The Power of 10 has been a part of my life for well over two and a half decades. It started when I hit the lowest and loneliest part of my life. It started when I could no longer imagine a life with alcohol, but I also couldn’t imagine a life without it.
Why the Power of 10? When I quit drinking some people told me just to quit for the day. They said that surely I could stay sober for one day. I never answered them because I knew I couldn’t stay sober for that long. Not having any alcohol in me for 24 hours terrified me. I had gotten to a point where I could not function without it. I eventually gave up eating anything of substance and lived on a liquid diet. Quitting drugs was easy, but alcohol would be a battle, literally for my life.
I slept with a six pack of beer on the nightstand next to my bed. I had a a can of beer and a cup of coffee for breakfast and had a six pack of beer on my ride to work, which was only six miles from my home. At lunch time, I’d drive those six miles back home, consume some more beer, then have a couple more beers for lunch, then drive back to work drinking some more.
So the idea of quitting just for today was inconceivable. So, I came up with an idea, I could quit drinking for ten minutes. I knew I could do that because on the rare occasions when I ran out of beer, it took me ten minutes to drive to the liquor store to replenish my stock. And that is how my sobriety started – in ten minute intervals.
At that time, I work as a maintenance manager at a church and school, so I could find time to disappear and be myself during times of withdrawals and cold sweats. I’d look at my watch. 3 minutes down 7 minutes to go! As I got closer to that ten minute mark, I’d begin feeling a sense of accomplishment and celebrated with the idea that if I could do it once, I can do it again! And another 10 minute sobriety was started. The highlight of my day, came at bedtime. I knew that when I woke up I’d have 48 more sobriety celebrations under my belt.
This is how my sobriety started. It was my sobriety for the first two weeks of my new life. Then it expanded to half-hour celebrations, then hours. It took me a month before I felt confident enough to believe that I could stay sober for 24 hours.
At this time, I was separated from my wife, Janice. I lived in a mobile home, behind on a gas station, right next to Interstate 80. I had no close neighbours and what friends I had were more like drinking buddies than true friends. Which at the time was perfect, it gave me the strength to find my Higher Power and to build a strong foundation based on the 12 Steps.
One of the things I did was to place a large poster board on a pantry door in the kitchen. On it I wrote dates that meant something along my journey. Also down in the lower right corner were dates where I had a spiritual awakening by living this new life.
The first entry on that board? It said 9/4/94 1 Day 135 pounds. My first day of sobriety and my weight when I started. Next entry was 9/11/94 1 week. I didn’t do my weight change all the time but I did keep track of anniversaries. 9/14/94 10 days. Every day of sobriety was a day to celebrate and this was my way of remembering the journey it took to get me to that point. One month, two months, three months, 100 days. 150 pounds, 170 pounds, by the end of that first year 185 pounds.
Coincidentally, I still live by The Power of Ten. During my 10th year of sobriety, my first two books were publish, then during the 10th year of the 21st century the Purple Power CD was released.
The Power of 10 started my journey into a life without alcohol or drugs. The 12 Steps strengthened the journey and gave me a foundation to live my life. It made me reach for stars and made some of my dreams turn into reality. A third book was written and second CD was produced. Speaking at recovery events, as well as a lecturer to a University Masters Psychology Class. My writings on the 12 Promises of AA, have been used at a SAA convention in Melbourne, Australia.
My profile has been published in the USA Voices In Recovery Program, as well as my poetry being used by individuals for different photography exhibits. And poems written about cancer have been used around the world for different fund-raising events. As well as recovery poems being read at recovery events throughout America.
All in all it has been a good life in sobriety all because of ten minutes. And today, I write on my imaginary poster board – 20 January 2022 – 10,000 days sober. Ten thousand days… and it all started with ten minutes.