Grace and Nothing More


It’s quiet 31 floors above the Atlanta streets. I hear the high-pitched whistle of the tinnitus, the massive fans on the air conditioners that cool this monster of a hotel, a pack of motorcycles speeding through the city streets. Now sirens. Now it’s quiet again.

I just enjoyed a nice dinner with the man I’m sharing this hotel room with (separate beds). I’m in Atlanta for a convention.

Earlier tonight I found myself in the company of about 65,000 other sober alcoholics. It was a powerful experience, humbling in fact given where the disease of addiction once took me. I sat there tonight thinking about all the misery that was the price of admission for these thousands of strangers I know so well. I thought about all the alcohol and “dry goods” we’d consumed as a group on our way to getting “here”. And I also thought about the collective joy we experience having escaped (just for today) from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. I’m one of the lucky ones. Most people who cross that invisible line into active addiction never make it into sobriety at all and most who enter sobriety don’t stay. Statistically, the odds are that I will die drunk but I’m doing everything I can to beat those odds and for almost eighteen years now, with the help of God and my fellows, I’ve been able to.

Any of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while have been regaled of the some of the stories from “back in the day.” I have such a bad case of the disease, even now, after all these years of sobriety and with memories of all those years of catastrophe before I got sober, I still think sometimes I might like to have a drink. Luckily those thoughts are fleeting and are almost immediately replaced with a more rational one– something like, “You are a frickin’ idiot if you do that. Remember the hell your life was before you were able to stop.” There were suicide attempts and crashed cars and ruined relationships and dead dreams; I don’t have to go back there (and actually “pick up”) to realize that drugs and alcohol simply don’t/won’t work for me.

Last September, things had gotten pretty bad for me even though I was still sober. If I am completely truthful, it was the same disease that had me once again at death’s doorstep, just other manifestations of it– underearning; compulsivity around food, sex and spending; and some pretty hard-core codependency. I committed (when I realized that suicide simply wasn’t/isn’t an option for me) to doing what I needed to do to get better and as my regular readers know, it has been a struggle. It would have been a struggle under the gentlest of life circumstances but actually, life has pretty much offered me the opposite of gentle during that time. I’m not complaining. I turned my will and my life over to the care of God as I (don’t or barely) understand God and so I have to trust that this process is– well, just that: a process. I’m willing to hang in and do the hard work. I’m willing to go to any length to stay sober (in the myriad ways that one might be sober) and my being in Atlanta this weekend is part of that process.

I’m so very grateful for my life and grateful to have escaped (for now at least) the jaws of The Beast. I’ve seen addiction take down so many good people in the past 25 years of my trying to get better. My heart will always break for the alcoholic/addict who still suffers whether they are actively using/drinking or trying to stay sober. Grace has me here in this super-comfortable bed in a nice hotel about to go to sleep without having had anything alcoholic to drink today. Grace. Nothing else.

For that, too, I am exceptionally grateful.

See y’all tomorrow.

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