Sixteen years

Later today, I will enter a meeting room at a church in Roanoke for a gathering of fellow travelers and utter the same nine words that I have said on this date for the past 15 years: “Hi, my name is Doug and I’m an alcoholic.”

June 6 is D-Day for the rest of the world because it recognizes the anniversary of the brutal land assault that signaled the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe.

It’s my D-Day for another reason: On June 6, 1994, I took my my first of many long steps to end my dependence on booze. Today is the 16th anniversary of my sobriety. As I have done for each June 6th for the previous years, I consult a list maintained by Alcoholic Anonymous and attend an AA meeting to mark another milestone is a long, never-ending battle with the beast.

I also always mark the anniversary by publicly discussing my addiction.

The Eleventh Tradition of AA says we work through attraction rather than promotion. AA does not have a “national spokesman” and all of us who participate are encouraged to maintain the anonymity of our battle with the beast and our involvement with the program. I chose “breaking anonymity” on the first anniversary of my sobriety 15 years ago as part of my way of dealing with my addiction. It was a personal decision and I speak about my alcoholism as an individual, not as a member of AA and certainly not as a spokesman or representative of the group.

Without AA, I would not be alive today. Without AA, the beast would have won.

My name is Doug and I’m an alcoholic. I’ve been sober 16 years. On Monday, I start my journey toward a 17th year…one day at a time.

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