One of the most magical things that happens in LifeRing’s e-mail groups is that someone new(er) to the group who may be struggling or have multiple relapses under their belt might post something about how difficult it’s been for them, but how it’s so seemingly easy for others…
And then the group does what it does best, and post after post from other members who’ve been through much the same things roll in, and the original poster realizes they’re really, truly not alone, and that despite everything they’ve been through, there really, truly is hope for them, too.
This month’s Keeper is one such response from long-time group member Richard:
[Replying after another member told their story] “…my story is such that I can’t tell it even in the space you used. So here is the very truncated version for you and anybody else who might benefit.
I’m one of those folks who drank to excess from the time I started. I was surrounded in my youth with lots of other big drinkers and drug-takers, and I managed to function (i.e.,get up and go to work, or school) most of the time, despite being out of control with uppers, pot, acid, always accompanied by lots and lots of booze.
When I turned 30, I had my first kid, and then a couple of years later had another one on the way. Until then, the big deal was the few times I had stopped for a week or two, just to prove I could do it. But I knew I needed help, and finally sought it, entering a rehab in the summer of ’84. I had to go back again in the spring of ’85, and this time it stuck for a decade.
I was directed to AA and found a home there, of sorts. My life improved significantly, although of course I still had a lot of ‘issues.’ I remain grateful to this day that I was sober throughout much of my kid’s youth, despite having split with their mom after a few years.
Finally, nearly ten years after stopping, I decided (while on a business trip in the midst of a painful break-up), that going on a little bender ‘just this once,’ would be okay. After all, I had been in therapy most of the ten years I’d been sober, and told myself I had ‘grown’ so much that I’d have no problem resuming long-term sobriety. I lasted a couple of months, and then the drinking times started getting closer and closer.
So, I stumbled inadvertently into LifeRing 15 years ago, and started putting together some longish periods of sobriety, but I never seemed to hold onto it. Finally, in February of 2010, I began what is now by far my second longest period of sobriety, which is continuing.
I should stress that not everybody struggles, and I do have to say that I have no doubt that my extended periods of sobriety probably saved my life. I figure I’ve been sober over 20 of the last 31 years, just counting periods of longer than one year, plus I know I have around half a dozen six month stretches. Nonetheless, there is no substitute for continuous sobriety, at least not for me. Things don’t always get wonderful right off the bat, but you give yourself a darn good chance to get the most out of life. We all have learned that the other way is just fighting a losing battle against misery.”