I started my recovery journey on January 16, 1986. It was the first celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. A man who had a dream was my inspiration to find my own dreams. I quickly found hope and excitement with this new life of mine. Yet, five and a half years later my dream was a nightmare. The only relief I could find was in a bottle. I was not ready for a life without alcohol.
What I thought was a nightmare right before I started drinking again, was actually just a mild bad dream. The true nightmare came two years later, when I was totally defeated and once again ready to try a life of sobriety.
The main difference with this sobriety compared to my first attempt, was two simple things. The 12 Steps and a Higher Power. My first attempt at this new way of life, I tried to do it my way. I did go to AA, but I never did the 12 Steps nor did I want anything to do with a Higher Power. Though when I started this second attempt, which has lasted well over 18 years, I still wanted nothing to do with a Higher Power.
I had no use for a power greater then myself. It wasn't that I knew better then anyone else, nor that I could manage my own affairs. I wanted nothing to do with a power that was never there for me in the past. Some folks said to me that He was always there but I denied His presence. That is far from the truth.
Growing up I went to a Catholic grade school. My whole family would walk to church every Sunday. I learned about God. Not a God of love but rather a God of fear. I believed that fear for many years and believed what happen to me as a child happened because I had somehow hurt my God and was feeling His wrath.
But why was I subjected to that wrath? Was I so bad as a six year old that I had to watch my mother be beaten by my father? Was I so bad that I was subjected to wake up in the middle of the night to hear her screams from the punishes I also heard? I must have been extremely a horrible kid to be urinated on by my father.
This was the God I thought I needed to be in my life if I wanted to be sober. And if that was the case then I would rather die drunk... just as my mother did. And die alone... just as my father did.
I bring this up now for a couple of reasons. First, it was finding a Higher Power of my understanding that has kept me sober and that Power has nothing to do with an organized religion. Second, the journey I took to find this Power will be the subject for my fourth book, tentatively entitled Sailing Upstream.
It's not a religious book or me preaching. It just my sharing about finding a Higher Power I could Love and respect. Did you notice I spelled Love with a capital L? That is because my Higher Power's name is Love...