I have been getting some very cool and random phone calls and messages all day, one of many things to be grateful for today. April 22, 1989 was the last time I took a drink and two days later, exactly 25 years ago today at 8:00pm I went to my first “real” meeting. I say “real” because I checked out three meetings in a span of three weeks a year and a half earlier and decided at the age of 18 I had no business giving up booze. Never mind that I was not even legal yet but that was beside the point, right?
I have never been one to shout from the rooftops about my sobriety. It has nothing to do with wanting to keep that anonymous from everyone. It has everything to do with a firm belief that the whole point of The Program is a way of living that in no way has a dramatic impact on everyone else. I had the fortune of getting sober when I was 20, yet I still made a point when I turned 21 of going to clubs and bars because my passion for seeing live music meant I would need to venture into “those places”.
Were there times I didn’t? Absolutely. What helped in that respect is I had an amazing group of friends when I was in my twenties and still trying to figure out how to not drink and still go to shows that supported me in the best way possible – by remaining true to themselves and not changing their behavior around me. I went to a lot of shows at some great venues back in the nineties like the Sun Club, Long Wong’s, Edcel’s Attic, The Electric Ballroom, Chuy’s and later Gibson’s, Nita’s Hideaway and The Mason Jar. Buddies of mine like Lance, Fitz, Jim L., Ty, Rob, Todd, Jim H., John, Steve, Les, all of the guys from The Sunnyslope Crew and of course The Bob never made me feel less than just because I didn’t have a bottle in my hand. Some of those guys made a point of throwing their car keys at me when I showed up, something I look back at fondly today. Gentleman like Ron P, Brian M. and Gary C. provided the kind of mentorship that was critical as I struggled with changing my life.
More important, I want to say thank you to all of my dear friends I had the pleasure of meeting during my first (hopefully) 25 years of sobriety. Obviously I won’t divulge names here, you know whom you are. However, I am going to give a special shout-out to my first sponsor Gary M., the gentleman in the picture above. Gary passed away June 1997 and to say I still miss him dearly is an understatement. The impact that man had on me cannot be measured my friends. Anyone that has known me since I was in my teens and early twenties knows what a pain in the ass I was back then, sometimes still the case today. Gary had a patience and an ability to love unconditionally that I still cannot comprehend to this day. Count your blessings if you ever had a chance to meet him, I do everyday.
So much to be grateful for, cheers!