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Sober Routines

Her sponsor had some suggestions for how to deal with challenging times in sobriety

This road on Emotional Sobriety has been a tough, but enduring road—as long as I persevere and continue on the path, not my path.

I had my first learning experience after the desire to drink left me: I was 2 1⁄2 years sober and some situations had arisen in my life that I was not aware of. My son was being harmed, and when I awoke from this heavy fog, I can tell you it was all but peaceful and very emotional to stay on the beam. That was in May 1999. I resorted back to my old self; based on fear and anger, I slowly but surely in my mind went back to my old thinking. I slowly but surely was plotting and took back my will. I slowly but surely started planning a scheme, and it was not how to be happy, joyous and free.

I am so thankful to AA and my sponsor. In the beginning she taught me to learn a sober routine, and it honestly saved my life. I went to my meetings, and my home group knew, and we grieved together. My sponsor knew I wasn’t praying because I couldn’t. I was so angry and told her so because of my sober routine. She had pointed out trying to pray is praying. So she suggested I go to Founders Day in Akron, Ohio, to hear God and experience pure joy from others who were sober. I was amazed at the history. I finally surrendered completely and it saved my life, physically and emotionally. I had never been to Akron. This was my first experience that feelings aren’t facts and that it is a process for me. Things worked out for the best for my son, all thanks to God and AA as usual. I just have to get out of the way—and sometimes physically.

That year after returning home, I got to learn acceptance on a deeper level than I ever will. I had emergency surgery, and five weeks later, gangs set my home on fire while I was sleeping. Boy, was it tough to get spiritual then. But a gratitude list as part of my sober routine probably saved me from a drink. I remember thinking as I was watching the firemen put out the fire: I’m thankful that I am sober and was able to be awakened to get out. I have learned that a grateful drunk is less likely to drink than a dry drunk.

Since that time I have experienced great joy from that deep emotional breakdown. I am currently married and sober in Akron. What a gift. I met a man while I was there. We built a friendship and married three years later—all through the grace of God.

So now I am 14 years sober through the grace of God and AA, and I’m in love with the Language of the Heart. It is funny—life was going along, and about a year ago some things were changing in my life again, and this time I had the tools. And the hammer is not a tool.

I used the slogans a lot: Live and Let Live, Easy Does It—But Do It, and most of all, Principles Before Personalities. When I get hurt or something comes up I instantly go into injured mode, not physically—emotionally. The old Cindy returns, but this time it is not comfortable to be in that skin. I cannot wear that sick mask any more. And that is a tough spot to be in.

I have a strong sober routine due to service work, which also helped me. Service is the secret for me. But something cool happened in the mist of chaos. I was at a Twelfth Step retreat in Vermillion, Ohio and of course, I was presenting the Twelfth Step. I was definitely struggling with personalities, and I am not one to preach. I walk the walk no matter how hard it is because I don’t want to be insane or drunk. And I didn’t want to be self-serving in my presentation, so I was praying a lot.

So this guy, Mike, who I really didn’t know, comes up and says, “Hey I thought of you when I heard this tape,” and I said, “Really, how nice, thanks.” I go up to my room late Friday night after pizza and open it up. The tape says, Tom B. Emotional Sobriety and there is a little piece of paper in it that states:

"Emotional Sobriety. If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand. Let us, with God’s help, continually surrender these hobbling liabilities. Then we can be free to live and love; we may then be able to Twelfth Step Ourselves as well as others, into emotional sobriety. – Bill W., January 1958 Grapevine."

Now, up until that point in my life I had never heard of Language of the Heart. Immediately I started crying in my room and told my roommate. The next night, another guy who I love, Andy, comes up to me and says, “Hey I got this tape for you. I think, no way. Again the same tape, the same little piece of paper. I went home and found a cassette player and it knocked my boots off. I am not crazy. I have dependencies on people and things still after all this time and continue to practice the principles.

I can tell you since then I am into this Language of the Heart, and with that inspiration I have changed a little and the layers are still peeling off. It is so great to know I don’t have it all together but together we have it all.

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