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March 1976

I Got Sober for Others

But then the AA program taught me that I was a person too

I HAVE TO admit there were times in my first year of sobriety that I stayed away from that first drink, not for myself, but for the sake of my children. My guilt, remorse, and pity for them--they were so little, only seven and eight--gave me strong motivation to stay sober. They had already suffered enough. Their father, from whom I was separated, was still drinking, and I was the only anchor they had.

When AA members advised me to do it for myself, I didn't quite know what they meant. How could I do it for myself when I didn't have much of a self to speak of, or at least had one that was still resentful, confused, and self-pitying?

But miraculously, gradually, I felt a person, a good self, sneaking back into me almost against the wishes of that negative self I had become. With the remarkable help and love that our Fellowship provides, I began to get well and to feel a bit more self-confident. Perhaps I wasn't such a washout after all. I bought some new clothes, began to take an Interest in my appearance again, registered for a university course, fixed up the house, and began to like myself just a little. The ancient me that had been submerged for ten years under an ocean of beer, wine, and pills began to surface.

I was amazed. I began to see what those members had meant. If I had a happy and confident self, I could do it, not for my old self, but for my new self. It wasn't selfishness or self-centeredness to nurture my own growth; it was clear AA thinking and feeling. Finally, my sobriety was my own, and today I know that the only way to do it is for myself.

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