Tonight in my men’s meeting, there was a homeless man sitting next to me. The knuckles on his left hand were bleeding. He’s staying in shelters and hopeful that he gets a subsidized apartment soon. For reasons I don’t understand, it has to happen this week or he’ll have to wait another year. He was probably 55, but might’ve been younger. So many alcoholics have hard lives and look older than they are.
He talked about his ex-wife. How she used to gamble away the child support he gave her, so he started bring clothes and groceries. And how she hated him for that. So, he used to have some kind of life. He wants a job, but he was dirty and unshaven. He didn’t say how long it had been since he’d drunk. He gave the impression of being in and out a lot.
I am grateful when I meet people like that. My heart goes out to him. I know that I am not many drinks from being much like him. I am useless to myself or others the moment I drink. Before. I’m useless as soon as I abandon the work that I need to do to maintain the condition of my sobriety, what we call our “spiritual condition”, though, it needn’t have anything supernatural to it.
I see him, and I feel so much gratitude that I found the program when I did. That somehow, I was willing to do what it takes. That I connected with the rooms and the concepts and the whole network of sober men and women in AA. That through working the program, I was able to emerge from my own alcoholic misery. And build this life that I have. I didn’t do it with will. I didn’t do it with strength. I did it with surrender and willingness.
I know that we alcoholics can recover. I have. This man can. There’s hope for all of us. I know because I’m living it.