I’m Doug and I’m an alcoholic. One of the things I do for a living is count. I count votes. Yays, nays, neutrals, abstaining. And I’m good at it. But the most important count I do has nothing to do with work. It’s the number of days since April 4th, 1999. As of this morning that’s 5,185. The bigger that number gets, the more it frightens me because I know all it takes is one drink for that number to go back to zero.
Most people see fear as a weakness. It can be. Sometimes for my job I have to put fear in other people. I know that’s not right. But if I’m honest, like the fourth step asks us to be, I have to be ruthless. Because failure is not an option. The same goes for my sobriety. I have to be ruthless with myself. I have to use my fear. It makes me stronger.
Like everyone else in this room, I can’t control who I am. But I can control the zero.
Fuck the zero.
You know what Francis said to me when he proposed? I remember his exact words. He said, “Claire, if all you want is happiness, say no. I’m not going to give you a couple of kids and count the days to retirement. I promise you freedom from that. I promise you’ll never be bored.” You know, he was the only man—and there were a lot of others who proposed—but he was the only one who understood me. He didn’t put me on some pedestal. He knew that I didn’t want to be adored or coddled, so he took my hand and put a ring on it because he knew I’d say yes. He’s a man who knows how to take what he wants.