Years ago, I sat in a 7am Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting with an older gentleman [I use the word gentleman loosely] who was a curmudgeon type ex Coast Guard with great AA recovery and a very unsavory past. He had before recovery had a favorite bar and woman in every port, not to mention the “little wife” [it’s a generational thing] back home. What I recall most about “Dave” besides his salty language was how he could and would recite verbatim passages from the AA Big Book. The fact that he didn’t die always amazed me. It took me a while of listening to Dave until I noticed one day that at the end of every flowery share he would always end with the saying: “AND I DESERVE TO BE SOBER TODAY.”
I started to pay close attention to how he neatly weaved his story to always end up saying “AND I DESERVE TO BE SOBER TODAY.” One day after the meeting, with reservation, I might add, I worked up the courage to ask him about it. To my surprise he was amused that I picked up that nuance and I can still see in my mind’s eye that cockeyed smirk. His response has stuck with me all these years. He said he needed to RECLAIM the word DESERVE. His years of drinking and whoring were driven intellectually by his working definition of the word “DESERVE”.
What is the meaning of the word DESERVE?
To be worthy of: merit deserves another chance. to be worthy, fit, or suitable for some reward.
For Dave, and I conclude for most addicts it just can come down to WORK HARD/PLAY HARD, OR some rational that helps make RIGHT what an addict knows in his heart of hearts is WRONG. Wherever you are reading this there is a dive bar close by with some sad sap sitting there drinking way too much saying the likes of: if you were married to my wife, you would drink too! You see, he thinks he DESERVES to get drunk. Or maybe it’s a guy sitting in a strip club complaining to himself how his wife gained weight, or they just stopped having sex after her third child. Rationalize, justified, minimized, and marginalize all while working overtime to get to “I DESERVE…”
So here is an enticing definition of the word Reclaim: to take back something, or to find another purpose for waste or unusable material, or to RESCUE SOMEONE FROM A STATE OF IMMORALITY.
Dave would share about how conducive the culture of the Coast Guard was to his behavior even though it was the Coast Guard that forced him into treatment three times in eight years. The deal was straight forward, get sober or get discharged. On the third try it stuck.
Social constructs do not have inherent meaning. The only meaning they have is the meaning given to them by people. For example, the antiquated idea that pink is for girls and blue is for boys is an example of a social construct related to gender and the color of items. Drinking and whoring in the military, or fraternity or connected to sports for men often creates a social construct that is ripe for addiction. Like so many before him, Dave found that he needed AA and the social construct around sobriety to get to be the highest and best version of Dave he could be.
A few years back to my chagrin, he got in his motor home and headed to the warmth of Arizona. I miss that old coot.
I am grateful for his wisdom and strength of primary purpose. Don’t drink no matter what and most of all WE DESERVE TO BE SOBER TODAY. If you’re struggling with addiction, feel free to reach out and remember MISERY IS OPTIONAL.
A Japanese woman recognized as the world’s oldest person, Kane Tanaka, has died at age 119, just months short of her goal of reaching 120. With her death, the world’s oldest human is now Lucile Randon, a French nun known as Sister Andre, aged 118, according to The Gerontology Research Group. She died on April 22, 2022.
In the Old Testament it said that Moses lived to be 120 years old. Among Christians and Jews, an often-said blessing to an older person would be “may you live to be 120! This my 120th Blog. I got here in twelve years.