11 October 2009

I Can't Be A Ninety-Day Wonder

Today is ninety days.

If you've been reading this blog, you might be thinking, "No, that was last week." Yes, last Monday came ninety days after my surgery.. (Wednesday marked three months, if you count that way.)

But today was the ninetieth day of my sobriety. At least it was twenty-three years ago.

If you've ever been involved with any of the twelve-step programs, you recall that the program leaders always recommended that you attend ninety meetings in ninety days. I know I exceeded that: On one Saturday alone, I attended five meetings! In this city, there's a twelve-step meeting available at literally every hour of the day or night.

Ninety days is often considered, if not the first, then one of the first milestones in sobriety. Most people who make it through ninety days make it through a year. And most who make it through a year make it through two. And so on.

As I recall, for me, there was no question of not "making it." I simply didn't know what else I could do. Even though I'd tried to become clean and sober twice before, somehow I couldn't see not sticking with "the program" that third time. Although I couldn't see any reason why, I knew somehow that I had to survive. I didn't--and still don't--believe in a supreme being in the sense that most organized religions represent him. (Yes, most do represent him as male.) And Kevin, whom I would ask to be my first sponsor (and who would accept that sometimes-thankless task) advised me to stay away from religion but to believe in something greater than myself. He agreed that AA's description of "Higher Power" sounded suspiciously like the Judeo-Christian God, but said, "There's really nothing wrong with believing in it. Just don't listen to anyone who tries to tell you what it is."

For a guy who "never saw anything beyond Fordham Road before they shipped me off to 'Nam" and who, before becoming sober eight years before I met him, "saw guys die in the jungle, then in my uncle's bar," he could give most philosophers a run for their laurels!

The funny thing is that he understood me in a way that no man besides Bruce ever had up to that point in my life: He knew that I have always been very, very emotionally vulnerable, almost to the point of brittleness and fragility at times. But he, like Bruce, also knew that it was the key to any sort of spiritual growth I needed to make--including sobriety. And that, he later told me, is how he knew I would "make it": "Your soul was crying out for it. And you finally admitted that you had a soul, so you couldn't do anything but listen and care for it."

This, from a guy who came to meetings clad in black leather and on his motorcycle.

"I just knew you were no ninety-day wonder," he said.

From a guy whose best buddy got blown to bits just feet away from him--in fact, from any soldier--that's a rave. Somehow I think he also knew what I knew then: I had no choice; I couldn't have been a ninety-day wonder even if I'd wanted to be one.

Such is my situation now. Good thing I knew that before I started my transition. I mean, things have gone well and having the operation had given me what I'd hoped to have, in a spiritual as well as in a physical sense. But I knew--even before that day I met Jay and told her what seemed, at least to me, the first true thing I'd ever told anyone about myself-- that I was a "lifer;" that not only could I not turn back even if I'd wanted to, the thought of doing so wouldn't and couldn't present itself to me.

There was simply no way I could be a ninety-day wonder. And there still isn't.


Gunnar Berg said...

I think God was originally male, but had issues that had to be dealt with. She's better now.

Half my family has fought chemical addiction of various types. It's hard. I want to wish you good luck, but I don't believe in luck. Be strong.

EdMcGon said...

I agree Gunnar. Luck is merely the residue of skill. ;)