Do You Want What We Have?

By Matt Martinez 2018 06/22/18
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When I go to an AA meeting, we always open with "How it works" from Chapter 5 in the Big Book. Since my first meeting, this phrase stood out to me: "If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it..." Before I knew what that meant, or even where this phrase came from, I started to internalize it. I looked around the room where I sobered up. Did I want what other people had? You bet. Was I willing to go to any length to get it? Yes.

I sobered up with old timers. These old timers retired early and lived a life of leisure. I had no job, my family barely spoke to me, and I had no friends. I clung to their every word because I wanted what they had. I thought at a certain point, they'd tell me what stock to invest in. I figured if I talked to them after the meeting, they'd tell me to put a certain amount of money away. I asked them what job I should get. What they said was, get sober, and stay sober. It didn't make sense at the time. In my newly sober mind, believing that meant going to any length to get what they had.

In early sobriety, I often talked about when my comeback story would happen. I obsessed with identifying the turning point in my life. When that happened, I would be on my way to retiring early like these old timers. One day I realized, I had a sponsor, I had a job, and I had a car. I was making a comeback. Again, I didn't know when it happened. I only knew I was on my way to retiring early like the old-timers. That's all I wanted. I believed my comeback story correlated to my early retirement.

Today I have a career. I celebrate friend's birthdays. I rekindled a relationship with my brother. I have a purpose in life. I have more than what I hoped for when I walked into the rooms. It took time, but I understood what the old-timers said. Nothing is possible if I don't stay sober. I need to work an active program to accomplish this. I still try to talk to old-timers on a regular basis. Sometimes I don't want to go to a meeting. Sometimes I don't want to be of service to someone. When that happens, I remind myself, I want what old-timers have. I need to go to any length to get it.

Every time I go to a meeting, we read "How It Works." It's the first part of the Big Book that I learned. It might be the most important. It reminds me of why I'm at the meeting. I can't realize the potential of my life if I don't stay sober. The old-timers I talk to have achieved more than a large retirement account. They are wise, spiritual, and content. To get what they have, I need to go to any length to stay sober. I need to trust it will work.

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