Saturday, September 20, 2008

Can a picture save lives?

Today at the 10 a.m. women's meeting, a fairly new member (we'll call her "Skippy") pounced on the call for a topic for the discussion. She's actually been around for a while, but she has a hard time staying sober. If you squeezed her at random times, you'd be more likely than not to get a bit of booze out of her.

Anyway, her topic was weepily presented. A young local man died drunk last week. A number of women in the meeting knew him from other meetings. Skippy shared in top dramatic form that the dead man's mother had given her (Skippy) the man's picture and asked her to take it to meetings to pass around.

Said the mother, according to Skippy, "If just one life can be saved by looking at my dead son's picture, I'll know his death wasn't in vain!"

So Skippy had the picture in her hand and held it up as she went on to tell us that the mother was living with horrible guilt because she'd been angry when the son came home drunk. Apparently he didn't like her reaction and went back out and then crashed and died.

Skippy handed the photo to the woman on her right and there was a pause. The chair, another one who is fairly gushy with fresh booze (at times) said, "so then the topic is... grief?"

I said, "First step."

Well, we had a brand-spankin' new one there - in her second week of sobriety (and her first second week, at that - and of course, hopefully her ONLY second week).

Anyway, I decided to share first to hopefully get us on track with something like Alcoholics Anonymous.

"I'm Sober Girl and I'm an alcoholic," I began. "I wish that looking at the picture of a dead alcoholic could keep me sober, but it can't. I feel sad for him and for his family, but I knew lots of dead people before sobriety and sadly even more since getting sober."

I'm not going to try to tell you verbatim what I shared, but I will tell you this:

First, outside issues and singleness of purpose. It wasn't the mother of the dead guy sharing (and the mother is not an alcoholic) it was a third party. I think that between a good handful of us, we managed to make the meeting revolve around alcoholism, recovery, sobriety and the first step. Living in the solution was mentioned a lot.

Oh, how I do wish that images could keep me sober. And sometimes recollections of my past (upon which I do not shut the door) are alarmingly crystal clear. My own story can help me stay sober today, it is true. But if all it took to keep me sober, to save my life, was pictures of dead alcoholics, believe me - I would have overflowing photo albums all over my house.

What keeps me sober is this: The daily reprieve I am granted by way of the maintenance of my spiritual fitness. I have to do what recovered alcoholics do - pray, talk to my sponsor and other alcoholics, go to meetings, be of service to others, read our literature and DON'T pick up the first drink.

I do not believe that "some must die so that others may live." Nor do I believe that those of us who are sober today are thus because God selected us to be sober. Too frightening a thought. What if God decides tomorrow that I don't need to be sober anymore? What if God decides tomorrow that I need to die so that others may live?

No, the story of the young man, presented earnestly as a cautionary tale by a newcomer who really should have consulted her sponsor first ("hey, sponsor, this lady gave me her dead son's picture and asked me to pass it around - is that okay to do?") is not going to keep me sober. I doubt it's going to keep anyone sober.

What do you think?


LaDy said...

wow. your ego is through the roof. lets get that in check.

::: tellin' it like it is ::: said...

Why do you say that, LaDy?

Would a picture of a dead kid keep you sober?

My sponsor taught me that it's the constant contact with my HP that will stand between me and that next drink. She didn't specifically say a picture of a dead alcoholic would not do the trick, but from my experience thus far, and having seen way too many people die from active alcoholism, knowing that alcohol can kill alcoholics is not really prevention. The only prevention for ME is to avoid the first drink. I'm helped in that effort by going to meetings, talking with my sponsor, working steps, etc.

Did I misunderstand you somehow?