My Higher Power Did Not Abandon Me

In December of 1999, I was 10 years sober in SA and working for a defense contractor. It was the era of Millennium bug, and no one knew what sort of effect the change of millennia would have on computer systems (the answer: not much). To help out in this effort, I was sent from my home in Maryland to Tampa, Florida to assist U.S. Special Operations Command with documenting their Y2K compliance.

This was the first time I had ever gone away for an extended length of time by myself, and I was a bit fearful about this prospect. My wife would not be coming with me; I would visit her on a few weekends, but she was only able to come to Tampa once. It made for an emotional Christmas, the first time I ever “came home” for the holiday. When I returned to Tampa, I rang in the new millennium at a party hosted by another S-fellowship.

I had to adjust to a lot of things: staying at a hotel alone, figuring out my per diem, making my own meals so I didn’t have to go out for dinner all the time, learning the lay of the land, avoiding the abundant triggersome locales, and so forth. I had to surrender the nagging feeling I had that my presence there did not matter to anyone. I also had to pray for the pretty lady coworker who came down with me; I knew nothing would be gained by spending time with her, but that didn’t mean I had no desire to do so.

I made lots of phone calls to SA members back home, running up a bill of hundreds of dollars. Eventually I obtained a cell phone which helped considerably both in price and convenience. Those calls helped keep me sane. I was part of the SANet email list, another way to stay connected to the fellowship in the days long before phone or Zoom meetings. I also tried to carry the message to others whom I encountered.

Weekends (other than those spent back at home) were the greatest challenge for me because I had no idea of what to do with myself. I had time on my hands and no one to spend it with. All I knew was that I was going to find nothing but lust by staying put in my room. While I did not have my TV removed, I did return the remote control to the front desk. I talked it over with the base chaplain who admitted to having the same issue of aloneness, and told him about SA as well. At his suggestion, I began taking walks through various state parks. I avoided the really touristy areas and enjoyed the flora and fauna of west central Florida. I joined a community choir and appreciated having something to look forward to during the week. God was giving me what I needed, if not what I wanted.

Speaking of things to look forward to, I cannot possibly write this without a hat tip to the members of the Thursday night SA meeting in Lakeland, about an hour away from where I was staying. I did not miss a single meeting while I was there, and I clung to it like a shipwreck survivor to a life ring. It kept me focused on recovery during this difficult time. There were no SA meetings in the Tampa Bay area back then, although I did meet a member who had just relocated to a northern suburb for his retirement, and had informal meetings with him and another interested SA, often in my hotel room. On some weekends I would drive to meetings in the northern suburbs of Orlando or even over to Daytona Beach or Titusville on the Atlantic coast. Finally, I managed to fly up to the January Nashville “Together 2000” convention.

My work tour was supposed to last until the end of March, but I was instead sent home early that month, meaning I would not be able to perform with the choir at a famous music hall. Within two weeks of returning to Maryland from Florida, I was laid off because the follow-on work the contractor expected from Y2K never materialized. That led to several months of unemployment, but just as with my Florida sojourn, my Higher Power saw me through it.

One of the first things my first sponsor said to me was, “One of these days, you will realize you are never alone.” It may not have always felt that way in Tampa, but when I look back on that time, I see how Higher Power definitely had me in His care. I was able to do what I did not think I was capable of doing, and He did not abandon me.

Paul T., Nevada, USA

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