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  • Jeff Graham

and then the shots rang out....

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

I wasn’t there but ‘What if?’


I know that attending a baseball game can be tough for us newer in sobriety. I know that the smells, the sights and the sounds of the ballpark will wake up every self-destructive craving inside of me, with an alert that the ‘big guy’ is going to be vulnerable tonight, ‘let’s attack, tonight we can once again get him to drink!’ But I am ready for them.


These are the types of events in which my recovery is tested. But today, I am at a point in my recovery in which I can now embrace and once again live these nights. The hard work has paid off, the tool bag has been filled with what I need to not only survive in the world again, but really thrive in the world again! When I have an event coming up such as a baseball game with family and friends, I know what to prepare for, and I make sure my playbook is ready to handle the outing.


I am prepared and rehearsed to handle the offering of a beer. I am prepared and rehearsed to handle the celebration of winning the ballgame or mourning the loss of a close competition. I am ready for all the temptations that I might face. All of the possible situations that could ever occur that night have been accounted for, and a plan has been put into place to handle them head on, or to wisely retreat to a safe place. Whatever the night brings, I am ready for it, and that is how I stay sober today!


But what happens when the shots ring out?


No one could have predicted that an evening at the ballpark with family and friends could EVER have brought about the emotions of that night. In all the planning for a night out on the town, I never would have added the events of that night into my bag of ‘what ifs’. Who in their right mind would have added ‘bullets flying over my head’ to the list of possible situations I would see that night next to ‘1/2 price beer night at the ballpark!’ My worst-case scenarios for the evening never would have included sprinting to the car with my head low, dragging some children crying from the confusion. Only Chicken Little could have ever foreseen that one!


But ‘what ifs’ happen. And when they do, we can get bombarded with emotions from every possible direction. It scares me when I realize that my boring little life, secure in the hopes that I have fortified my sobriety well, will unfortunately be rocked by a ‘big one’ that I never could have seen coming. My question is, how will I handle it? How will I react when an evening such as a baseball game rolling along perfectly gets interrupted with gunfire? When my nerves are shot, when I am a complete quivering mass of nerves gone wild, and emotions firing in every possible direction, how will I respond? What will my reaction be when ‘Dr. Budweiser’s Magic Elixir” is staring at me with it’s outstretched 12 oz aluminum hand offering to take away all the hysteria bouncing around in my head, and settle my nerves?


I wish I had the answers to this, but I don’t. If I knew that surefire solution to a scenario such as this, I would practice it daily. But who prepares for an invasion of aliens from space except for those……….I guess all I can do is pray that if/when the days like this occur, my practice and rehearsals for life pay off enough, and will have given me enough of the tools to survive the storm. I can tell myself this though, if I don’t prepare for as much as I can possibly foresee, I am destined to fail. I may not be able to predict today’s many splendid ‘gifts’, but if I prepare for as many as I can, I stand a better chance of waking up sober tomorrow!


Unfortunately, ‘what ifs’ are going to happen. Some we can predict, but many are going to hit us blindsided with a lot of force. How I handle mine is something that time will tell, but I have to prepare for their arrival. It’s not a matter of ‘if’ they show up in my life, it’s ‘when’ they show up,


Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!!

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