Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Joy of Living

As my sister recently pointed out to anyone within earshot, I'm a recovering alcoholic. One of the ways in which I stay recovered is by working with others, by which I mean people who are new to recovery, usually people who are still shell-shocked by whatever events led them to their 1st 12th Step meetings.

People like that often, but not always, are so "mocus" (mostly out of focus) that you could recite the phone book to them and they'd think you were God.

People like me, who have a few "24s" under our belts ("24s" = days in recovery), are duty-bound to do what we can to help the newcomers through that difficult and very painful period of their lives. Initially many of them need total parental care. They're so devastated by years of alcohol and/or drug abuse that they have difficulty focusing on the simplest of tasks.

It is one of the many paradoxes of recovery programs that you "keep it by giving it away." Alkies and druggies, in their active addictions, are the most self-serving, self-centered people on earth. As we recover we find, often begrudgingly at first, that "working with others" is tremendously rewarding.

It took me a long time before I finally began "to get it" that by sharing my experience, hope and strength with others, I would find a sense of fulfillment that I had never experienced before in my life.

I'm in the midst of such an experience with someone now. We have a great deal in common. It's as though we had identical childhoods, both of us having to grow up with alcoholic mothers who "used" us as pawns in power struggles against our fathers. And we both dealt with it the same way, by turning inward and shutting down our feelings of anger, and love. When I talk to him, one on one, about my experiences, I can see the look of amazement on his face as he realizes that he is not alone, that someone else truly "understands" his pain and has compassion for him.

When I'm with him I feel like I'm pouring cool water into the mouth of a man who has just crawled out of the desert. I can't pour it fast enough for him.

This is what recovered alcoholics live for. It is, in fact, our "primary purpose", to stay sober and to help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. Not to make a killing in the stock market, not to kick back and relax, not to wait for somebody "else" to do something.

Giving back what was so freely given to me is the real Joy of Living.


Bev Sykes said...

God, you write well.

JoyZeeBoy said...

Thank you for saying so. I get embarrassed because, you see, it's a gift from God, like being born beautiful or something. I don't feel like I "do" anything to earn praise for it.

I just bang on the keyboard and WYSIWYG.

I will say this, though. That when I'm really cranking it out from the heart (as I did in this piece) it does seem to come out ... well, better.