My buddy Mitch (different Mitch) has lot to say about this journey of sobriety. In meetings and around the poker table, he frequently espouses on how me and the other guys in my group are really just a bunch of middle-aged guys trying to figure out how to grow up. At the meeting I chair, he’ll frequently preface what he says with “It’s a good topic, Andy,” before he starts explaining what he got out of it. Although, he does say that every time I introduce a topic, much the same way that after anybody tells you how long they have been sober, whether it’s five days, five months or five years, you are kind of obligated to say “That’s a long time.” But here’s the thing: with alcoholics and addicts, any amount of time spent sober is a long time, relative to how you live that time. I mean, I remember after I achieved one year sober, my friend Mitch (no, not that Mitch, the other Mitch) said “Congratulations. Now the real work begins.” Then he said the same thing a couple months later when somebody announced they had three years sober. “Now the real work begins.” Really, it’s all just an elaborate code for the intricacies and pit falls only alcoholics and addicts relate to. Anyway, back to Mitch.
He’s the same Mitch that said the thing I quote very often about “how long did it take you to throw your life away? It’s gonna take that long …” But the things about growing up he couldn’t have been more right about. And I didn’t really know that what that meant, what everybody in my life wants from me, is to stop dwelling on the things I did that led up to the fall and, as Morgan Freeman put it, get busy living. I’ll give you an example.
This last weekend, I gave my father a card for Father’s Day. It had all the requirements of a holiday card from me: It was quippy, heartfelt and it had a dog theme. This one was no different. And I bracketed a section of the card that enunciated my remorse for past wrongs as his son. And you know what he did? Just shrugged it off. I mean, he appreciated the card, but I could tell in his demeanor that he had grown tired of my trying to say, in cards and actions and good deeds, how sorry I was for everything I had done to him and my Mom. Which is a lot.
Put another way, I recently tallied all the people that I had screwed over in my addictions, multiplied that number by the amount of substances I was imbibing over the years, divided that number by the square root of the side effects of my addiction, (lethargy, indifference, being an all-around jerkweed) and took that number to the Nth power and realized … it doesn’t matter. Not one bit.
See, if I am serious about sobriety, and I most certainly am, then the time has come for me to stop with the first stage of my penance (guilt over past wrong-doing) and graduate to the next level, taking all that I have learned in these first stages and putting them into practice. I mean, I believe those close to me are elated that I have seen the errors of my ways and am making good on them. But they kind of want me to shut up about it already. Proof is in the pudding and all that. Same thing with my job. I recently sent Thank-you notes to the pertinent people about my gratitude for them taking me back at the Human Society. But that’s kind of where it ended. And that’s where it should end. I’ve entered the longer, more tedious stage of sobriety, the “Show me the Money” stage. I think those I love and care about are happy that I seem sincere about this new phase of my life.
Now they just want me to man up and start living the sincerity.
Fair enough. I can do that.