Throwing in the Chips
What is now proved was once only imagined.”
– William Blake
Tuesday was the slowest night of the week, yet the parking lot at my AA home group meeting was overly packed. I was surprised – and overjoyed – to find out that so many people came to celebrate my one-year sobriety anniversary. My friends and I went out to dinner. It was a grand celebration, surely one of the best days of my life.
I fully realized I not only made it through my first year sober, but I was genuinely happy to be sober.
These greatest-friends-ever bought me flowers and cards and lots of praise. I’m feeling grateful, happy and both proud of myself and humbled. I got here by living one day at a time. I started to look back through my last year. Sobriety had seemed an impossible feat to me, and yet, here I am.
I remember when I got my six-month chip. Jonathon asked me to speak at the homeless center. It is a great honor to be asked to speak at a meeting but I was nervous about it. Afterward, Jonathan asked me to lead a weekly meeting there. I didn’t feel ready for that responsibility and I didn’t feel that I had anything yet to offer. But, I said “yes”, anyway. This one little service commitment made a huge difference in my life. I began to feel like a useful, productive person.
Soon after I got my nine-month chip, an unexpected service opportunity presented itself. My friend Diane was with the Big Sisters Organization and she served as a Big Sister to Kathy, a ten-year old girl. I had gone out with the two of them a few times. When Diane moved away, I saw that as an opportunity to serve. I soon became Kathy’s new Big Sister. Being part of something so good made me feel even more grateful. I wouldn’t have made as much progress without this.
In the course of one year, I traveled from deep shame and self-loathing to confidence in sobriety with genuine self-esteem. Now, my scope has widened. I’ll start counting the years. I didn’t know what my Higher Power had planned for me, but I knew it would be something good.
No more quarterly chips for me anymore. From here on out I’ll celebrate with medallions.
Now what? I was ready to get a part time job in recovery. I am actually excited at the prospect and that is a mixed bag of emotions. My previous income was quite large. Now, I’m looking at an hourly wage that puts me just above the poverty level. Still, I’m feeling really good about it. Why, you might ask?
Until recently, I was unemployable and incapable of handling any job. I had to be willing to step outside of my comfort zone and take on more commitments and responsibilities. I was learning to stretch myself, one baby step at a time.
My early sobriety was all about getting sober, structure, meetings, step work with my sponsor and opening up to share and connect with my AA peers. Then I started sponsoring and helping other newcomers, joining in AA social activities and developing closer friendships. With my service commitments, I began to thrive.
I got a part-time tech position at a recovery center. With this, I started to learn more about addiction and recovery at an even deeper level. So, going forward, it’s not just all about Carly anymore. I’ll be sharing more journeys of addiction through the lives of others.
The years teach much which the days never knew.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson