Passageway to my soul
I’m in my 44th year of sobriety now. Grapevine published my story “Homeless Bound” back in November 2008. What has changed since 2008 is really amazing. I’m a grandfather now, remarried to a beautiful woman with whom I’m moving back to New York after an 11-year, semi-retirement sabbatical to sunny southern Florida.
My recovery has been an ongoing introduction to new endeavors, including new friends and new family members, among them my two granddaughters, Lyla and Amelia. I’ve written two books, two screenplays and a documentary based on recovery and addiction. A production of one of my scripts was entered in film festivals.
I’ve also had various medical issues and operations. There have been hospitalizations and many tight calls on health matters. My spiritual life has sustained all those challenges though. My faith and trust in AA meetings, my sponsor and helping others have paved the way in my recovery, along with everything that has come my way, good and bad.
There have been many deaths. My brother—who was a Vietnam veteran and had 23 years sober—began drinking again. He lasted three years. My older sister was lost to serious illness. She was my surrogate mom when I was a kid.
My first and most-devoted sponsor, Jim, died in December of 2020. That was a major blow for me. He had nurtured me back to health in 1977 with tremendous love and dedication. He took me off the streets and rented a room for me to start my new life of sobriety in Queens, New York. Jim taught me how to live. He introduced me to the Steps and to a spiritual life that keeps on giving me strength and joy. Who’d have believed that 44 years later we’d still be the best of friends? God bless his soul on his cosmic journey.
Another of my sponsors, Billy, also passed in 2020. Billy taught me my trade and was a friend for more than 50 years. He put me to work installing aluminum siding on homes in 1970. He taught a trade to this runaway train of a kid and laid the tracks that led me into AA seven years later. We were joined at the hip. His death was a heart-crushing blow as well.
Yes, many deaths have occurred in my years sober. All of them have somehow been a passageway to my heart and soul. All the lives of these loved ones have such great meaning and value for me. It was only through their grace that I have learned to feel and value friendships and family. It was men and women like Billy and Jimmy who put the Big Book, the “Twelve and Twelve,” along with many other brilliant pieces of literature, in my hand. I never read a book until I came into sobriety. And all I did was ask God for some help one day. Imagine that.
What do I do today for my sobriety? I have morning rituals that start at 5:45 A.M., prayer and meditation, then breakfast. Then it’s reading and journaling for 60 to 90 minutes every morning. I attend three to five AA meetings a week and I do daily work with sponsees or with my sponsor. I do a lot of Step work throughout the week with others. And I spend lots of time with my beautiful wife.
We are moving back to New York to be with our loved ones. We are excited about our new journey, and we are grateful for everything we have in life. Monetary things and possessions seem to have the least value now. It’s friends, family and the adventures to come that we value most. If you’re a newcomer, please, keep coming back.
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