As with any journey, the destination is not always what we imagined it should be and quickly we discover that there are bends, turns, and detours to negotiate. Such is the quest for sanity and serenity in sobriety. When I had accomplished what seemed impossible, one year of continuous sobriety, I thought, “Aha, this is it, I have arrived.”
Yes, in a way, I did arrive. But, I soon realized I had just touched the surface of what sober living entailed. Thirty-six years later, I have yet to arrive. The drinking is no longer the problem. It’s actually easy now. Don’t drink and I won’t get drunk; one is too many and ten is not enough; I won’t drink even if my ass falls off. No, it’s not the alcohol anymore, it’s me and all the baggage stowed away in my head which continues to need an inventory and cleaning. I suppose all of us are like that and the main difference is that we recovering alcoholics are fortunate enough to have a program geared specifically for us in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Perhaps the most difficult clean-out of the brain is releasing the religious indoctrination of our early years. Today, as an old man approaching the septuagenarian decade of life, I no longer judge harshly the experiences of a childhood overwhelmed with a theology of condemnation and hell-fire although those experiences were definite contributors to my addiction. I don’t harbor anger and resentment over injustices done in the name of a vengeful God.
But, I also do not forget. The quest I am on leads into new and exciting ventures in the realms of spirituality, it leads into exploration of varying faith communities, it leads into appreciation for the ancient religions established long before the advent of Christianity. And I do this comfortably because my mainstays are love, compassion, peace, and nonviolence. If, in the scriptures and writings which I encounter, those four companions of universal Oneness and solidarity don’t jump off the page and fill my brain with a sense of completeness, then I must move on. I trust that inner spirit today. Where it leads, I will follow.
And so, I try to walk the path of Buddha, worship corporately with Lutherans, and fellowship with sober people. It’s a fine mix of all the best things in life when I maintain priorities and always remember that my name is Larry and I am an alcoholic.