100,001 Hours

“Someday we’d do useful things, we’d rise above, be kings and queens / But knew cheap chairs would always be our thrones …”—“All That,” Sparks, A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip

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My first few hours sober were spent in anticipation of my next drink. Up until then, any hours sober—at work, or asleep, or at a social engagement in which alcohol was not present for reasons mysterious—were spent in cheerful anticipation of the next drink. Years, decades, passed with me either inebriated or in anticipation of that state.

I am one of those alcoholics who detested drunkenness in myself or in those around me. I only wanted the pleasant, detached, “buzzed” sensation, but the moment alcohol hit my bloodstream, I lost any capability to remain in that pleasant condition—the thought/sensation was, “If this feels good, more will feel better”—and so the land of drunkenness is usually where I landed. Decades. Decades.

On July 15, 2010, I was out of alcohol, out of money, out of food, recently fired from a sales job in front of customers (that’s a fun memory to have), and I anticipated my next (the last) paycheck from that employer. The paycheck came a day late, on July 17, and that extra day is how I am alive and sober today to write these words. July 15, 2010, was 100,000 hours ago today. I think there are more than 100,000 people to thank.
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Ten Years

It’s a long list. Each day for the last 3653 days, someone has said or written something directly to me or merely within earshot that served to guide me through one more day sober. One more sober day. I have thanked some members of that list in person, but some others are individuals whom I met once and they guided me through that day and then moved on. It’s a long list.

The individuals who have offered their wisdom more than once, some have become friends. Others have died, some have moved away. Not to go all “In My Life” on you.

I do not claim to remember every morsel of wisdom that I credit as that day’s bit of help for me because I am not Proust and I am not a diarist and many days I would not know wisdom even if it was offered to me wrapped in a box and labelled “Wisdom for Mark.” (Everyone loves presents!) My life as a sober member of society is proof enough for me that help has been offered and accepted each day for what is now, as of today, ten continuous years of sobriety.
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Pandemic Diary 7: A Memory of a Friend

Each April 7, some of us remember a friend of ours who passed on this date. Charles F. Brennan, III—my friend Charlie (November 2, 1960–April 7, 2014)—was my recovery sponsor for a time.

On this date, some of us remember him—not for his departure, but for his presence. What follows are my handful of memories from the brief three or so years that I knew him at the end of his all-too-brief fifty-three years. The departure was difficult enough, but a community grew closer for a moment and thus a beauty came out of it. That was my first experience of beauty within grief, and it was a testament to the lives Charlie had touched and influenced.

At the top is a copy of The Serenity Prayer in Irish, which we found in his apartment:

An Phaidir Suaimhneas
A Dhia,
deonaigh dom an suaimhneas
chun glacadh le rudaí
nach féidir liom a athrú,
misneach chun rudaí a athrú nuair is féidir,
agus gaois
chun an difríocht a aithint.

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