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  • John Staley

K is for Keep In Touch

It seems to take on a bit different meaning in the time of the coronavirus. As I write this there has been a 'shelter in place' mandate in my county. Basically a semi-voluntary quarantine so as to lessen the spread of the virus. I have plenty of food and a whole array of distractions at my fingertips. I am stocked up to sit around for a few weeks as the virus blows through town and i do my best to avoid it. I have no work to go to as both restaurants I work at have been reduced to take out only and I am a waiter. The bank has deferred my car loan for a couple of months and any other expenses could be put on a credit card if need be. All the boxes are checked. I will be ok.

I live in a house with booze and beer and wine. In these times of isolation it would be easy to pick up a drink either out of boredom or stress or fear or panic. And I could justify and excuse that behavior six ways to Sunday. But it hasn't so long that I don't remember those Sunday morning hangovers. Isolation was a symptom of my alcoholism that caused more drinking and a shame circle that spiraled ever downward. The opposite of this is connection. We hear it so often in recovery circles. Near the end of my drinking, all of it was alone and it wasn't pretty. More often than not there was a bottle of vodka under my bed as that is where I preferred to do all my drinking. It made the passing out a lot easier. So often I would think, "If I could just be left alone to drink everything would be fine. I am only hurting myself and I don't care." Only in getting sober and the subsequent recovery did I come to find out how much I had hurt people around me with my drinking. It was a lot.

It was not without help that I got sober and continued to stay sober. I had to ask for the help and also be able to receive it. I had to be deeply vulnerable with strangers. The leap of faith to trust my first sponsor was immense and so crucial to my recovery. Looking back I am amazed I was able to to do it. I think it was through that relationship I was able to learn how to mend previously broken relationships. It also taught me the importance of trust in new relationships whether in love, business or friendship.

I recently got to catch up with an old friend. We spent our twenties together drinking A LOT. I wasn't sure if he was ever going to make it out of active alcoholism but in what could have been a disastrous turn of events he did. He called me on the first day he decided to get sober. Mostly I just listened and told him what worked for me. He has taken some of my advice and he has forged his own path in ways I could never do. He has been sober for two years now. I am so grateful for this. I am happy that sobriety and recovery has given us a chance to be friends again and to be closer than ever before.

I make it a point to say hi whenever the urge strikes me. Whether I am calling my Mom or texting a friend I don't ignore the impetus to reach out. It is important to me that they know I love them, that I think about them and I am happy that they are in my life regardless of the miles or the years that may be us. Write, call, text or holler at a neighbor, friend or loved one. They will appreciate it. Sobriety has given me so many relationships back and I intend to be present in them.


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