve finally got THAT good habit down!) and she ok’d my plan. She also asked me to look around for fathers whose kids had gone off the rails and comfort them, listen to them,  reassure them that it isn’t their fault, and share my experience, strength and hope.
It was Father’s Day. I wrote the letter, with lots of tears, took it to the cemetery, then burned it in my son’s fire pit. About a week later, I noticed that I was experiencing a new joy and freedom, a new happiness in different circumstances. Some fear and insecurity that I didn’t even realize I had was gone—it was obvious by its absence. I was more comfortable in my own skin. It took a couple of days to realize, and a talk with my sponsor to confirm, that I was experiencing the results of having made that huge, long overdue amends. And that I’m on a new leg of my Great Adventure.  This is when Big Jerry would say to me what he did years ago when I shared the wonder of how my insides had changed after that first amends to my ex-husband: “Kid, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!” That’s as true today as it was then—so long as I’m taking those steps, life will never be boring!
Victoria C., Des Moines, IA

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