It seems like if you're used to doing nothing for yourself as far as recovery goes? Anything is huge. I can selfishly forget that tidbit about people or myself in recovery. So when I hear or read of someone just keeping away from that one drink for one day? Be it by fellowshipping in meetings? Or some altered 12 Step ritual? It's good. It's positive, It has to be. Why? Because when I think it's a problem well. It's my problem. I don't need to be creating problems. I have enough indecision and controversy to stimulate unwanted selfishness and fear. It's as if sure, I stopped digging my grave but I want to keep the shovel..
They are generally doing great in AA's new found safety net and certainly don't care to understand anything that would pull them from their camaraderie. That is unless of course I "pressure thump" them with what I think they should be thinking. So what, AA is really sober school and I'm the self appointed headmaster? I steer them away from what's working for them and to the chosen Big Book curriculum? I become the producer of confusion with a Big Book in my hand? A righteous co-dependent alcoholic? Then I come off as the great all knowing Stepsherpa who knows everything about everything except when to shut up and quit taking everyone's inventory who isn't like me or think what I think? Yikes! I'm not the only alcoholic in Alcoholics Anonymous? Double Yikes!
What they have is working for them. And to be honest? More than half the time I don't know what that is. And I'm not going to so, I should stop looking for an emotional security boost from others and get back to my own program. To thyne own self be true as they say. I do my best to "leave Brittany alone!" Today.
I remember as if it was five minutes ago wrapping up my initial 5th Step, the big one.. It was mid February 1983, blistering cold and snowing heavy. A pine tree at the back door was covered as my Sponsor disappeared into the pitch black about midnight. Something had changed in me. I was alone yet not alone. A spiritual shift you could say? I was different like I had never been. Not compared to a better class of friends or geographical cure anyway. It was just me. I alone had changed. It wasn't a people thing and that's what made all the difference. I felt free. Spiritual. Restored to my original self maybe.
As I stood there in the kitchen alone thinking about my Step 6 and 7 review it was early morning now.. I noticed it was clean? Odd. I don't think I ever cleaned the kitchen just for me. Oh I'd do it if people were coming over or make another pay for not taking care of it and making me look/ feel bad but just for me? Because I was worth a clean kitchen? Never. This was the new beginning. I was willing to care enough about myself to actually care for myself. I remember laughing at myself noticing a warm fire in the fireplace. I never had treated myself so good!. I thought, what next? Fold some laundry? This was nuts!
My Sponsor drove off into the night. We'd had a sometimes grueling week of six or seven hour nightly intervals. Me reading and him witnessing my extensive fearless and thorough moral inventory. My Fifth Step now complete. I had followed the specific Book directions and left no stone unturned. I had prayed to get it all down on paper. I had prayed for thoroughness and honesty. Just the Big Book 12 Steps format as written.. Not the Dr. Bob afternoon approach or the four absolutes. Not the early 6 Steps. I hadn't been studying Jung or the rise and fall of the Washingtonians. I was not a Church member and had no interest in the dynamic of the Oxford groups. I was drawn to Bills Story and that's where I stayed. In the Big Book text. I followed the hope and denied the controversy. I was in the right place at the right time. The Big Book 12 Steps were working. Soon I would find out why.
I continued on my Step work and very soon or as I got into my 9th Step and was working 10 11 and 12? Lots of other men began showing up out of nowhere looking for me as their sponsor in the work.. Hopeless most. If not down for the count then hanging on to the last enabler by an unraveling thread. Dire straights, all of them. Sure, one guy had a nice car still. Another a loving wife at home, children. Some had some money and a job. Some had absolutely nothing at all except the clothes they were wearing which was something at least. But what none of them had? What made them just like me when I got into the Big Book 12 Steps? A common thread of hopelessness. When the anesthetic was put down. The drink removed? None of them had hope. Now, I could offer them hope but they would need to generate their own. They would need to do the work..
It's not that I wouldn't mind being a tour guide really. Picking up guys and going to meetings, coffee shops, sitting in driveways talking for hours.. Having some laughs. Searching out our own better philosophy of life as it presents itself. Driving around picking a topic and voicing our grand opinions. And me with my 12 Step experience? I'll share my sober life as if it's something you can have simply by association. Do as I do and get what I got? Like, dress like I do and look like me. Only to find when I leave? I take it with me. No... There was not much to discuss anymore. We were talked out and we knew it. It was time to get down to work. We were out of time so there was none to waste. It's as if each had their own snapped noose around their neck. They had their lucky break.
As we traveled to the meetings passing around the Book. Reading the first few chapters? We all pretty much knew the life we had been living as we had been living it was a waste of time. Odd how in the trusted company of relatively new friends the outer shells came off. Identities left at the door. Once inside? All were in agreement. At our bests? Under our own power? We were nothings going nowhere. We would inevitably drink again. Nothing we were currently doing or person we were using would change that. Why? Because we had no hope. We were beaten and weak. Any spark of willingness was snuffed easily. What willingness we had, served only as a blurry line in our emotional blindness we could not cross. A semi invisible fence we all jumped many times in a fragmented moment of clarity and failed... We were hopeless, boxed in, trapped in ourselves.
The celebration of one day without one drink had faded. Most had been around AA a good few months banging out meeting after meeting. Living on the hopes of others until reality set in. The doom. Same as it ever was. Trying to not drink and living in impending doom. The alcoholic loneliness. The harsh reality hits hard as a man sits blubbering with his head in his hands wishing for the end. Hopeless really. As if powerless over life itself, we were buried alive in overwhelming problems while living without the booze. The facts were in really. Go on to the bitter end? Or try the Higher Power thing. This was a needed spark. The spiritual thing.
One by one we made our admissions. Yes we were powerless over alcohol, our lives had become unmanageable. Yes we were as the Book suggested? Beyond human aid.
A couple of us understood Step 2 right away, The willingness to believe was there.. One guy asked me to help with the wording of his 3rd Step decision. Another got on his knees with me and recited the 3rd Step prayer word for word from the Big Book as we held hands in unity. One wanted to see the Priest he had grown up with in Sunday school many years prior..Then another with me on his knees and a Big Book open to the 3rd Step prayer. And another.. Soon I had a carload of guys all in different places in their 12 Step work yet all into the Book directions.. Some were reading, some writing? Some with their own conception of a spiritual power greater then themselves and others found themselves in the security of their childhood faith seemingly picking up with a brighter attitude than where they left off years before. This was something all right here, safe. The Book said this is something that should not be missed. To watch people recover around me, to feel it myself. This was AA. The Big Book hand of AA. This was hope.
Busted by the AA police I kept my mouth shut and didn't lead with my chin. This was real progress. Worth a mention.
A couple of years had gone by. Life was good. I was still sponsoring guys (as many as I could handle) only now some of those who I originally brought through the work were sponsoring others. As the Big Book 12 Step meetings grew? So did the hand of hope to the suffering in alcoholic hopelessness. I decided to go back to an open speaker meeting I once lived for in early sobriety. I brought the half dozen guys I was working with along for some good old AA. I remembered feeling like a wonder boy there in my new found sobriety. Speaking all the time, lots of friends. I also remembered how that came to an abrupt halt once people got wind of me going to Big Book 12 Steps. I remembered how it hurt me but felt I was over it by now so. Lets head to the meeting with an attitude of patience love and tolerance. It sounded good enough anyway. But I kinda knew what we were heading into..
I got blindsided by my first sponsor as I entered the room through the smoking area cloud. The Hazelden 4th Step seven deadly sins (I'm going to be your sponsor kid) guy who I was not ready for then and still not ready for.. He got up from what looked like a pre meeting poker game and came toward me. I wanted to shake his hand but it wasn't there. Instead? In a condescending way he mentioned loudly how I was gracing everyone with my presence. How I was a Big Book thumper now and was better than everyone here. I knew right away he was full of fear. I said it's not like that at all? I just haven't been around, I've been busy.
The hall was quiet. Oh really? Busy doing what! I said I found a way to live sober in the Book and help people like myself who were hopeless. I was saying too much. Fear was trying to grip me. People, freaken people.. He was looking to win an argument but caught me. He said well, we're here to be happy joyous and free. Even the Big Book says were not supposed to be all AA every minute. I started to tilt and didn't respond.
It felt like one of those emotional arguments filled with unresolved issues that I'd seen in my Step work. My sick head. Where somehow this time I'll say something so hurtful that I'll win and be validated by pushing you well below my level. Like, oh yeah? yeah? I'm a Big Book Thumper? Well you're fat, ugly, and keep your wife home duct taped to a chair when you're at meetings!! There! Bam! You're screwed up and I'm ok! Loser. Yeah. I'll dip into the unresolved resentment vault. I'll somehow make you pay for all the resentments I have had toward you for years. Especially the ones I kept to myself and let fester.
Anyway, people were listening. Seconds ticking by. All waiting to see if I had a pistol or a nuke. Gloves or bare fist. I wanted neither. I was still pretty spiritually fit. Even though I got caught off guard I was still willing to see myself. I wasn't going to throw myself away. He was the big dog of this group making noise to keep out the threat of his own ignorance so, I let him have at it. I didn't say another word. Oh I wanted to. I wanted to say my life was good. I wanted to say I was happy and living right. Caring for myself sober, working with guys. Watching them recover. I wanted to say something but knew there was nothing to say. This guy was armed for bear. I didn't want to be a wild bear. I didn't want to hurt anybody.
The meeting was ok. Speakers going on about what it was like, what happened. what it's like now basically. Good solid open speaker stuff. Drunkalog and AA mix. Entertainment too. On the way home a couple of guys were focused on the old sponsor experience. Shooting holes in him and such. Man he's a jerk. Yeah I get it. He is certainly a jerk for sure but what was odd is we threw a few stones and stopped. Nobody wanted to hurt him, he was sick. Sick as we were sick as we can be sick still. By throwing stones we were only hurting ourselves.
Another guy in the car said he was just full of fear and felt sorry for anyone he sponsored. Probably threatened by something he had no experience with. At least he didn't drink so far today. Others reluctantly agreed. Another said this reminds him of the "we talked of intolerance while intolerant ourselves" thing in the Book. There was silence. We had all seen ourselves. Our self esteem boost when we jumped to being better than him. How we ourselves were still prone to worshipping people for our self esteem. One guy said lets pray he be shown the same patience as we've been shown or are being shown right now. Nothing big really just let him see himself as we are seeing ourselves. Lets offer him hope.
The night was over. A guy getting dropped off said well? Thanks for the meeting you guys! As much as we are all supposed to be Mighty Mighty Big Book Thumpers? AA is still all about what it was like, what happened and what it's like now. We laughed in gratitude at the gift of humility. We all had faced life successfully sober for another day. It was a good night. We were honest with ourselves and felt the psychic change offered in the Steps. We had solved the drink problem again. We had hope. Lots of hope. We felt it in ourselves and shared it with each other.