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Big Book 12 Steps ( Redemption )

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 In the last say, 10 years of the downward slide into my alcoholic abyss? Late teens to late twenties? It seemed the alcohol was what kept the slide wet. Outside issues made the alcohol look to be the problem. I drink, I'm a drunk and not much else. Later, in AA when I put the alcohol down I saw myself differently, yet the same coping skills were apparent. Same foundation different house..  It was obvious once I cleared up a bit that this "B head movie" I starred in went farther back, way back. I was broken into fragments early on in life, emotionally fractured and leaking badly. It was tears that kept the downward slide wet from the beginning. Before the alcohol there was the extreme sensitivity. Yeah! What she said! I'm overly sensitive! More infomercials, still no picture. 

The familiar emotional pit of despair seemed endless, bottomless. I knew it well. The nothingness. My life in the walk in closet. I was used to nothing in the midst of everything. My only self help seemed to be settling for a new low when I could. Acceptance. Go ahead self, bring on the familiar, there is security there because whatever life brings will never work for me and atleast I am used to it. Daydreams turn to nightmares. I always seem to end up here waiting for the parade, waiting for the happiness float but never seeing it when it comes, when others say it's beautiful. I can only see through a clouded mind, dripping with self pity. I know this place. This is home. I watch the world go by with my two associates, guilt and shame and the occasional devastating drive by from killer regret..

I can be the victim, well masked on an underdogs stage, stabilized in a new crisis for a time while seemingly fighting the good fight. I find security in the same old same old where losing is winning because losing is surviving. I survived! On survivor island? I am king. I will rest in my self centered delusion. Wander around in the chaos, above it all, watching from a third party perspective. As if from a distance I am the star of a movie. When reality knocks again? I am afraid to answer the door. The audience yells at the screen DON'T ANSWER THE DOOR!! But I do anyway and I fail, I am dead. My rise to stardom was again very short. The best I can do is create another movie and hope to sidestep the reality part by prolonging the emotional battle scene until a new arrangement? A better decision? Where I am once again the star and lives till the end? Nope. I become the producer of confusion with the best of intensions, Busting out on screen harder, settling for less and less, sooner...What happens to a movie where the star dies in the first part? The rest of it just fades away. Hardly worth the memory.

  Shaking sweating, the anxious mind always racing. I had bottomed out again with only one option to console myself in my reoccurring bondage. The familiar ending I look to once the vicious spiral begins. Get it over with. One option left to justify my overwhelming fear. I would fabricate new blame to somehow create a new and final ending to the familiar haunting unresolved episodes of my past. My never ending story. Invite the group as the committee in my head gains momentum as a last ditch effort to validate myself. OK I admit it! I am selfish! Frustrated dictator! God like creator! I would say NO! It was me who left her! No you don't understand. Those people were really screwed up! Again I am the victim of circumstance!

It's them! It's all their fault! Anyone can see. Anyone. Raising my self esteem by lowering others. Raised voice, intimidating puffed out chest. I will take you down, it's what I do, it's all I do. My extreme self centeredness on high alert, the fear that could be classed with stealing described in the Big Book4th Step? It is here. Oh yeah, I'm in control now, keep your eye on the walnut shell... 

All the while as I pull it all down to my level, you think I'm focused on them and their defects, when it's you I am stealing from. Success! I was empty and alone but not anymore, it's "you and me" against them now. As if you just co-signed an emotional loan. Provided me with security. So I take. When your spirit is depleted and you are empty and insecure? You will agree, co-sign me, yes it is everyone else's fault.  If I am good at the manipulative transition? You may not even notice you're missing. You may not realize you are now mine. My hostage. You may as well be duct taped to a chair.

I will hold on to your stolen security for you, your spirit. You will "need me" to get it back. You will know what it is to feel as I do, to be dominated.

I will show you how to accept security in the familiar.  You are like me now. Extreme. Desperate. Empty. A new friend is needed yet I am all there is now.   You ask yourself why this is all happening? How did you get here? You can't seem to understand what you have done to deserve this hopelessness and may choose to run for your life but...the damage is done. I have taken everything, even the willingness to run away, your resources are now limited to only what I think is best for you. I have your courage now and am keeping it for myself, you can't run forward without it. Unless maybe? You can find an enabler? Secret squirrel? Daddy? Old boyfriend or the like? No, you're trapped in my hopelessness. You can only run backward and most times? You yourself may have to rely on your delusion. You may find you had been running already, before me, and there is really no going back. Now "you" are sick, you are nothing too. So, you stay. It's sick, I'm sick, you're sick, but you stay anyway. It's the place of least resistance. It is better than the nothing. I am one step above the nothing and yes, one step is better than nothing..

The extremes. Forcing others to understand my plight was my extreme selfishness. Altering them, changing their perspective, stealing their emotional security to balance my extreme self centeredness. Make them see things my way so my life is livable. Like me so I can like myself. The selfishness I wasn't even aware of. All I ever saw was others retaliation. Again, making it them and never me. Nobody understands me when I have so much love to give. I see myself as a misunderstood victim to the world....the universe.

Even as the consummate victim I could nolonger escape into multiple endings, I could nolonger anesthetize myself with sympathetic arrangement. There was nothing left to use. Nothing to sugar coat. The fear became so great I could no longer create. Nothing made any sense anymore. The people were gone, the cosigners, the easily manipulated new batch of friends I would meet on any number of geographical cures. I could hope to live on blame, hope to find comfort wallowing in my self-pity, try to find new material to support my selfish arrangements. But even to me? It was absurd to even try. I was trapped. It was over.

So there it is, whatever it is, banging on my mind everyday, clanging on my self imposed steel trap. Forcing itself one way only into my head through my broken door. I had no defense, no security. I was powerless really. I would give up easy and just let them in. Whoever. Whatever. It would never leave.. Flash your multi-pass and go ahead and kill me. Kill me in my sleep? My nightmares? Na, no such luck. I would not die. I only hurt myself just enough to render me useless in any form of self reliance, it didn't take much now to complete the circle. I wasn't just going nowhere, I "was" nowhere..

Even the power of anger, my old buddy hate? I couldn't hate myself enough. All the hate I could muster was not enough to overcome them or me. The anger, resentment. It was just a filler, a reprieve. At one time I could live on the power of hate? Now? It didn't do anything except maybe offer a temporary diversion. As much as I hated people who betrayed me for being in my head? I hated myself because I couldn't get away from it all anymore. Hate kept up to speed nomatter my escape plan. It had become permanent, lost it's power, it's rush was gone. What now, what comes after hate? I didn't know but just assumed it was madness.. I was who I was. I was madness. I was alive and breathing sure. But in full flight from reality. I had flown and convinced myself I was never coming back. I had nothing to come back to. Yes, this was madness.

As if I had nowhere to land and was circling endlessly at realities mile marker waiting for the opportunity that could nolonger arrive. The impending doom, I am going to run out of fuel and fall. Nothing will save me. I rely on nothing, I hope for nothing. Nothing is all I have. And nothing is well.. nothing is just nothing.

 So, yes. I did eventually fall to earth. No epic crash and burn. It may even have been a Tuesday. Insignificant time or place but it was clear, I was done, whatever I had been was finished. I would never again rely on a repaint and stage presentation, never reconstruct a new me.   I had become a scattered mass of emotional debris. My insides exposed. My outsides still burning.  Even my mind which was amazingly intact had rotted and needed replacement, this appeared to be the origin, the cause. There was nothing that wasn't scratched or dented, most of myself had been destroyed or severely decayed long before the fall and what was left exposed to any emotional elements? Was deteriorating rapidly. This wasn't a rescue or even salvage operation. No, It was a tear down. All I had been and all that remained? my everything? my existence?  Was just a mess to be cleaned up. A dirty footprint to scrub. It was clear. If I live? I needed a clean canvas. So, bring in the dumpster. Bring in the 12 Steps. I am willing. I give up.

 

Now...I understand being skeptic. I get that if it hasn't been your experience it may be difficult to believe nomatter what it is. Especially in the addiction recovery world  there are so many variations of the 12 Steps and selfishness and fear are still the norm. Many ways of surviving/recovering. These days the only thing that seems to put people on the same page is the temporary fix offered with talk therapy, everything from positive affirmations to argument and debate. Talking, voicing. Jockeying for a secure position, struggling to be heard validated... Empower yourself with winning scientific facts? Or, just kill it with kindness and overcome it that way..  Overwhelm it, intellectualize it, control it, anything but surrendering it.. Even the Higher Spiritual Power concept suggested can be anything from childlike dream away silliness to not the right religious God.  So that said? I'll go ahead and speak for myself. When I talk recovery it is my experience. Generally what I know and have actually experienced make up my beliefs. And yes. Some of my beliefs have changed over time.

Of course things change. Thoughts, views. Time has a lot to do with it. Time spent in the AA Big Book 12 Steps growing and developing open mindedness. I have time I guess I could say. I'm coming up on 35 years on the other side of my initial Spiritual Awakening. For me that's time spent I have chosen(my choice) to relive right now sitting here typing. Not time that I am obsessed with or plagued by. Mortified at the self centered thought of who I was in some sick or sad moment in my past.  There's a huge difference between what it was like and what it's like now.. Today? Right now this very minute? I am a free man. Free to give of myself. Free to serve the suffering man. I am nolonger simply hanging on surviving. Spinning and twirling at the bottom of the pit unable to shut myself down.. Gasping for air in life's everlasting anxiety attack. It is good today. Life is good today.

 

Redemption. Let me redeem myself today on the Spiritual Path suggested. Show me how to humble myself before others, share, give without condition. Let me see everything I have so I can give what I can when I can. Let me have balance, see I have nothing to steal so heavy, nothing to protect too precious, nothing that is mine and mine alone.   Let me treat others as I treat myself. Let me care enough for myself to care for myself. Let me see and understand my truths. Let me change where I should.

 I have worked with many suffering men in AA both new and old and yes that was good for myself and them. I have earned the respect of others in my sobriety. I have been loving toward others and have great memories in my sobriety and that is also good. I have laughed and enjoyed myself at many AA meetings and that is the beauty of the AA fellowship I call myself a member of..

Yes, those were the days. They were good days. Two meetings a day. Just don't drink for one day. Although I gladly bring them with me?   They are not today. Today is not yesterday, it is today. Now I'm not saying yesterday is gone, no. In sobriety I have developed many coping skills I continue to use and rely on I bring from yesterday.  I just can't rely on yesterday to carry me through today. The full 24 hours living sober. Too many variables. I may get lucky sure but in my case? It's just not worth the risk. Today I will live for today and in so doing create another great yeaterday. I am willing to redeem myself today and who knows, I may be stronger than I was yesterday. Today is the day I will carry my vision of the Spirit of all things into all my activities. Today is the day I will humble myself. Today I will pray for direction, guidance on the Spiritual path.

 

Today is Sunday. I've been sober for 34 years and some change. Have I had it better? Sure. Is everything perfect? Nope. Can I make this day a great day to live sober? Absolutely. Can I face life on life's terms without my fear dictating my decision making? Yes I believe I can do that.  I am willing to follow Spiritual direction.I will pray for my selfish demand on human power to be removed. 

Can I alone reduce my self centeredness? Eh sometimes but well, No. Will I be able to give unconditionally in all my affairs? Probably not. I surrender to my Higher Spiritual Power for that and all else.. The God of my understanding. Big Book Step 11 upon awakening page 86. I will begin with willingness, surrender to the Spiritual strength that empowers me. This is what works for me. This is how I have found redemption. In the Spirit of all things. My selfishness and fear are no longer extreme today. The more I give the more I get to give. I have no reason to steal from others. Learning to give of myself that another may benefit is key. The Spiritual realm has accepted me today. There, I am provided with everything I need to live and be free.

 

Ok. Clean the pool. Mow the lawn. Get the work in the garage done. Buy a spare tire for my trailer. Go out for breakfast? Patch her paddleboard? Get groceries? Cat food? Black bird seed? Local fireworks tonight!

I've got plenty to do today. Responsibilities that are mine. I'll probably not get everything done, I never do. But I try. I do try. I am willing to pray for courage and strength to be the best I can be today. I will pray to pack what I can into the stream of life as it goes by. Participate. Be a part of not apart from.  I have no reason to use others, no reason to steal security or strength from them. I'll give it before I take it. I have been redeemed in Spirit. Given a whole new attitude and outlook on life and all I need to do is? Keep learning to freely give it away..

 

 

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