Standing up at the end of the 5:45 AA meeting at Triangle, I said, “Hi, my name is Jack.”
“Hi, Jack,” came the familiar response. “I’m an alcoholic, and it’s been eighteen years since my last drink.” The audience, which was filled with familiar faces, all clapped, smiled, and hooted their approbation. Eighteen years makes you a rock star at AA. It was a wonderful moment. As the applause subsided, I said, “I remember the day I picked up my white chip like it was yesterday. I was determined to stop drinking, but I had no idea how to do it. It took about a year for me to come to the point where I no longer craved alcohol. I thought that was all I needed.”
When I said this, most people laughed. Like me, they knew my journey to sobriety had just begun.
Continuing, I said, “By the time I picked up my five-year chip, I no longer thought like an alcoholic. It took that long for me to become sober—completely sober.”
Several newcomers groaned when I said this, recognizing the daunting task that lay before them.
“When I picked up my ten-year chip,” I said, “I had finally learned how to incorporate my recovery tools into other areas of my life. And from then until my fifteenth anniversary, I learned how to live day-by-day in recovery, especially understanding the value of being completely honest with myself.”
“From fifteen until now has been pure fulfillment. Every day, I help someone—no matter what. It’s always like that—not just some days.”
Looking at some of my friends who were beaming, I continued. “Most people don’t learn to live until they are told they are dying. I want more for my life than that. Continuous fulfillment is achievable, as long as I remain sober in body and spirit—one day at a time. Thanks for being there for me when few others were. It means the world to me.”
As I sat down, I realized I was no longer a prisoner of my past. My chains have been broken, and I’m free to go forward, embracing the truth and the light. I’m free to finish strong.