This is another post from my old blog: "Past the Wall of Tears." Although I still have access to each post, a lot of the posts from this blog- after a period of time were removed from the main page and archived. Hence the date of the post, January 30th., 2009- my ten year sobriety date.
I haven't written an entry for each year of my sobriety, but I was reflecting on my ten year celebration- only the second time I took a cake at an AA Meeting. The First cake was at my one year sobriety birthday. These are two mile-stones that I will never forget; especially the first year- and what it took to get there.
January 30th., 2015, will be my sixteen year sobriety birthday- drug and alcohol free, by the "Grace of God" for sixteen years. As I reflect on my years of recovery, and again, what it's taken me to get here- I had to re-post reflections on my tenth year. Here it is...
I wept joyfully as I drove to work today. Today is my sobriety birthday. "Ten years clean and sober- by the Grace of God." Such joy, such fulfillment, such life! Truly, there is no life like it.
The first picture (above) was taken as I was entering my grade eight year (the little guy standing with me is my nephew and great friend, Chris). The second, a complete transformation: the end of my grade eleven year. I began a work out program in grade eleven so that I could get my PE credits for my high school graduation. My weight, as obvious in the first picture, was a real problem. By the end of the year I had lost fifty-two pounds...and to think, this all began with a twenty dollar bet with my grade eleven PE teacher.
This is how I feel about my sobriety: transformed-I'm certainly not the man I was ten years ago. I have experienced significant growth- mentally, emotionally, physically, and above all, spiritually. I have a relationship with the Father (God!) today- that can fully be described as "Best Friends Forever!" I've come to know him in ways that I never knew he existed, and have experienced his grace and mercy in ways that continues to blow my mind. He truly is a God beyond the four walls of a church, and not just one who sits on a throne in the heavens, watching my every move, just waiting to "throw darts of lightning" at me the minute I mess up.
He walks with me, he talks with me. I hear him in the wind and the rustling leaves. He's the hand that causes the trees to sway and the grass to bow. He makes the waters flow so crisp and so clean. He causes every star in the sky to shine most beautifully- and just when you sneak a peek at them, he causes them to "twinkle," just for you! As I'm walking and I say "good-morning" to the singing birds, or to the squirrel that runs across the street or up a tree...it is God. He is every where, in every thing; and the most beautiful thing of all, every time the sun shines you can feel his beautiful warmth upon your face: caressing you, loving you. He is so wonderful; so beautiful. When I'm at the beach at the waters edge with grains of sand slipping through my fingers...it is God. He's the sound of the waves as they crash lightly and softly against the shore. When I think about the beauty and awesomeness of God, I am moved emotionally: I cry. He's so tender, full of grace, and rich in mercy. In the early months of my sobriety, when the pain was too great, and uncertainty and chaos was the torture of my soul, he didn't turn away, but allowed me to be me, and let me go through that passage I needed to go through to get well.
I cussed, I cursed, I swore. I yelled, I shouted, I screamed. I punched, I kicked, and I threw. I blamed. You know what he did? He loved me. He loved me again and again, and again. As much as I fought it and didn't want it, he loved me anyway. A tortured soul full of bitterness, hatred, and rage doesn't want to have anything to do with love. If once there was love and trust that was shattered with death, destruction, and broken promises- love is the furthest thing from one's mind. I could feel his hands wrapping around me, in these my moments of torture. I could feel his embrace when I tried to fight it. I could feel his love when I didn't want it. He sat with me, after I'd just gotten through throwing the biggest fit of rage, and calling him every foul name that I could think of, cursing him, hating him...and he whispered: "Godwin. I Love You."
Oh that the world would come to know such a loving God; such a kind, caring, generous, and compassionate God.
That the broken hearted could know that there is hope. Let this hope begin with knowing that God is everywhere, in everything. He'll meet you where ever you are at. In that deep and darkened room with that needle in your arm. In that back alley as you sit in your unwashed and filthy clothing that you've worn for the past few months- drinking from that bottle of whiskey that you pan handled for. Your family has given up on you, your friends have given up on you. No one wants to have any thing to do with you any more. You're a hopeless case. Guess what? There is love...there is so much love. It's in the winnowing wings of angels that sit at your side watching over you. You wonder why that empty bottle suddenly fell off the table as you were sitting there ready to inject your arm- you are not alone. You wonder why- when there was no breeze, that- that empty, crushed, pop can suddenly came your way. You're not alone.
There is the heavenlies; the invisible. There is the spiritual. There is God. There is hope.
Where do we go from here. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. There are only great things in store for people like us, because it is people like us that have really learned compassion, love, grace, mercy, kindness, and forgiveness. It is people like us who truly know what it is to walk a mile in another man's shoes. It is people like us who truly bear the gift, the gift of life.
With this birthday I've been given a brand new slate. I started using, drinking and drugging, when I was thirteen. I used for twenty-three years. Today, I am ten years clean and sober. If you add the numbers you will see that there's a perfect balance now in terms of the number of years that I used and the number of years that I've been clean. Taking into account the years from birth, to the time that I first started using at the age of thirteen, combined with my ten years sobriety...this adds up to twenty-three. A totally clean slate, a brand new beginning: twenty-three years of using and twenty-three years clean- a perfect balance.
It's amazing how from death, one learns to live.
In his love and mine,
Godwin H. Barton