When I was in elementary school, we used to spend part of the summer at a house in the country owned by my grandmother and aunt. It had a wide porch for playing house, and a huge tree with a rope swing. The best part of that time, though, was swimming in the brook. It was clear and cold and generations of kids had piled up rocks to make a dam for a swimming hole. It was heaven on a hot day.
There was one problem with the brook, though. We crossed the corner of a pasture in order to get there, and the pasture was inhabited by a bull. We had long debates about how to get by him. Run fast, creep slowly, wait until it was really hot and hope he was asleep, or go early in the morning. It never occurred to us to just stay on the other side of the fence.
I dealt with my addiction the way we dealt with the bull. Only drink on weekends, drink the first drink really slowly, alternate with water or soda, wait until just before bed... it never occurred to me to just not drink.
Now I use the fellowship and the steps to get me past the bull. A good fence is strong, with closely spaced posts and rails between them. If I only get to one or two meetings a week, the posts are too far apart and my addiction starts looking at me over the fence. If I don’t pray regularly, talk to my sponsor and other alcoholics and addicts, and pass along what I’ve learned, the rails aren’t strong enough to keep the bull away from me.
Sometimes the bull is sleeping at the other end of the pasture, but if he’s riled up, I want a strong fence between us. Sometimes my addiction feels dormant, but I know that on any given day the stresses of life can upset my balance and make me vulnerable. When that happens, I don’t want to be standing alone in the field. I want to have the steps, the fellowship and my higher power between me and the danger.