sober prose


I remember you well.
I was young then and early in my sobriety. We used to walk from the meeting near 31st St over to 5th and 33rd.
I talked. You mostly listened.
You laughed and told me, “You’ll get it, someday.”
And by get it, you were talking about that thing they call serenity.

 You once told me about your escape plan. You told me you wanted to head out to the county and paint the side of old barns. Said, you thought it would be peaceful.

I once saw an old barn down I-80, just off exit 302. You would have liked it.
The barn was in the middle of a field with tall grass and there was a weeping willow near the side.
It was like something from a Thomas Kinkade paining. The sun was about to fall and the sky was changing color.

 It was perfect.

I’m sure wherever you are now; the scenes are more beautiful than anything I could ever imagine.


 Old Frank….
You hated the day you quit drinking. Then you hated the day you started again.
You hated “The rooms,” and the people in the meetings.
You hated your sponsor and his suggestions.
You hated everyone …..except me (I think)

Someone asked you, “Then why stay sober if you hate it so much?”
That’s when you pointed your finger and yelled, “Because I’m tired of being miserable, that’s why!”

I told you, “Only drunks say things like that.”
You laughed at me and said, “Kid,  I don’t come to these meetings for the free coffee.”


I admit it.
I lost my taste for the rooms.
I lost my connection somewhere after my last sponsor passed away.

I saw someone I used to know from that 12 step meeting on 31st Street.
I noticed him walking through Grand Central.

 “Wow,” he said. “You gained so much weight, I almost didn’t recognize you.”
 I said, “Thanks, with a hint of sarcasm.
Then he asked how I was.
 “I’m good.”
“Staying out of trouble?”
“I’ll be sober 23 years this April.”

 “Well,” he judged. “You won’t be sober much longer if you don’t go back to meetings.”

Ever say hello to someone and wish you hadn’t?


I am sober far longer than the time I was active in my addiction.
I have this thing…and although you cannot see it, I hold it very closely
I have this achievement.

My last time in rehab was three months after a 24hr binge.
I gave away what I earned and traded my sobriety for a 24hour binge.
The worst part was the following morning.
My reflection in the mirror was too painful to see.

There was family at my house, and they all took turns at saying how proud they were.

Three months later, I placed myself back in treatment and went for what they called, “Repeat,” counseling.
By repeat, they meant that I was there before. I knew the counselors and they knew me. I knew the system and I knew the routine.
My room was two doors away from the room I was in during my first stay.

In a meeting filled with 40 junkies and drunks, the counselor explained, “Look around. The odds are only one out of 35 people in this room will make it. Only one out of 35 will stay sober.”
Then he said, “The question you should ask yourself is this; is that person going to be me?”

I decided that one in 35 would be.

A lot of people said I would never make it.
A lot of people bet against me in that rehab
…and a lot of people lost that bet.


I compare myself to this:

I watched a jiu-jitsu tournament and saw a man fighting off of his back. His opponent was in top position, but the man on the bottom continued to move. He kept looking for the sweep and shooting for the submission.
He was on his back and he was on the bottom, but he never gave in.
He may have lost the match, but he was never beaten.

I view this as motivational…

No matter what, I have to keep moving—even if I’m fighting from my back.
I have to keep trying…I have to keep looking for the sweep.
I have to hold onto what I know and use what I’ve learned

This way, even if I lose,
……………………..I will never be beaten


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