You Remind Me

It’s evening and I’m tired. I’m 4 years sober. And I’ve just had yet another long and painful flashback to what my life was like before I stopped drinking. What happened? I took someone else’s 5th step. That’s what happened. It wasn’t the first – and I certainly hope that it won’t be the last.

I’m baffled by the way in which I have so many things in common with the sponsees I’ve had so far. The first time it was surprising, the second time a bit puzzling and this time just baffling.

I was reminded of what it was like to be the child of alcoholic parents. How I was left to figure out for myself how the world worked and how to relate to other people. Only to find out at the age of 34, that all the qualified guessing this academic had been doing all this time was no good and that the only coping mechanism I had (demanding perfectionism of myself and everybody else) was of no use.

I was reminded of how I spent ten years in a relationship with a man I didn’t love, thinking I couldn’t find better. Only to find out that he thought he could find better and realised that he could. I was bitter, angry, extremely negative and never gave him a chance to love me.

I was reminded that I spent 15 years proving my worth to employers, thinking that if I did well, everything would be ok. That they’d all eventually see I was right and make me the manager. Only to find out that managers don’t like to be told by their staff that they’re wrong. I either got fired or ended up quitting.

I was reminded how my entire life, I’ve longed for other people to save me, help me. Only to find out in my own 4th and 5th steps that I actually refused to let anyone help me.

I was reminded of how hopeless I felt when I entered the rooms, how lonely and miserable. And how I didn’t want to have to be here and therefore continued doing it my way. Only to find myself broken one day. Broken enough to let you love me and tell me what had happened to you.

You went to meetings, followed suggestions, got a sponsor who worked the 12 steps with you, and found peace and serenity through prayer and meditation. Only to lose it again for a little while. Until the pain got to be too much and you started working the parts of the program that you had cut back on, got honest about how you were feeling and let the rooms help you as they had before. And you started helping newcomers.

Oh, wait. That’s what happened to me.

Although it wasn’t so much that I started helping newcomers as it was that the newcomers started asking me for help. And I’m glad they did. Their stories remind me of what it was like. And I’d like to think that their trust in me as a sponsor or a fellow is testimony as to what it is like for me today.

So my Higher Power willing, and if I’m diligent in working my programme and the 12 steps, it won’t be the last time I get an opportunity to take a 5th step and be reminded of all this.

That’s How It Works.

Tina, Brussels