Friday, July 08, 2005

Definite Article

Dang, it's been awhile!

Thank you to my friends in blogtopia for your kind comments in my absence. I'm grateful for your support -- I will try to be a more reliable correspondent. If I am to recover, I have to carry the message to you, and allow you to carry the message to me!

What a marvelous message it is! A message of hope, of life, of love! A message that I don't have to be a slave to alcohol, that I don't have to live in this prison of self-will and self-reliance I spent so many years building! A message that there is a purpose to my life, a place for me in this world, and that all I have to do is open my hands and my heart, and accept it!


I can tell you that I've been running a really lousy program of recovery lately. Not enough meetings, not calling my sponsor, retreating into too much isolation -- all the alcoholic behaviors I tend to fall into. Some fear of the future, confusion about what to do next, frustration, resentment and anger.

Fear, confusion, frustration, resentment and anger -- all the signs that I've been spending a lot of time with my wife! :) I have been going to LA every week, and my wife has let me stay with her. Sometimes. She says she wants to work on reconciliation. Sometimes. Other times she says she wants to give up. I never know what she will do or say next; she is unforgiving of all my shortcomings, big or small, real or imagined; her word is her bond until she changes her mind. All in all, business as usual.

I've done my best to be reliable, trustworthy, supportive, open, patient, reasonable and forgiving. I'm far from perfect, and it's not driven by any romantic passion, but I'm making the effort. I remain committed to doing my part to reconcile our marriage and restore our family. I can't say I'm optimistic, but I leave the outcome in God's hands.

As a practical matter, I'm following the advice not to initiate big changes in the first year of sobriety, if I can avoid them. I'm coming up on six months sober, so I'll kick her to the curb in another six months! Seriously, though, a lot of miracles can happen in six months. One day at a time. And a lot of Serenity Prayers.


The greatest blessing in my life, of course, is my son. I am so grateful that I am seeing him regularly and frequently, and have established such a strong and loving bond with him. I'm planning to move to LA in the next couple months so I can be closer and be with him even more. (So much for my one-year rule...)

Fortunately, I've spent enough time in LA to get to know the area and decide I like it -- there's excellent AA, and I've found a church that's great. So, I plan to go to LA, find work, and start getting things going there. If I trusted my wife to stay put in LA, I would have no qualms at all. My fear is that she'll bolt somewhere else. She has told me that she's committed to staying in LA for a few years at least, and she would not move without consulting me. That commitment, along with ten bucks, will get me a cup of coffee in LA...


I said above that a lot of miracles can happen in six months -- I am grateful for the miracles of the past six months. I can scarcely fathom that the days of sobriety have piled up to almost six months. The paradox is that each day I seem to get a little more clarity about myself, with growing recognition of my own flaws and limitations. I see less and less in myself that I can really work with, and more and more how weak, futile and ridiculous have been my efforts to run my own life all these years.

Sobriety is a gift that has been given to me by God, in spite of, not because of, my own efforts. What I do or don't do doesn't make much difference -- and that's not a copout, an easy way to avoid responsibility -- I am responsible for what I do, but I'm at least as likely to screw things up as do things right. God's mercy, grace and kindness are boundless, though, and His divine alchemy transforms the leaden futility of my words and deeds into the pure gold of His purposes.

Does this make any sense? I can't say I really understand it. The less confidence I have in myself, and the less I depend on myself and count on my own efforts resulting in anything worthwhile, the result is that I gain more confidence in the future, that everything is going to be all right, through the grace, mercy, love and power of God.


The twelfth step says that a spiritual awakening is the result of these steps. I've been pondering that definite article -- it's not a result, it's the result. A spiritual awakening is not merely one among a bunch of things that happens -- it's the whole point! I'm so deeply grateful that I'm getting a glimmer of that awakening. I admit that I'm delighted that we claim spiritual progress, not perfection, for a really selfish reason: the joy and hope I've gained are completely out of proportion to the barely discernible progress I've made. I want to keep on making a little bit more progress, and gaining more and more joy, hope and peace, all my life. If I were to reach perfection, it seems to me I would not have the chance to gain more blessings!


At 7/08/2005 11:07:00 PM, Blogger K said...

I just about fell out of my chair when I saw a new post. Thought you'd left us Phil! Glad to see you back though, as you can see by the 29 comments in your last post we all have missed you. Very happy to hear everything is going well and you are still on the path with God in your recovery.

Don't be a stranger. ;)

At 7/09/2005 03:15:00 AM, Blogger recoveryroad said...


Six months is f*cking fantastic!

It's wonderful to see you post again and read your news. I'll restore the link to your place on my blog (I'd thought we'd lost you :( ..... )

Keep on keeping on matey, a day at a time.



At 7/09/2005 03:45:00 AM, Blogger dAAve said...

Wow!! Hey Phil.
Ditto bossco and Kenny.


At 7/09/2005 06:15:00 AM, Blogger Scott W said...

Wow! Just six days until your first year date? Keep it up, it just gets gooder and gooder.

At 7/09/2005 07:07:00 AM, Blogger Trudging said...

Wow Phil it is great to see you back.

At 7/09/2005 11:31:00 AM, Blogger One Drunk to Another said...

I'm new around here in the blogosphere. Keep coming back so I can get to know you too!

At 7/09/2005 02:48:00 PM, Blogger Scott W said...

Sorry, meant that six month mark!

At 7/09/2005 09:52:00 PM, Anonymous particle said...

Congratulations and God bless!

At 7/09/2005 11:23:00 PM, Blogger christopher said...

yeah 6 months is awesome!! its so amazing that one day at a a time really works and the days become months and soon years.

yeah you!

At 7/10/2005 04:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil I just finished reading some of your blog and am truly humbled by your growing honesty. Keep up the good work. I'm adding you to my favorites to keep up with your progress. Queen Noor

At 7/11/2005 10:26:00 AM, Blogger bikipatra said...

Howdy! Thanks for coming by the blog. I am exhausted and irritable. I was able to sleep for 4-5 hours. Not what I had hoped for...oh well. Oh well, no one ever died from lack of sleep. I hope.

At 7/12/2005 07:28:00 AM, Blogger Jane said...

a message of hope. i like it.
thanks phil!


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