from The San Diego AA Coordinator, January 2007

When I thought of the topic of “new beginnings,” and as we start a new year, I was reminded of my drinking days. In the past I could not wait until New Years Eve. First of all it was a good excuse to get obliterated drunk, not as if I needed an excuse any other day. Another reason I loved to start a new year was because I inevitably had much wreckage to clean up from the year before. Thad a laundry list of incomprehensible, demoralizing events that I regretted and preferred to forget. Somehow starting a new year seemed to set the stage for better beginnings. Until I quit drinking, however, those fresh, new beginnings never seemed to take root.

Since I quite drinking, however, I have had many fresh, new beginnings. The first was just waking up without a hangover and knowing what I had done the night before. When I was drinking I either dragged myself to work hung over or slept the day away. Enjoying the simple things like having a quiet morning and sipping my coffee as the world gets started has become one of my most cherished times. I was 27 when I got sober and I thought that was the end of all my fun and the end of my new beginnings and that I would become the proverbial hole in the donut. Over the years, I am happy to report that there have been many new beginnings.

One thing that has stayed the same is that I have always gone to meetings, worked the steps, had a sponsor and have been of service in AA. But as we all know that docs not mean that our lives become stagnant. Almost everything else seems to have changed. I believe that energy in our lives is always moving; how gracefully we move with it or resist it is our choice.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that some new heginnings can be painful and challenging. To lose my best friend alcohol was not fun. I had to learn about this scary thing called emotions and realize that they would not gobble me up, and that I would not die if I felt them. Feeling them, acknowledging them, and moving on seems to work much better when I do it. Then, when I was six months sober I had another painful loss when my mother died. She was the only parent I knew, so a new beginning, feeling as if I were an orphan, was terrifying at times. I was lucky to have a solid home group who literally carried me through that painful time. As a result, I fell in love with Alcoholics Anonymous, and I will be forever grateful. I also had a new beginning when I moved away from the city where I got sober with five years of sobriety. It was a positive, happy change and truly a Higher Power thing.

Although I struggled with the different meetings, it really was an exciting new beginning. I walked through my fears to experience new things. Since then I have made San Diego my home and Alcoholics Anonymous is an important part of that.

A lot of my other changes have been subtle changes of the educational variety. My relationship with my Higher Power is always changing and has transformed from a far away concept to a personal relationship that I know I can rely upon. It is a Higher Power that I can do business with, and I do not have to take on anyone else’s belief system, limitations or rules.

Changes and new beginnings in relationships have been another area of growth over the years. We all have our own path in this area, and I always try to remember that my lessons may not be your lessons and vice versa. Some of us have had less than stellar childhoods that were also riddled with alcoholism and drug addiction. For me personally, I have had to let go of unhealthy relationships and realize that I deserve better ones in my life with people who love and support me. It took many years for that lesson to travel from my head to my heart. No matter what your problems are with relationships, whether platonic or romantic, one thing I do know is that diligently working the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with a sponsor will help improve them. I have also sought outside help in this area, which has been immensely helpful.

Some new beginnings I have experienced have been good. Some have been painful, but even with the bumps in the road, my life has improved beyond belief from my drinking days. Even when life on life’s terms knocks me over, I have the tools to get through it. For the most part today my problems are luxury problems and problems of abundance.

Today when I begin a New Year, I am still excited. But now it is a much calmer excitement. It is no longer fueled by regretting the past. And now I know that if I stay sober one day at a time, l am more likely to have my new beginnings take root. Happy New Year and best wishes for many happy new beginnings.