What if running was taken away from us? Could we still live purposefully, find peace within ourselves, and give of ourselves unselfishly? These questions have been dogging me increasingly in sobriety. I look at many long distance runners that come from a background of addiction and see them staying sober and chasing miles and wonder what would happen if running was taken away from them through accident or disease? What if it was taken from me? What would keep me sober and would there still be peace and serenity in my sobriety?
One: As a member of an AA home group, I have fellow alcoholics who can relate to my past but also my present. They understand the obsession to drink that I had and they also understand and can empathize with the character traits that drove me to drink long before I ever picked up a drink. We collectively get to look at those character traits and we get to discuss them – we get to see our fellow alcoholics recover from the obsession for alcohol and we also get to see them recover from the devastating personality defects that have plagued us for so long. Though we may never fully triumph over our character defects, we at least get to expose them, accept them and try to work on them with help of our Higher Power. We get to witness each other rise above our defects to be valuable members in our families and society.
Two: I have the unique ability and responsibility to help other alcoholics recover. Our Big Book says that we “can help when no one else can” and that “because of your own drinking experience you can be uniquely useful to other alcoholics” (89). We get to witness people brought back from the dead and we can play a small part in their recovery by sharing how we recovered, using The Steps. On the topic of working with others and finding joy in it, our Big Book goes on to say that “life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends – this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives” (89).
Three: I have a Higher Power in my life now that I reach out to daily for help and I make no apologies to those who may not have that…yet. It wasn’t so long ago that I was in the same boat. I’m certainly no better than anyone because of the fact, but I believe I am better off because of it. I am no longer in charge and I try to do right because I want to be true to my Higher Power, to honor it, for saving me when I didn’t deserve it. Living this way is so much easier because I no longer have to fight for my place in the world – all I really have to do is be a servant in the world and this seems to bring the joy that I always searched for in alcohol and drugs.
So should you be out there running miles upon miles in fear of the taking the next drink or drug, let us in AA say “welcome.” I remember well what it was like to depend on running to keep me sober. I had the foreboding feeling that if it was to come to an end because of injury or sickness, I would have no choice but to drink to fill the gaping hole. It is different now though – running is something I do that compliments my sobriety. I enjoy it and am not afraid to push its limits anymore because at the end of the day now, I have a Fellowship, a sponsor, a “design for living” and a loving God that helps me get out the door for runs, yes, but also out the door to serve others and find lasting joy in it.
AA Grapevine “At Wit’s End” Joke of the Week
Newcomer to his sponsor: I think I’ve been rocketed into the fourth dimension
Sponsor: No, you’ve just drank too much coffee