My Fourteenth Birthday


Today I turned fourteen. December 8, 2003 was my first day clean and sober.

It may surprise some people to hear that after I got sober my life got worse. I lost all my friends (barfly’s actually.) I wound up homeless, which never happened while I was drinking. My life was in ruins as I watched others who got sober at the time moving forward. It was six months after getting sober when I spent ten days in a psych ward. I didn’t understand what was wrong. I didn’t understand because I didn’t know I had bipolar disorder.

I reached a point that I knew something was wrong mentally, though I didn’t know what. I tried to go the county mental health clinic, but was turned away because I was “too high functioning.” Yes, I was living on the streets dragging my duffle bag around all day, and standing in the food lines at churches. Yes, I had all that going on, yet I was too high functioning.

Despite how terrible it felt, it’s my sobriety that saved me. Without being sober, I would not have sought the help I needed, I would not have kept going back to one county clinic after another, I would not have begun demanding the help I needed…and finally got.

I shouldn’t be here today. I used to look at the homeless lying under park benches and envied them. I could tell they had completely given up and were just waiting to die. But one day I realized that’s not what I wanted. My therapist told me he couldn’t help me if my brain was friend every time I walked through his door. In his words, he told me, “Get the fuck out of my office and go to an A.A. meeting.” He then pulled out a directory and a bus guide. The directory told him where the next AA meeting was, and he gave me the bus guide so I knew how to get there.

That evening was the first time I stepped into a meeting. The speaker had a very strong accent so I couldn’t understand a word she said, but I sat there and cried. My face was soaked. Even though I couldn’t understand her, I knew it was exactly where I belonged.

Miracles do happen.

Where you can find an A.A. meeting near you.

9 comments on My Fourteenth Birthday

  1. Congratulations! That’s a great accomplishment. It has definitely been a major factor in helping you change your life for the better. I’m happy for you and proud of you.

  2. I’m a bit behind, but please accept my belated congratulations! While I have not been there myself, I can understand that the first step is the hardest, and every day is a struggle. Good for you for staying strong and sticking with sobriety.

    1. Thank you, Iggy. That first step is the hardest. It’s accepting that willpower is not the answer. Every day can be a struggle, especially for th9se knew to the program. Fortunately after 14 years it’s not such a big deal, but I have to be vigilant and don’t become complacent in my sobriety.

  3. I love AA! If I go to meetings, sponsor other men and stay in service to others, I get to enjoy the gift of bipolar. If I don’t do these simple things, then I’m at risk for the disorder dimension. They told me it was a simple program. They showed me that it was a simple program. Then, through pain and suffering, I came to learn that it is a simple program. I did not know that it would one day apply to this other life long problem that I had.

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