We have ceased fighting anything or anyone – even alcohol.
~ Step 10 promises, pg. 84 Big Book
I am ready for October to begin and fall too! I love the crispier nip in the air and cooler nights to sleep. I think in a past life I might have been a bear because I sure love to hibernate! I slow down in the cooler seasons and sleep so much better. I suspect I am not the only one. One thing AA has taught me is that I am not unique. Dang. That shoots the ego all to heck. There is a list of promises and a prayer in most of the steps. I will go through these and how they apply to my life this month. They are on the bottom of page 84 if you want to read along. Feel free to comment and share your own experience, strength and hope.
The fight against alcohol was removed before I got here. I consider mine to be an “oh wow” spiritual experience. Some might consider it crazy. But, a voice said to me which sounded like my brother’s voice, “don’t you think you have had enough?” And, I heard it loud and clear. For the first time in my life, I did not drink the whole thing. I put it down. Actually it was 4 tumblers full of Peppermint Schnapps, on ice. The bar had announced a last call for alcohol. That was always my cue to get a big supply before I had no more to get. I had no intention of walking away from alcohol that night, but I did. I don’t remember how I got back to the motel, whether or not I drove, who I was with, or what happened to my son that night, but I woke up and never looked back. I had had enough. I ceased fighting alcohol. The end was just a beginning.
Rather, I do whatever is in front of me to be done, and leave the results up to Him; however it turns out, that’s God’s will for me.
~ pg. 452, Big Book, 3rd edition
I love the Big Book. It is as if someone followed me around and wrote down all my thoughts and experiences. I always thought that I was so unique and special, that people just could not figure me out. After all, wasn’t I more clever and smarter than them? ha ha. The Big Book reminds us all that we are pretty ordinary and predictable in our collective dis-ease. How we reacted to the influence alcohol had over us is pretty much same ole same ole. In all my years, I have not heard many extraordinary stories of the chaos we created while using. I have however heard fabulous and unique stories of recovery, and how people have creatively learned to live soberly and productively. Now, that is something to talk about!
I love this story the most because the situations and relationships did not change so much as the perception, and that is exactly what AA is all about: changing our perception of things. How we act and react is all we need to know about. When sponsees seem lost and unsure of themselves, I suggest they look down at their shoes. That is exactly where they ar,e and where they are going. We are moving toward recovery, or we are moving toward that next drunk. Doing the next best thing keep us focused on the direction our shoes are pointed. Whatever is in front of us, is what we do next. It is that simple. Stop complicating things. Breathe in the freedom of sobriety. Your G.O.D. has got this.
My brain whirled. I might have done terrible things, and I wouldn’t even know it.
~ pg. 223 Big Book, 3rd Edition
Perhaps one of the most frightening aspects of drinking for me and countless others was the “black out” drinking. I would awaken to strangers, in scary places I would never go to sober, with no car, no money, and no memory of how I got there, and what had occurred. This makes making amends particularly difficult, and that is why I say amends may never be completed. Every now and then, I will recall an instance from the past. It will come in a dream, or when I am ill and feverish. I guess that is because I am more vulnerable and susceptible to such thoughts. Some folks experience “using” dreams. That happened more frequently when I was first sober.
When I do have the clarity of mind and do remember some harm I have done to myself and others, then I can act on the amends immediately. I find it wise to walk through the memory with a sponsor, write about it, and pray for the right words and actions to take. I need to forgive my younger self for putting me in harm’s way and doing things that I would never in sobriety even consider. Step 9 is a healing component in sobriety, and not one to take lightly. Be kind and gentle with yourself, heed those dreams, and continue to live each moment doing the best you can with what you have. New things will be revealed. This I promise.
Amazingly, God did for me what I could not do for myself. I was to ask,
using steps 9, 10, 11 and 12 on a daily basis. ~ Anon
If AA were a treatment center, steps 1, 2, and 3 would be the emergency room. Where a lot of detox, testing and surveying goes on to assess the problem and decide on a treatment plan. Steps 4-9 could be considered inpatient treatment. Where there is direct supervision to work the steps, a protected environment, and an ongoing treatment program, the ground is being laid for a lifetime of recovery. Steps 10-12 then could be considered outpatient treatment. The alcoholic is out in the community with the freedom to choose when to go to meetings, do daily work toward a better way of living, and hopefully becomes involved in the AA community in his/her own right.
I never went to treatment, but I need to add the word “yet” to that sentence. I do not plan to go back to drinking. I suspect that I do have few a few more drunks in me; but I don’t think I have another recovery left in me. That keeps me sober. AA is a lot like the Mafia. You know too much to leave! I thank goodness and the universe that 2 drunks got together and decided it would be smart to help each other get/stay sober. It is a simple program, but some of us are too smart to enjoy it. Be teachable. Invite HP in and enjoy the ride. You will love it some day.
There are no mistakes; only learning opportunities. ~ Anon
I am off to get a new (to me) car. It has been nearly 20 years since I bought a car, so I am a bit rusty. I match my rusty old car! ha ha. What will make this different is I no longer just muddle through. I process and try to learn as I go. I am more interested in not having a debt load; than in fashion and style. Comfort over razzle dazzle appeals to me now. Simple things like a/c, auto windows, front wheel drive, etc. are far more important than rather or not I have the latest stereo system installed. It may be age, but I would like to think a stronger spiritual life is involved.
I thank AA and sponsorship for encouraging me to use tradition #7 in all of my personal affairs. Without that, I would not have most of the cash to pay for this newer car. I am still wondering how much to pay and rather or not to buy a warranty. That has all been handed to HP. “The answers will come, if our own house is in order.” Well, the promises in step #9 are evolving in my life. In my case, slowly, not quickly. But, they are surely coming to be. I look forward to having some secure wheels under me in the future. I may make a few mistakes in this deal, but I will learn from them. Perhaps in 20 years, I will be back at the dealership to practice these steps in all of my affairs. Don’t be afraid of mistakes. They will teach you.
There are some wrongs that we can never fully right.
We don’t worry about them if we can honestly say to ourselves that we would
right them if we could. ~ Big Book, pg. 83
I think we can all say that we have some wrongs that can never be righted. We cannot think our way into right actions, but we can act our ways into right thinking. I call that living amends. I have a few people who after saying they forgave me, went on to grow whole new resentments toward me that then blew up into irreparable situations. I am powerless over other people’s opinions of me and on how they respond to amends. There comes a time when enough is enough. I won’t know until I get further down the road, but letting go of other people’s side of the street feels a whole lot more liberating then being knocked around for what I already amended.
There is no point, in my opinion, to beat a dead horse. What is done is done. I had a person from my distant past try to make amends to me this weekend. I had not seen or heard from her in over 22 years. After she apologized 5 times, during the 6th revisit, I told her that I needed for her to let go of it and stop apologizing. I was in such a bad way back then, that I had not even noticed the slight. I was just trying to survive, and had absolutely no energy for anyone else’s slight. We got to the other end of that conversation where both of us felt okay. I must say, I held not grudges then or now. Life is too short. So, there are some wrongs we cannot right, try as we may. Let’s just do today well. Live well, be well, and move on.
The more wisdom you attain, and the more conscious you become, the crazier you will appear to others. ~ Buddha
There is wisdom in knowing, but still being open to learning. We must remain teachable. When we are suffering the pains in our own lives, the best cure is to pick up the phone or go visit a friend in program, and ask him/her how life is treating them. When we reach beyond ourselves and empathize with others, we forget for a moment our own issues. Actually, talking with another alcoholic gives us introspection and insight into how our own problems can be solved. You will be amazed how this works.
The most qualified person to help an alcoholic is another alcoholic. We are uniquely qualified to understand how small, innocuous issues can seem like huge mountains to sort through. We are uniquely qualified to understand the obsession of the mind that craves the very things that cause us the greatest level of pain. We are also uniquely qualified to be the voice of recovery that the person in pain needs to hear; and possibly will be the only voice that they can hear in all their confusion. Call someone else today and just ask how life is treating them. Listen. They may just have that message you need to hear. That is how it works.