Friday, December 29, 2006

Routine Mendacity

Have you ever told a lie so routinely, so continuously, for so long that you didn't even recognize the lie any more? No? Liar.

In the spirit of rigorous honesty, I have reset the little cigarette recovery timer in the upper right corner to zero.

No, it's not my only routine and continuous lie.

No, I'm not going to tell you about the rest of them. Unless you want to be my sponsor. And if you want to be my sponsor: no, I will not wash your car, give you rides, or lend you money.

I feel much better now. Thanks for letting me share.

Time for a smoke break.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Don't Be Afraid

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's -- not easy days for this alcoholic. 'Tis the season for resentment, regret, self-pity, anxiety. And fear. Lots of fear. 'Tis the season for relapse.

Two years ago this week, between Christmas and New Year, I started my last relapse. Today, two of my best friends from sober living, both junkies, are barely hanging on, skittering toward homelessness and jail since they started getting loaded again after Thanksgiving. Scary stuff.

My son went with his mom out of town for Christmas, so I was by myself. Alone, broke, seeing the decorated houses and the ads on TV that demonstrate clearly that everyone else in the world is spending a joyful Christmas with extended family and giving each other expensive gifts. Me, I had wrapped up desperately needed new clothes for my son as his gifts, along with some cheap toys and books. This is not a Norman Rockwell painting. My material and family circumstances are no better, even worse in some ways, than last year and the year before.

And yet...

It felt different this year. Something really has changed. Slowly, inch by inch, recognizable only at mileposts like this and looking back a year or two, something has changed. Every day is a good day. Some days I have a bad attitude -- resentful, regretful, self-pitying, fearful. At some point in the last couple years, I've come to accept that the problem is not with the world, not even something wrong with me, but with what I think and feel about the world and myself.

One tangible difference this year is that I went to church on Christmas Eve. Going to church is part of my routine now, and there is nothing more natural than spending part of Christmas with my friends I worship with.

What I came away from the service with was what the angel said to the shepherds: “Don’t be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy." My fear melted away, my resentments and self-pity turned to gratitude. For Christians and non-Christians alike, there is no question that the message of Alcoholics Anonymous is good news of great joy. When we hear this good news, we can be, just for today, joyful and hopeful, without fear. I don't have to relapse today. I can let my thoughts and feelings get out of the way, and accept that today is a good day.