I was just blessed with a 5-Year Chip. “What is that?”, you ask. Chips in Alcoholics Anonymous represent milestones of time achieved in sobriety. There are 24-Hour Chips, also called Desire Chips. There are monthly chips. There are yearly chips. These all represent surrender and acceptance and the time we have being clean and sober.
“Surrender to what?” For me there are many words I’ve learned since birth that hold negative connotations. Surrender was one of them. I’ve had to unlearn much of what I adopted from society.
Today surrender for me means I accept that I am an alcoholic. I’ve learned that alcoholism is a disease that I did not choose, nor can I will-power away. Kind of like being a woman or of Chinese descent. It is what it is. Period. Therefore, surrender is no longer a word in my dictionary holding thoughts of loss. In this case for me, it actually denotes thoughts of victory…accepting the cards I’ve been dealt and being okay with them, but more so, even thriving from them.
“So what’s the big deal with these chips?” Even though one of the slogans I learned in AA is “There are no big deals”, receiving these chips IS A BIG DEAL to me. You see, I’m an alcoholic. That means I have a physical allergy to alcohol and a mental obsession to it as well.
Believe you me that I have tried every imaginable remedy to NOT drink everyday, morning, noon and night. Why was it that drinking was all I could think about? Aaahhh…done with work. Now I can drink. Aaahhh…work week is over. Now I can drink. Aaahhh…holiday. Now I can drink. Well that snowballed into everyday that ends in “Y”. Now I can drink. It snowballed from “now I can drink” to “I have to drink.” Drinking took over my entire life, my mind, body and soul. Shitty, yeah?
So for an alcoholic who has reached rock bottom, who cannot live a normal life without drinking, any length of time in sobriety IS A BIG DEAL. But I am here to share another big deal that I’ve learned along my journey through life. Once I built that solid foundation of a life in recovery, there are no guarantees that I get to keep it.
Why would I want to keep it? Because I don’t HAVE TO DRINK today and everyday. I don’t have to live my entire life in negativity and despair. I don’t have to hate and loathe myself. I don’t have to feel I’m a waste of space on the planet.
Today I get to have a purpose to share my experience, strength and hope with the world. That includes sharing my journey with other alcoholics who are struggling with or trying to get to sobriety. But that also includes sharing my journey and optimism with everyone who enters my bubble who has demons with which they are dealing. We all have them.
Alcoholics Anonymous, the fellowship, the Big Book, the Twelve Steps, have gifted me with a life beyond my wildest dreams! Please note, that I do not represent the organization of Alcoholics Anonymous in any way, shape or form. Everything shared here is my opinion. My growth from using these tools have awarded me self-love, self-worth, and self-respect. I had none of that before getting sober.
Why? Because I lived in fear. The experiences I received from society ingrained in me that more is better…more power, more money, more beauty, more material things, more of all that stuff that would never make me happy inside my being.
So I lived a life trying to impress you. I lived a life of a lie because I didn’t love myself. Today my story is to stress to you that you do not have to live this way. Be true to yourself. Love yourself. Accept yourself for the gift that you are. Gifts that only you have! And share those gifts.
Ok. Back to having no guarantees of keeping this most awesome life in sobriety. You see, my life got good. I stayed sober. I actively participated in my recovery with the AA fellowship and did all that was suggested. One day at a time. But more and more good stuff kept being served up on my plate. I couldn’t keep up. And one day at a time I sacrificed my AA ties for the gifts of sobriety. I went to fewer meetings. I stopped giving back what was so freely given me when I needed it most. I separated myself from the newcomer so I forgot what it was like struggling to get sober.
I “thought” I was staying connected to my Higher Power, a Power Greater Than Myself, to which I vowed to turn over my will and my life. But without staying active with the AA fellowship, my thoughts once again took over. Dee’s will once again took over. I was fooling myself and had no genuinely interested party to call me on my shit.
When offered that shot of tequila the words vomited from my mouth, “No, thank you. I haven’t had a drink in 13 and a half years.” Vomit. Just words. No meaning. No heart. So when that drink was left for me, it yelled at me. My insurance policy had lapsed long ago when I stopped going to meetings. So I drank it.
Immediately the devil and the drink, the disease of Alcoholism, took over every fiber of my being. Immediately I wanted more. Thus, lying, cheating, hiding and all the negativity that comes with my drinking once again reared its ugly head. You see, the disease was doing push ups waiting for that pinhole of weakness to arise. And it did!
Once being exposed to AA and going back out (drinking, drugging), actively using will never be the same. We have learned where this disease will take us. To the gates of insanity, hell or death. “Thinking” that I was having a nervous breakdown, my doctor told me to simply get back into AA. Never even occurred to me; that’s how sick I was.
Once again I am on that pick cloud of life in sobriety doing everything suggested by the fellowship and my new sponsor. I take a 1-Year Chip. And then…
I guess I wasn’t truly ready to surrender to this disease. I needed to play Russian Roulette just one more time. When my dentist asked if I had any pain pills before extracting a tooth (and I did check off on the admission form that I AM an alcoholic; so what?), this happy little kid in a candy store elatedly said, “No!” Off and running again. So when there was no pain and plenty of pills left, I knew I had blown my sobriety, so I drank them down.
Hey, I was actively involved in AA and the fellowship. What gives? My Higher Power gives. He gives me lessons and a journey to bring me to where He needs me to be.
A few more months of enjoying the high of lying, cheating, hiding. Hitting meetings and repeatedly saying, “Hi, I’m Dee. I’m an alcoholic. I drank last night”. Then drinking again. Going through an out-patient program. Hitting my knees. Hoping through osmosis that I would stop drinking.
Surrender and acceptance. Today I have a 5-year chip. I also have a 1-year chip. And a 13-year chip. No guarantees, boys and girls. Please, do not “Keep Coming Back”. PLEASE, DO NOT EVER LEAVE!!!
Much aloha to you and thank you for reading. Know that you are not unique and definitely not alone. We are here for you. Not to judge you but to love you until you can love yourself. Know not to feel guilt nor shame. Just accept and surrender. Let’s ride this pink cloud together…forever and ever!
For those interested in Art with a Message of Recovery, Hope and Optimism, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com. Mahalo and enjoy!
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