We arrive at the Lake Murray Men’s Conference with only one mishap.
My sponsor received a speeding ticket.
Most people in sobriety would not badger their sponsor about something like this.
I am not most people in sobriety……besides I was in the back seat. What was he gonna do threaten to pull the car over and spank me.
I decided he needed a lecture on the importance of obeying the laws of the road.
“Excuse me, sponsor?” I ask
He looks in the rear view mirror with squinted eyes and replies,
“Do I need to remind you that having 26 years of sobriety does not give you the right to ignore the posted laws of the land? I would suggest that you be more mindful of your lead foot. The conference will still be there even if we get there 10 minutes later. I think you need to do some writing on patience.” I say with a smile and a smirk.
I notice the temperature in the vehicle got a bit chilly….or maybe it was just the icy stare I received from the rear view mirror before his reply.
“I suggest that you realize that regardless of my years in sobriety that I am not nor will I ever be perfect. Mistakes in judgement still occur with 26 years of sobriety…..smart ass.”
“Touché, Mr. Miagi….touché.”
We get registered, check into our cabin and head out to meet and greet the other attendees of the conference.
I’ve been here before.
The Frantic Man hasn’t.
He needs a little encouragement.
As we walk to where the fellowship is happening I fill him in on what to expect.
“Ok…Frantic, I know this is way out of your element. Everyone here is here to aid in their….and your recovery from alcoholism. All you have to do is introduce yourself to people. The rest will happen on its own. You cool with that?”
He stops walking and rubs his forehead, and replies,
“I…I…I’m not g..g..good with people. Nervous…just nervous.”
I pat him on the back and say,
“Relax, Rain Man. No one here is good with people. But if we want to change….we have to alter our normal reactions to life. No more hiding behind the bottle. It’s time to stand on your own. I will introduce you to a few people who you will relate to. Then you take it from there.”
He inhales deeply exhaled nervously then nods his head in approval.
We return to the cabin at 11:30 pm. We heard a great speaker who has been sober for 32 years and then went out for ice cream.
The Frantic Man had a different look about him.
“You ok, Frantic?”
“I jjjust have a lot to ppprocess after today. I met some gggood people and am thththinking about tomorrow.”
“Okie dokie. Get some sleep, bud.”
I retire to my bunk and almost immediately fall into a deep sleep.
My alarm awakes me at 6:30am. I get up and head out to grab some coffee and try not to wake anyone else up.
The sun is starting to filter through the windows, shedding light into the cabin.
The space where the Frantic Man went to sleep is empty.
I sip on my coffee and think about the day ahead.
Wait a minute…….
WHERE’S THE FRANTIC MAN?
I wake everyone up and tell them he is gone. Apparently I am the only one concerned.
My sponsor, in his infinite wisdom, says,
“Relax. He is the Frantic Man…,.not the I’m gonna get up in the middle of the night and walk back to Texas man. He just got up and went out. We will find him soon enough.”
So much for peace and serenity….I convince a guy to leave home for a few days and I lose him. What was I thinking?
The rest of my day is spent searching for the lost boy. I can’t focus. I can’t relax.
I walk around and ask the people I introduced him to the day before if they have seen him.
“Have you seen the Frantic Man?”
“Yeah, he was her about an hour ago. He walked off with the guys from cabin 12.”
Off to cabin 12
“Have you seen the Frantic Man?”
“He was here, but he’s not anymore.”
“Have you seen the Frantic Man?”
“Uggghhhh…never mind.” I said frantically and moved on.
I was a wreck. What was I going to tell his Mother?….I don’t even know his Mother….I had no one to tell.
I couldn’t find him. I hate to say it but I gave up….and I’m not a giver upper.
The 8 pm speaker meeting was about to start. I slumped into my chair next to my sponsor.
He asks with a smirk, “Did you find him?”
I answered with a pout, “No”
He pats me on the shoulder and replies,
“He will turn up…..probably when you least expect it.”
I cross my arms and slump into the metal chair and say,
The meeting is opened up as usual with the serenity prayer. One of my buddies is chairing the meeting and he begins to talk,
“We are going to do something a little different tonight. We have a gentleman here who is at his first conference….ever. He has a whopping 2 months of sobriety. And we are going to have him read one of our readings.”
That peaked my interest. I look up from my pouty stance and to my surprise the Frantic Man is on stage behind the podium.
He steps up and begins to talk.
“Mmmmmy nnnnname is the Fffffffrantic Mmmman and I’m an alcccoholic.”
He pauses and steps back. He looks at the chairman and whispers to him.
The chairman looks at him with caring eyes and says,
“You can do this.”
He returns to the podium and hears
HI FRANTIC MAN
from the crowd along with cheers of encouragement.
He breathes in deeply says a quiet prayer for calm and patience and begins to read,
RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.
Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it-then you are ready to take certain steps.
At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.
Remember that we deal with alcohol – cunning,
baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power-that One is God. May you find Him now!
Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.
Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.” Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.
Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.
He read the entire reading…..and didn’t stutter once. He paused to let the words he just read sink in.
Then the tears in his eyes began to flow.
You could hear a pin drop in that conference room.
The chairman got up and walked over to him and gave him a big hug and said,
“You never have to be alone again, my friend.”
Before stepping back from the podium. He spoke once more.
“Thank you ffffor believing in me.”
The room erupted in applause….and tears.
My sponsor leans over to me and says,
“He was not your pet project in sobriety. He needed to find his way. I encouraged others to step in. One, because you were getting a big head over it….and 2 because you jabbed me with the speeding ticket I got. You need to realize that God is in charge of this deal….not you or I. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.”
That is why I am the sponsee and he is the sponsor.
Another day….another lesson on ego for me.
It is still good2begone.
Reading taken from Chapter 5 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. The chapter is called
“How It Works”