January 6, 2021
“Today So Far” …. I hear this every time I participate in a 12-step meeting. And…I SAY IT at every meeting when asked what recovery milestone has been met. “Today So Far” is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given! It means I’ve learned a better way of life. And I haven’t had to place a bet or have a drink to live “life on life’s terms.” It keeps me in touch with the fact that recovery is attained one day at a time. It is not an “event” it is a process. Each day in recovery is a gift.
Today (So Far) is a milestone of sorts. It is my 25th “Birthday” in Gamblers Anonymous. It feels right to share this morning’s Journal Entry with you…it’s the best way I can express what I’m feeling today. Journaling is one of the best tools I’ve found in recovery. My feelings and thoughts are expressed unfiltered and unedited…they just flow and I can release them, honor them, and let them go. So excuse any typos, incomplete sentences or grammatical errors. This is how I journal. So..here’s my #TodaySoFar entry.
25th GA Birthday
Curious. Today is a day to give thanks for the endless gifts and blessings of recovery. Yet my thoughts are of Tommy W., Anton’y, and Lanie…those who didn’t survive this insidious, patient, destructive disease. All three of these beautiful souls, along with countless others we lost, experienced glimpses of the gifts…they held the delicate petals of early recovery in their hands and asked in wonder “Can this be REAL? Can my life REALLY be better…can it be THIS good?”
The internal battle of early recovery is palpable..”Am I really worthy? I’ll probably screw it up again, so why bother?”
“No! I want this. I AM worthy. Im going to fight for a better life – free from the bet and free to love and be loved.”
But each of them succumbed at some point; and ultimately lost.
I question which is better. To live a life in ignorance of how good life can truly be once free from addiction or to see it, touch it, taste it, marvel at it for a time…only to see those gifts drip away as once again, the enemy took hold and took them under. That seems too sad. Too painful.
I picture them with a hand reaching out as the drowning waters of addiction take them under.
This image is too painful. It hurts my heart. I choose to focus my memories on the “moments.” The heartfelt talks over coffee after a meeting. Bowling with Ant’ny until 2:00 in the morning at the Showbaot – a time when we had all 106 lanes to ourselves. And he could be his goofy self – doing his “turkey dance” after a run. Talking ENDLESSLY – much of his steam-of-conciousness thoughts and musings not understood by me. But it didn’t matter. We were friends. We were clean. We were living life a new way – bowling in the middle of the night instead of hiding behind a slot machine. Going home tired and being able to sleep with only the thoughts of a missed spare to trouble us, instead of thinking of how to cover countless lies and financial messes.
Precious Anthony – belovedly called “Ant’ny” by me in homage to his New Yorker’s unique way of introducing himself:) Ant’ny was sweet and kind. Troubled and persistent.
Years ago at one of our GA Birthday “Countdowns” – I stood with those who had “Seven years but not yet eight.” Ant’ny stood for “one day but not yet two days” Ant’ny was our newest member that day. He stood as our “fellows” applauded his courage and our eyes locked across the room. So much said through unspoken words. “I know my friend. I’m sorry. But you’re STILL HERE! Good for you! Keep coming back NO MATTER WHAT.”
And he did! I don’t think Ant’ny ever stopped fighting for a better life. I don’t know where he stood in his recovery walk the day he died in a car accident on his was to see a special woman in his life. On the Searchlight Road. Alone at night in the dark. I don’t know how it ended for Ant’ny on that road alone. But I hope he had true love. I pray he had learned to love himself. I pray he had more moments of peace and the joy I saw in him when he danced the “Turkey Dance” at Showboat Lanes. Oh dear Ant’ny – the sparkle in those eyes! That is what I shall remember my friend!
And Lanie. What can I even say my dear sister? My mind embraces the picture us dancing and laughing. Cheek to cheek and peeing our pants in hilarity. I picture me “spooning” you on our couch in Boulder City, a night after another bout of endlessly compulsive gambling as the enemy chipped away at your soul. You were, very nearly, inconsolable., All I knew was that the best thing I could offer was a heart-wrapping embrace…to spoon you so that you could literally feel my unlimited love enfolding you. How much more does our Father in Heaven love you? Oh dear sister – I know that you are feeling that love now.
And Tommy. “Tommy, Tommy, Tommy.” More complex than anyone I’ve ever known. Your story dear friend, is one for the ages. Too smart for your own darn good. You could make it all so complicated! Your busy brain was always ten steps ahead of everyone else. But you couldn’t outthink or outmaneuver this disease! Prison, insanity or death. You lived it Tommy. But you also lived moments of experiencing true friendship. Real love. Always your guard would come up, or you demons would come out. You never truly accepted your worthiness.
I loved you Tommy. I love you still. And today, on this day when I thank God for my abstinence, my recovery, this peace, I mourn those who lost. And I practice acceptance of the “things I cannot change.”
Ant’ny, Lanie, Tommy…I hold you in my heart today. I go to meetings. I do what I can to share my experience, strength and hope, and I pray that today my “share” gives others the courage and hope to carry on!
Life does life. It throws us spitballs and sometimes hand grenades. We stand firm and, when the grenades come, we circle the wagons with “our fellows.” The seas will surely calm again. They always do. My job – our job in recovery – is to stand firm on the principles that are our rock of recovery. And then..as the seas calm…share what happened so that our brothers and sisters can hear and learn and gain hope.
And they do the same for us during our own stormy seas. And we know – I know – that “Today So Far” is God’s gift. I shall glorify Him and His gift of recovery this day. Amen