They say you shouldn’t leave Alcoholics Anonymous ‘until the miracle has happened’. Well, I doubt I’ve been in sobriety long enough for my miracle to have happened already, but I get the feeling it’s in the process of beginning. Tonight I went to the meeting in south London, where most of the regulars have over eight years of sobriety and the chair always focuses on issues of later sobriety. As always I heard a lot of relevant and inspirational stuff. A theme that went through a lot of the sharing was ‘creativity’: someone said that in later sobriety they had discovered that deep down they wanted to be a musician. It was encouraging to hear him talk about the process he’d gone through, after 25 years of recovery, to turn a part-time much-loved hobby into a proper job. It was all about finding his inner truth and being true to it. That’s the kind of thing I love hearing about.
I have this creative dream, where I spend my life writing stories. At the moment I have no idea how I could go about making that dream a reality. Part of me doesn’t really think it’s possible, even in the distant future. But I think that guy’s sharing tonight reminded me of my dream, that I needn’t let go of it. I have after all written a whole novel in sobriety – it might not be any good, but it’s more than I ever wrote in my life before. I don’t know how people go about getting books published and so on. After I’ve graduated, I suppose I’ll have plenty of time to find out.
That would be one of the miracles of my sobriety, were it to actually happen. I have a small number of dreams for the future, not massively unrealistic to most people, but if they all end up coming true for me, I’ll be astonished. For years I’ve dreamed of having a cat. I don’t know why, I just adore the creatures, and in my heart I want to take care of one, to nurture and look after as one as my own. I’ve never wanted children but I’ve always craved a pet. I’ve had a lot of friends with cats in my time, and I genuinely think I’d be able to live with one! Unfortunately, cats cost money and it’s just not possible to have one while I live here with my mother supporting me. Even if I was financially independent, it wouldn’t be the ideal surroundings for an animal, here in the centre of London on a very busy main road. I’d never feel secure letting it out. So, to have a cat, I’d first have to be financially independent, then be in possession of my own place, somewhere far away. A lot rides on the dream, then!
Someone else tonight shared about waiting, that thing we all hate most about recovery. Sadly, we have to wait for pretty much everything we really want in life. Some things take days, some take years. Sounds obvious, I know, but in recovery you really learn the significance of it. Learning to wait for things is one of sobriety’s toughest lessons; accepting that we have to learn it is even harder. I’ll probably have to wait decades for my cat. Becoming a more confident, stronger sober person might not take so long, but quite often, even next week seems like such a long time off. Everything seems so distant, unreachable. In two days from now, I’ll be eight months sober. Eight months ago, that would have been an impossible dream to me, but now, it doesn’t seem quite so amazing. Ironic, huh! I want to be nine months sober right now. Next month when I get to that stage, I’ll want to be ten months. And so on, and so on. Reaching a year seems surreal and dreamy; part of me can’t even believe that it will happen. Yet, when I get to my first sober anniversary on the 15th July, I imagine my mind will probably already be on the next anniversary.
All the old timers at the meeting tonight knew each other, they’ve all sat next to each other in that room every week for years; they know each other inside out, and they’ve probably been to each others’ houses a million times over the years. That’s the kind of fellowship I dream about. Of course I have wonderful friends in sobriety, but I haven’t been to any of their homes yet; moreover, I haven’t known any of them for years. They’ve only been my friends for eight months or less. I feel silly saying it now – I must sound so ungrateful – but I’m trying to make a positive point. If I can continue going to the same meetings for the next umpteen years, seeing the same faces every week, then one day I’ll be exactly like one of those old timers at the after eight group. I’ll be able to walk into those rooms, know everybody and feel instantly at home. I feel at home in certain meetings already, though I’d quite like to feel that way more often.
That’s why I keep going back to meetings – I really want to be like those people. Surely that’s what the program is all about, surely I’ve got it. How lucky am I to realise that? When I am one of those old timers, with my cat and my published novel and my own place somewhere in England, my miracle will have happened, and I intend to stick around until it has.