Charlie and me

Steps to Recovery

Step 1 in the grieving process for my friend and sponsor, Charlie G. Please help me understand and accept death as a vital part of life, ever changing and growing. By working the steps with Charlie’s support and guidance I’ve come to see my powerlessness in pretty much everything and now, death.

I depended on him as my Higher Power at first, because I didn’t have a relationship with One. We’d meet at homes, work places, coffee shops and fishing holes for step work and friendship. He encouraged me to go to conventions and retreats for my own recovery and the recovery of my marriage.

He encouraged me, supported me and loved me unconditionally for all those months leading up to a relapse. I lied to him and everyone else about my ½ measuring. He was the first one there with an open hand up, Total acceptance. Thank you, Charlie,  my Higher Power, and always “one day at a time”.

Even when his marriage was falling apart, he was always there with a quiet word of support and encouragement. I try to emulate him by giving it back and paying it forward. I never heard him say no but would suggest not spreading myself too thin.

By his example and my own working the program, I’ve learned how to balance my home and family life with my recovery. The last few years at work and since, I’ve made some really great friends who I would never have considered before recovery. Charlie was friendly with everyone. I never heard him mean mouth anyone even if they were hurting him.

He always encouraged me to share my recovery, ever keeping in mind the idea of and the need for anonymity. He showed me by example how to reach out. Thanks.

Step 2 shows me how insane my thinking can be. By accepting his passing as the absolute best possible outcome for his life, that is the road back to sanity and serenity. My Higher Power does nothing by mistake and understanding that, I can better accept death as the right end of a life fully lived. RIP Charlie.

Another sign of sanity is accepting with joy, the love of life and everything in it, the good and seemingly not so good, as needed for my own recovery. I can easily ask the God of my understanding what He would like me to do. His will, not my boundary jumping. My Higher Power helps me identify my shortcomings and gives me directions on how to do just the opposite. Charlie was a master at that. Quietly showing me by example how to do just what God wants me to do and be.

Self-knowledge and my own free will are what got me into trouble in the first place. Swearing that the next insane act would fix all my issues and save the day. God opens the door to recovery and lets sane thinking begin again. Little by little, with lots of practice, sanity prevails.

I’m learning to accept the facts of my Higher Power doing everything perfectly. Including removing Charlie’s suffering and taking him to a better place. [I accept “a better place” as truth, Jack.] That’s enough of a spiritual experience for today. Thanks God.

In Step 3 I’ve decided to give my self and my will to the God of my understanding. That’s the same Power who stuck with us right to the very end. All through his life, up to and including the heart attack, the strokes and death. The Power that makes the grieving more bearable. One day, one hour, one moment at a time. 

With such a Higher Power in my life, I see my thoughts and actions tend to be less self-seeking and more towards what I can do for my fellows. Some times I would like to just crawl into my self and hide. My God allows me a short break every now and then, and then the phone rings. Back into His world. For this, I can never be sufficiently grateful. 

In working with step 4, I see where I was resentful at Charlie because he let go and died. I know he had learned all he needed and there was no reason to hang around. I just wish he did, at times, less often now. 

I’m also resentful at God, sometimes, for taking Charlie away from us. I often forget, God does not make mistakes. With the guidance and support of my Higher Power, I understand I am a big kid and can stand on my own two feet. 

I’m selfish in that I wanted Charlie to stay so I wouldn’t feel bad about myself and my loss. And I could say to myself, what a good boy I am, going over to the hospital or out to the home to visit. Some BS there. I mostly visited because he was my friend and that’s what I wanted to do as a friend for a friend. 

I was also afraid of being alone [lonely] and losing my sobriety and not being able to stay in recovery.  Charlie was also the founder and a mainstay in the Millvale Group and it may not recover from that loss.

First things first; with my Higher Power with me,” I’m never alone”. I am only lonely when I isolate so I can get on the phone, go for coffee with my fellows, talk to my wife and kids; be part of the fellowship of recovery and of man.

 As for losing my sobriety, death, even one so close and dear Is Not an excuse or a reason for acting out. I can just hear him now; “You better write a 4th on that and give it to me in the morning”. Staying in Recovery, working this Program is the only option. All else Failed.

If we stay in recovery and work the program the Millvale Group will also recover and be good for another 30 years. There are lots of us who can and will step up and help God fill the void left by Charlie’s passing.

God grant me the serenity and the strength to do my part. Thanks, Jack T.