When my sponsor and I talked on the phone for the first time she asked me to answer questions about what I was looking for in a sponsor, my expectations for myself, and what I was willing to do and go through to stay sober. I hear it all the time in meetings: people dealing with the loss of a parent or spouse, homelessness, job loss, depression, mental illness, and pain sober. Ultimately, I’ve dealt with a lot of emotions sober, but how far am I actually willing to go?
As far as emotions go, I think I am willing to go through hell sober. It is not to say that I want to by any means, it just seems like the smartest choice. If I get high or drink instead of dealing with the emotions sober and in a healthy manner, they are going to build up and bite me in the ass. Avoiding them with drugs and alcohol is only going to make it worse, so I am not going to put my life and my emotions in further danger by using and abusing drugs to deal with my emotions, no matter what.
While I’ve come to terms with what I will go through emotionally sober, I hear a lot of people at my sober living or treatment center who say that their sobriety has limits. One friend says that if either of her parents dies, she will go back out. Another friend actually did go back out, because a job did not work out and she “didn’t have anything to stay sober for.” She is open to becoming sober should something change. I wonder if I am just overly optimistic. I am certainly no longer a newcomer, but I am in my first year. I work a program, but my sobriety theoretically is not as strong as it could be. It is a day at a time program, so tomorrow’s quality of sobriety is always unknown. Nobody truly knows what difficulties they are willing to stay sober through.
There are hypothetical physical limitations to my sobriety. When I met with my sponsor for the first time, I told her that “if I ever get cancer or AIDS, I will smoke weed.” She told me that I could still be sober. While certainly not Pacific Group sober (a sect of Alcoholics Anonymous that considers all psychiatric/psychotropic drugs regardless of doctor prescription ruinous to one’s sobriety), many individuals in the program with AIDS actually take marinol (synthetic cannabinoid pill) with their medications and still are sober. She told me that as they cannot take their necessary medications to keep their AIDS virus at bay without vomiting unless they take marinol and also need it to make them eat, it is considered essential to their health, and as such they are still sober. Furthermore, they are not taking the medication in an attempt to get loaded. In reality, if I get cancer, I guess I would get marinol as opposed to marijuana and only if necessary.
Thinking about what I am willing to go through sober and in order to stay sober is a major relief in some ways. Watching people in treatment and sober living go out because they want to makes me feel anxious, as though it is random and I could be next. I think our willingness to stay sober, in and of itself, is fruitless. It is only through our willingness to turn our will and lives over to a Higher Power that keeps us sober. While it is a day by day program, I feel as though as long as I am willing to and do turn my will over to a Higher Power every day and every time I feel like I am going against my Higher Power’s will or desire for me, I will be safe from relapse, every time.