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Alcoholics Anonymous

Day 86/90 – Celebrating Sobriety

Day 86 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I got to help a friend celebrate their sobriety anniversary.

Serenity Prayer

Serenity Prayer

The people I’ve met are incredible, and they come from all walks of life. I really appreciate it when I meet people like me – people in their 30s with 10+ years of sobriety. We’re in similar phases of life professionally and in terms of our recovery. I can relate to most people in regards to their program, but it’s special to have friends with who I share so many other similarities as well.

One of those friends celebrated a sobriety “birthday” today. She’s biologically younger than me, but in regards to the program, she’s “older” than me. I love it.

In case you missed it: Day 85 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I’m learning how to be an urban gardener and grow vegetables and herbs on my patio.

Day 67/90 – 11 Years

Day 67 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I celebrated 11 years of sobriety!

That's My Chip!

That’s My Chip!

Holy fucking shit – how did that happen? In so many ways I feel like someone who is fairly new to the program, sitting in one of the “paranoid seats” at the clubhouse with my back to the wall. But when I think about it, I’ve come a long way from that scared, desperate, lost, nearly suicidal person I was 11 years ago.

So many things have happened since then – amazing joys and terrible sorrows – and I throughout all of it, I haven’t had to take a drink or a drug to manage my feelings.

I am so grateful for my Recovery Family who have trudged the road with me. This is absolutely a program of one addict helping another. I am especially grateful for my sponsor. I’ve been with him for over 6 years. He is the person I count on to tell me when things are fucked up and when I am seeing things as they are.

When I asked him to sponsor me, he told me one of the expectations was that I would call or email every day. I couldn’t believe it. How could he asked that of me? I was nearly 5 years sober. I didn’t need to check in every day. However, it’s over 6 years later and I still call or email just about every day, and I look forward to telling him about my day and how I’m feeling.

Something about this sobriety anniversary feels particularly special and surreal, maybe because so much has happened in the last year – new home, new job, and big personal developments. I find myself spinning my chip between my fingers with a big grin on my face.

I feel like I’ve come a long way, and I know there is much work to be done in the future. I’m looking forward to it.

In case you missed it: Day 66 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I’m wearing KT Tape to manage my leg pain so I can keep running.

Day 63/90 – Lunch with Sobriety Siblings

Day 63 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I got to have lunch with two of my sobriety siblings.

My Chips Live in a Dish

My Chips Live in a Dish

One of the key aspects of recovery is building a supportive community around you who will support you and hold you accountable. It’s also the part of my recovery that I tend to suck at, especially given that I am busy, introverted (yes, I’m way more introverted than most people realize), and struggle with low self-esteem. Part of focusing more on my priorities has also meant that I’m putting more energy into my recovery and hanging out with people.

Today was great – after a meeting, I got to hang out with two of my sobriety siblings and meet their dogs. (I’m not using their names to protect their anonymity.) It was relaxing and awesome just to catch up – so much different than networking meetings.

This summer has provided many reminders that I have people in recovery that I can call if I’m having a bad day and want to vent or just to talk with someone who “gets it.” It’s also really interesting to hear other people’s interpretations on what the 12 steps and the various lessons in the Big Book mean. Today, everyone at the table had 10+ years of recovery and all of us had a different perspectives on the program. All that mattered is that it’s one addict helping another, trudging the road together.

In case you missed it: Day 62 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I got to hang out with my friend and partner-in-crime Jeff.

Day 54/90 – Just a Good Day

Day 54 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? It was just a good day overall!

This is a photo from Ignite Phoenix #17 - yes I'm skipping. It embodies how I felt yesterday. (Photo by Joseph Abbruscato, used with permission)

This is a photo from Ignite Phoenix #17 – yes I’m skipping. It embodies how I felt yesterday. (Photo by Joseph Abbruscato, used with permission)

I had to think about what made yesterday awesome. There were so many good things to choose from. There was nothing especially extraordinary about the day but it had good flow and energy:

  • Went to the office – fourth time being the first person in where I didn’t set of the security alarm!
  • Cranked on client work – for many lawyers, summer is a slow time. I’ve had the opposite this year. I’m surprised that so many new and returning clients have asked me to do work for them.
  • Went to therapy – we’re all better people because I sit on my therapists couch every week.
  • Picked up a new water bottle at Runner’s Den – I wanted one that straps to my hand to help me stay hydrated during evening walks and runs.
  • Took Rosie with me to Fellowship Under the Stars – everyone loved her and it was a great meeting.

By the end of the day I was exhausted and I flopped into bed and purposely didn’t set an alarm.

In case you missed it: Day 53 of the 90 Days of Awesome – no cavities at the dentist!

Day 40/90 – AA Under the Stars

Day 40 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I went to the Fellowship Under the Stars Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting.

Tempe AZ - Tempe Town Lake 10th Birthday by Dean Ouellette from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Tempe AZ – Tempe Town Lake 10th Birthday by Dean Ouellette from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I’ve been in recovery for a few 24 hours, and my therapist recently suggested that I go to more 12-step meetings. I was feeling of bit lonely tonight, so I jumped on the Phoenix AA website to see what meetings were in my area. On the list was a meeting that I had never heard of: Fellowship Under the Stars. It’s an outdoor meeting that meets on the north bank of Tempe Town Lake.

Sometimes it’s nice to go to meetings that I’ve never been to before. On one hand, it gives me a way to be quiet, shy, and avoid connecting with people (behavior that is not encouraged by my therapist). On the other hand, when I go to a new meeting, I get to just be a person. Nobody knows what I do for a living, my talents, or my accomplishments. I’m just another guy in the program. When I go to meetings where people know me, I get to connect more; however, people also ask me about my work and my projects, and it’s too easy to get caught up in talking about what I do rather than how I feel. And one of my challenges is allowing myself to be a human being, rather than a human doing.

The meeting was fabulous. I loved that it was outside in the fresh air and under the increasingly darkening night sky. It’s a speaker/discussion meeting, one of my preferred formats for AA meetings. We kept the bugs away with awesome smelling citronella candles, and some people brought their dogs. I really enjoyed it. The next time I go, I hope I can bring Rosie.

In case you missed it: Day 39 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I Love My Clients!

SALK Day 129: The Miracle of Recovery

Today’s sponsor is my dear friend who is celebrating 22 years of sobriety this week.  He asked me to write about recovery from addiction.  I’ve had the privilege of knowing a handful of incredible people who are recovering from addictions to various substances.  It is amazing to hear their stories about how their lives used to be and to see them now as functional and successful people.  Most of my friends who have done this needed help from a recovery program like Alcoholics Anonymous.

AA Big Book

Image via Wikipedia

The transformation that people in recovery can experience is incredible.  One of my friends used to be a prostitute when she was using, and now she’s a nanny for a family with a special needs child.  Another one of my friends used to be a misanthropic drug dealer who sold drugs to college kids to support his habit, and now he’s close to finishing his college degree and has aspirations of going to graduate school.  He’s also one of the most thoughtful and gentle people I’ve ever met.

A few years ago, I invited one of my friends who is in recovery to dinner with my parents.  He is one of the kindest and warm-hearted people you will ever meet and he does not hide the fact that he’s in recovery.  Afterwards, as Mom and I were washing the dishes, she turned to me and asked, “Did he used to be really messed up?”  She couldn’t believe that this wonderful intelligent person that I’m proud to call my friend used to be drunk and/or high on a daily basis.

These are only a handful of the stories of recovery.  Dozens of AA Speaker Tapes of people’s stories of recovery are available for free on iTunes.  These are people who were so full of pain and shame, who had no self-esteem, and were so uncomfortable in their skin that they had a compulsion to medicate their feelings with drugs and alcohol, regardless of the consequences.  It’s amazing that the found the help they needed and stuck with the program to get sober.

And it’s hard work.  I’ve heard that programs like Alcoholics Anonymous are simple, but not easy.  They require a willingness to be uncomfortable and to learn to live in a new way where people don’t have the option of self-medicating to escape their discomfort.  It requires being willing to walk through fear and not self-sabotage their potential for success.  The work is worth it, because recovery comes with hope, freedom, and the ability to dream again.

Tonight, I asked my friend who, if all goes according to plan, will be celebrating 22 years of sobriety this week what advice he would give to someone who is contemplating recovery or who is new to the program.  He said, “You’re worth it.  You’re worth giving it a try.  You have nothing else to lose.  Give yourself permission not to self-sabotage.”

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Anonymous.  For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.