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September 1994

Give Us This Day. . .

A little over a year ago, my life changed in what seemed like a heartbeat. I was on the job installing a piece of equipment when I got up--or tried to--and realized I'd severely injured my back. I haven't worked since that day.

Acceptance of this injury has been difficult. On some days there's no acceptance at all. The fact is I'm not getting my own way. I want to heal now and I want to go back to work now.

For most of my life, I've dealt with machines and equipment; I was only exposed to family and friends a few hours a day. At twenty years sober, I've had to learn to live with people all day long, and really apply the Steps. It hasn't been easy.

A few months into this battle with myself, I was elected to a service position in AA that in itself is a full-time job. With a lot of meetings and my service to AA, I get some days of relief--when I do feel of value to myself and others. Other days, sometimes for a week at a time, there is depression, and thoughts of suicide come and go.

At the root of my problem is the fact that I was brought up to equate being a man with being the breadwinner--the provider for my family and others. I've spent my whole life priding myself that I've always been able to take care of my family, no matter what happened.

We all know that Bill W. suffered from severe depression, yet we rarely share with each other that it happens to us too. I was afraid others would think I was being self-pitying if I brought this up at meetings. But I'm well aware that those closest to me--my wife and my service sponsor--have paid a price for my behavior and attitude. (They never stopped believing in me, however. Miraculously, my wife and I recently celebrated thirty-one years of marriage.)

One of my sponsees has helped me see another point of view. He told me that he does see me as a provider. For starters, I provide him with a sponsor. And I provide my wife with a husband, my sons with a father, my grandchildren with a grandfather. I provide many others with a friend.

Hanging on and not giving up is still a struggle, but for today, I can again see the promises coming to life in my life. Thanks to AA and my God, I have all of you. And I'm slowly accepting that there are many things I can do with my life. For today, I just can't work.

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