During that gathering, I will speak up.
“Hi,” I will say. “My name is Doug and I’m an alcoholic. It has been 20 years to this day since my last drink.”
When the time comes to pass out coins about the size of a half-dollar, I will get one with an “XX” on it in Roman numerals — a symbol of two decades of sobriety.
That coin will replace the one with “XIX” that I have carried in my pocket for the past year and — with luck, determination and God’s will — it will go everywhere with me for the next 365 days,
The odds stood overwhelmingly against me 20 years ago when a life-changing event drove me to attend my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous on June 6, 1994 in the basement of a Lutheran Church near the condo where Amy and I lived in Arlington, VA.
Those odds said I would backslide more than once in the beginning, falling “off the wagon” and having to start over
But I didn’t. I made a promise that night to myself, my loving but long-suffering wife and to God that I would stop drowning myself in single-malt scotch and tequila — my drugs of choice in those days — and seek a life where mornings would dawn without hangovers and days could proceed without pangs of guilt and a need to apologize for behavior under the influence of booze.
It wasn’t easy, particularly at first, but the need to stay sober ran strong in my veins and that need and a desire to walk away from the bottle provided the incentive needed to live alcohol.
Caffeine became my drug of choice and is one that continues to this day. I drink coffee from the time I get up each day until I head for bed at night.
I lost the urge to drink some years ago but I know that all it takes if one moment of weakness and the beast of alcoholism again takes control of my life.
It would be foolish to think — even for a microsecond — that I reached this milestone by myself. The love and strength of Amy, my wife of 34 years, guided me along the way along with the constant help and support of friends and fellow travelers that I know and love through AA and life,
Today, I celebrate 20 years of sobriety, and I start the journey — one day at a time — to year 21.