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Grapevine : February 2011
ly nothing recognizable. I walked around in constant distress, disbe- lief and hopelessness. My gut ached as if the wind had been knocked out of me. In this state, I began attending AA meetings. Meetings brought tem- porary safety from the booze, but I hated the discomfort and agitation of not drinking. I missed oblivion. Recovery was slow and not without setbacks. Time passed without a drink. A sponsor came into my life. Early Step work, involvement with a home group and some preliminary attempts at service followed. In the first three years of sobriety, at best I was grateful to be alive in light of my chronic alcoholism, with its history of failure, self-destructive behavior and dangerous blackouts. However, contentment eluded me. My sponsor met with me faithfully each week. One of the repeated conversations went like this: What do you want? IwanttobeOK. You are OK. I'm not OK. My sponsor would come clean that she did not know when this thing (recovery) would work for me, but she was confident that it would work if I consistently and persistent- ly took the actions suggested and fol- lowed the plan. One Saturday afternoon I joined her in a local coffee shop for our weekly meeting. I arrived with a belly full of discontentment and re- sentment and it wasn't long before it spilled out. I wanted a job in my old career, instead of the physical and dirty hourly wage work I seemed limited to in sober years. I wanted my own place, instead of having to stay with family due to poor finances. I wanted health insurance. It had now been years since I'd had a job with ben- efits. I wanted to not have to sacrifice two hours of time meeting a sponsor on a precious weekend afternoon. I wanted what "they" were getting---all those AAs who had similar lengths of sobriety and were inundated with good things in their lives, such as re- turning to school, new cars or homes, jobs with more responsibility. After listening to me ramble on with my list of wants and without missing a beat, my sponsor asked pointblank, "Have you asked what God wants?" Thunderstruck, I was stopped in my tracks. She proceeded to give me an assignment (I often had assign- ments). Each night in my evening prayers I was to directly ask, What do you want, God? My basic mix of desperation and lack of options always motivated me to take direc- tion---perhaps without a smile, but I took direction. And so with gritted teeth, each night I asked in prayer: What do you want, God? I asked Grapevine 45