Okay, it is NOT what you think, even though I may have a beer or a glass of wine in a month. Nope. I was invited by a close friend whose son, "Tony," was getting his 20-year chip (actually a coin) for his sobriety! I was humbled and honored to be there to congratulate "Tony" on this impressive feat!
I was gobsmacked the whole night and picked up a brochure to learn more about this beautiful organization that began in 1935! As a probation/parole officer for the State of Ohio in the 1980s and 1990s, many of the people I supervised were court-ordered to attend AA/NA/SA regularly. I guess I had a chance then, but I never took advantage of attending a meeting until this past Friday.
Millions of people are familiar with the program of recovery from alcoholism that, to date, has helped over 2 million problem drinkers. And, frankly, it's all about Fellowship and assisting others (sponsors) in getting sober.
When the speakers meeting started at 8:30 pm, all eyes and listening skills were tuned in on "Tony's" story. He began revealing how he got involved in drinking as a teenager. However, he came from an idyllic family life. In his early teenage years, his fun drinking snowballed out of control until he went to a rehabilitation center in the South for 28 days. He was 20 years old. He got clean and sober but still needed more - AA! "Tony" likes to add that he has never had a legal drink in his life! He also mentioned that he tried to quit alone several times before heading to rehab. Sometimes he enjoyed sobriety for months, but it didn't last until he got tired of the roller coaster of CRAP he put himself through each day when he began drinking again.
By the time "Tony" was 21, he felt compelled to start helping others like him through sponsorships. He added that some of his best work and terrific conversations with others were in the car - a captive audience to share what he knew to guide others through the 12 steps and back to their sober lives.
After "Tony's" hour-long spellbound speech, one of his first sponsors awarded him the 20 year-chip. But,I unlike other chips, "Tony" was given a chip with three notches. This means this chip has been passed to three others who reached 20 years of sobriety.
"Tony" will pass on his chip eventually.
And ended with, "Sobriety, turn back to it and stay for a while."
Many raced to the podium when the program ended with congratulating "Tony." I waited with his family until we headed out of the building. I leaned into "Tony" and said, "Like so many things in life, I now know how you reached this remarkable feat, one.day.at.a.time." He smiled back at me and shook his head, yes, while tears rimmed my eyes as I headed to my car.