If you are sinking in quicksand and somebody throws you a rope, and you say “no thanks I don’t want that rope,” are you making a big mistake? That’s what was said to me as I left Brighton Hospital after my first 10 days of detoxed sobriety. I wasn’t sure I wanted Alcoholics Anonymous and I was afraid that it might not work for me. But it was told to me that the people at the Washtenaw Alano Club can throw you a rope. I decided to stop there on my way home from Brighton Hospital for the noon Spiritual Fitness Meeting. What I saw there was evidence that it had worked for people like me. And those people were sincere in wanting me to have what they had. They made it clear to me, that yes, they can throw me a rope but they can’t pull me out. It is not going to happen instantly and I am going to have to do some work. Several men at that meeting looked at me as if they could read my mind and knew what I was experiencing. They said, “Just don’t drink and come back tomorrow. It’s that simple for right now.” I remember thinking, that’s not so hard, I can do that. “OK, I’ll be here tomorrow and I will be sober” is what I said with determination.
Eleven days sober and I’m back to the Club. The same guys ask how I am doing. They seemed to understand when I said I was having difficulty sleeping. I was told the reading the Big Book at 3 am would help me fall asleep. They suggested that I ask for someone to be my sponsor. So I did. A gentleman came up to me afterwards who told me he had 42 years of sobriety and was willing to be my sponsor. He told me to call him at 5:00 PM that day. I agreed and gave him a call that afternoon. But while I was dialing his number my phone rang and it was him asking me was I going to call him at 5:00 PM. So it was clear to me this guy had high expectations for me and I needed to pay attention to the details and not be even a minute late.
That all happened nearly 13 years ago. My downward spiraling life turned into an upward spiral. Many of the same guys that sat around that first table are still here. We feel like brothers. They know my life story better than my own biological brother.
Does that have something to do with why I have nearly 13 years of sobriety without a relapse? Because I found a place in this Club where I could connect to people who also wanted my suffering to end?
The Club was and is an easy place for me to come for what I see now as my spiritual growth and development. I don’t wonder much about why I was one of the few who has been saved from the suffering. There seems to be a clear answer for me. We’re read it at every AA meeting at the Club. “So our experience can benefit others.” Not only was I saved but a really great life has been given to me. I can never repay that. But I can be of service to others and pay it forward. My problem became a gift. A gift that I want and get to keep by giving it to others.
A couple of years ago, the Club’s management wanted to take a different direction and not have the membership be important in determining how the Club operates. I found myself involved in the effort to return our club to the membership. I often asked myself, “Why am I getting so involved. “The answer I always got was “because you can and you are needed”. I look around this club at the people here today, our volunteering membership, a board of directors that wants to serve the membership, and I think that this was another problem that turned into a gift. Today, we have so many people who get involved because we share the same vision for our Club. We see a place where people help each other get free from the suffering of alcoholism or addiction because “we can help and we are needed. If you are sinking in quicksand we can throw you a rope”. At our Club, if you grab a hold, we will pull together.
Thank you Tom, for your continued service to the Club!
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