If there’s anything to be learned in sobriety and ultrarunning, it’s this: expect the unexpected. I’m sure if you look to your own experience in both realms so far, you might readily agree.
As for sobriety, I never expected the sponsor I got, though I earnestly prayed for help before I walked through the doors of that little village church on a warm Tuesday evening in May of 2015. My sponsor is 83 years old, 37 years sober, and a tile setter by trade – how could he possibly be the one to help me through the Big Book and The Steps? And over the course of my sobriety, I’ve come know that he is precisely the one I needed and that despite our surface differences, we are “brothers of the bottle” to our very core.
I also never imagined at first that I would “fit into” Alcoholics Anonymous – I mean, I was always the square peg in a round hole, how about you? But now I find that “host of friends” they talk about in The Big Book and they really are “the bright spot in my life today” as it describes (Alcoholics Anonymous, 89). Who would have thought?, not me…I was terrified and shaking from the inside out during those first few months and I was sure that nobody would want anything to do with me or me with them – boy, was I wrong!
And this whole business of doing a podcast was really out of left field – it pretty much fell into my lap like an autumn leaf on the breeze – there was some work involved sure, but given my very limited technical skill and gift for gab, it was certainly the last thing I would have imagined to help keep me sober. So on a weekly basis, I set up a really simple podcasting network that someone developed for me and pretty much stumble and bumble my way through some questions and observations – thank goodness my guests are so gracious and have such great stories – it makes my job so much easier! (And yet I still can fuck it up really badly I know). And now I have a “host of friends” who are sober ultrarunners scattered across the US and Canada whom I genuinely care about and I enjoy following their endeavors both in running and sobriety….what?! Not to mention one of them in particular who has changed me forevermore and I will always be in debt and gratitude for that.
How about being of service to others and practicing the “kind of giving that actually demands nothing?” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, 106). ‘Not me, not this selfish, self-centered alcoholic, no thanks,’ would have been my attitude before. (And sometimes still is if I’m honest!). But to show up at District and be a responsible GSR, to be a contributing and helpful member of my home group, and to sponsor and take and return calls when it is inconvenient at best – I couldn’t have dreamed up these foreign concepts in my drinking days.
As for running, I will say only this: I started the first six months of sobriety with an injury and could not run – it was hard emotionally and it was humbling in a time that was incredibly difficult at best. Since then, I’ve experienced some never imagined successes alongside unexpected injury and unforeseen barriers that I didn’t plan for or anticipate. The bottom line is this: I have never enjoyed my running so much and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next, both physically and spiritually. I also know now that there are many, many others out there “trudging” along a similar road – staying sober, trying to give it away to keep it, and being grateful for each step forward in running and sobriety – such a gift! And so I’ve come to expect the unexpected….may we meet on the trails or in the rooms someday my “brothers and sisters of the bottle”…and may God keep you and bless you – until then.