This evening, I will rise to speak at a meeting and say:

“Hi, my name is Doug and I’m an alcoholic. It’s been exactly 17 years since my last drink.”

Each June 6, I seek out a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, announce the anniversary of my sobriety, and receive a chip with the number of years that I’ve avoided giving into the beast.

I took the first of 12 steps in a church basement in Arlington, Virginia, on June 6, 1994 — the 50th anniversary of D-Day — the allied invasion of Normandy that marked the beginning of the end of the European Theater of World War II.

June 6 has been my personal D-Day since then. Each June 6 bring another successful standoff with the beast.

As an alcoholic, a standoff is the best I can expect. No one is ever cured of alcoholism. No one wins the battle. At best, we keep the beast at bay — one day at a time.

It hasn’t been easy. I can’t pretend it was. I’ve come close to backsliding too many times but I’ve stayed sober through faith, the help of friends and the unwavering love and support from Amy — my friend, my lover and my wife. Without her, my battle with the beast would have been lost.  Others — whose privacy must be respected — were key players and to all I owe my eternal thanks and love.

On Friday morning, a group of fellow travelers will gather at the iHOP in Salem, climb aboard our motorcycle, and begin the journey to Akron, Ohio, for Founder’s Day — the 76th Anniversary of the Founding of AA.  It will be weekend of prayer, fellowship and gratitude for the self-organization that helps us each and every day in our battle of the beast.

Seventeen years. Like each of the years that preceded, it marks 365 days — 366 in leap years — of facing down the beast one day at a time.

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