It's coming hard and fast. Building momentum in the past say 10 years. Pushing. Huffing and puffing at the door. Will it finally get inside? Will abstinence be overthrown? Replaced with a six gun filled with magic recovery bullets?
Do no harm. I get it. Nobody I know anyway wants to harm anyone. Intentionally anyway. We've seen pain, we've lived the suffering of untreated alcoholism. We feel pain and fear whether it's ours or someone else's. Many of us like myself are co-dependent. I live others lives as a hopeful alternative to my own fragmented realities. Sometimes there is short term relief. It's difficult to measure. It's more like seeking security in the familiar. I do what I believe or at least think others want and they're going to be happy so in turn I'm happy. That whole like me so I can like myself chestnut.
Then again, nobody I know lives by the Hippocratic oath. It's not an AA requirement. We're generally not doctors, healers, hell we're not even missionaries. We're alcoholic men and women who have found recovery in the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. In my world? The Big Book 12 Step world? This suggested program of recovery begins with a admission of hopelessness. There is no selfie stick and book on positive affirmations offered. Just the admitted loss of reasoning needed to simply take a drink of alcohol or leave it alone. A powerlessness. That is my ticket. My winning ticket.
Seemingly we are a doomed lot. The fellowship offers opportunity. A comfort zone for those of us who find a new beginning through kindly acts every night at the AA meetings. Camaraderie, emotional security offered to those of us who's lives have been ravaged in the grips of alcoholism. So yeah. We're damaged people. We don't want to hurt anybody anymore than we already have. We have been rescued. AA is our safe place and for once? We are not afraid when people are kind. There is nothing to steal.
It's easy to soft soap alcoholism recovery. Meetings, laughter, turning that frown around. The mothball hugs, handshakes, reborn into a new world of daily validation. Especially with a bit of time sober under my belt and maybe a nice car or decent place to live many of us never thought we'd see again. Clean clothes, more than one favorite shirt after a huge Tommy Bahama score at Sally's.. Lots of new freedoms. A cable bill in our name. Rent paid. Others offering me self respect so I am more than willing to keep them around me.. Yup. People are ok. Foggy? Blurry? Distorted? But ok just the same. Everyone is so self centered that no one stays on stage for very long. It's good for me with AA offering me each day a new beginning. It's easy to forget just how serious this whole alcoholism thing really is or getting to this new day really was.
For me anyway? It's life or death. That's about it really. Life or death. Black or white with no room for accountability. I don't understand it and can't figure it out. I was dead and now I live. I was outside and now I'm inside. Smiling faces, the nudge and wink of approval. Pretty girls. The world may end on Tuesday but if I don't pick up that one drink? I'll be ok. It's only Monday. Tomorrows a mystery? Yesterday's history.. It's one day at a time and when all else fails? I'm sober. I didn't drink...
The religious would call it a miracle. I'm not religious though I like to sling the lingo. I like to see myself as a miracle. I like the self esteem boost.. More likely with most fairytales the truth eventually appears. I can identify. Pinocchio, or the Velveteen Rabbit. Change. Like a fable my recovery tells a story of change. A lesson to be learned. Bait and switch really. The moral of this or my story centers around the AA Big Book suggested Spiritual path. Starts out questioning life itself, then the clarity is revealed as a God thing. A Higher Spiritual Power thing. My own conception of a Spiritual power greater than myself thing. The God of my understanding. I was one way. I surrendered my hopeless alcoholic self to this Power greater than myself and now I am another way. I'd love to take some credit for this emotional upheaval, this psychic change but, all I did really was show up. I had some willingness masked as desperation. Or maybe desperation masked as willingness, I can't be sure. I do know I was desperate and I was willing. I asked for help and put the drink down for one day. A small price for my ticket to reality.
I'm a Big Book 12 Step sponsor. Or Spiritual advisor for you Big Book purists. How about friend.
I am out of the limelight these days but not off the firing line. I work with guys, who are generally hopeless and in need of a psychic change. More than not they are boxed in. Crushed by some sort of self imposed crisis. Life is consumed with fear. There is no longer any person place of thing with sufficient power to remove it. The fear dominates every waking moment. The man wishes for some sort of anesthesia as he jockeys his day without a mind altering substance. Waiting for the security of the AA meeting where it's ok to use people because well? It's all he knows... When I am qualifying someone or finding all I can about them to see if I can put myself in their shoes? If they have still got enablers to pick up their endless emotional tab? I usually pass. Other sponsors are better suited I'm sure. There are enough issues to navigate through in today's AA just to get to the willingness.
So yeah, I'll help you through the 12 Steps. I'll show you what I did. I'm available if you want help with Step 3. Someone to explain the 4th Step format from the Book or a closed mouth understanding friend for Step 5. I'll pray for willingness to keep my own house in order. I'll pray to keep a confidence. I'll go as far as you go on the Spiritual path. If you want to quit? Not write? Not clean up the past? Not serve another who suffers? I'll move on to another who want's the program in it's entirety. No problem here. I'll leave the door open the best I can.
What about Naltrexone? The newest magic bullet? How about the counselor who supports harm reduction and says it's fine to smoke weed responsibly with your history with heroin addiction. Even have a drink for anxiety issues. The Drug Court probation officer who believes AA is wishy washy spiritual mumbo jumbo and only cares about catching you with dirty urine by calling your color two days in a row. Marijuana maintenance? Those who say the only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking. Pot is ok. Think better, focus better. Get Spiritually better when stoned..
It's 2018. Methadone or the "clinic" is still going strong in the sober house halfway house behavioral modification arena. Antabuse is still around on occasion, why I don't know. There's new money pouring into opioid paperwork. Support for new fresh ideas to justify the spending.
Personally? I'd blame it all on the media if I didn't have a bleacher seat for this unfolding travesty. I see it. Witness it first hand everyday. Gone are the days when a drunk stumbled into meetings looking for help or I offered my name and number to a doctor or the Cops and got a call somebody needed help. In this "everybody is an addict" world we have created? You need a Big Book and a sluice box to work with the new man.
I have two guys on Naltrexone, another who doesn't feel he should have to put down the weed. I have another who launched out of the 3rd Step gate chasing the rabbit but has crashed and does nothing now. He's back tied up in his bondage. Now, the Book says rarely have we seen a person fail who thoroughly follows the path meaning, the Spiritual path. It also says the mans own conception is sufficient to make the approach to the path. It does say some are incapable of being honest with themselves but it's not my call whether they have the capacity to be honest or not so. Unless they are just jammed on meds if they show some willingness to be honest then, I'll do whatever I can. Get them going with the reading. There is a solution, More about alcoholism, Bills story etc. If they can do that then we have something to talk about. I can assure them they are on their way..
Now, if they won't at least read? The Book says to encourage them to read. If they are unwilling to believe and their reliance remains on people for their recovery? Worshipping their therapist? It won't matter if they're smoking pot or on some mental health meds. They're not going anywhere I can go with them. I'm AA. I can help solve the drink problem I can show directions in the Book that lead to a psychic change. I must also be clear the AA Big Book 12 Step program as directed is to overcome the selfishness and self centered fear brought on by untreated alcoholism. It is a Spiritual solution. It is not an intellectual alternative to a Spiritual solution. It is specifically a Spiritual solution.
Not long ago I was listening to a guys written 10th Step. Big Book written 10th Steps are not the norm. That's more a 12/12 thing but anyway. Sure he was continuing to watch for his defective character to show itself daily. He was pausing when agitated or doubtful in Step 11 also and praying for direction or the next thought or action. He was working with new men in the Steps too. But like myself and others have done in sobriety he let something slide. It turned into a unresolved issue and stayed there. Eventually it festered into resentment and was oozing out in other areas with strings seemingly choking him in areas unrelated.. Push came to shove and he decided to write it down following the Big Book 4th Step format. It was reoccurring aggravation now, it wasn't going away. Resentment man, there's power there for sure.
So he asks me if I'd hear it and I said sure. We get together and pray for honesty and confidence. I'm respectful of this guy. No drugs, no real vises to speak of. He lives a clean life. Wife he treats well as far as I can tell. Works and pays his way in life always willing to share his benefits with others. He's a power of example to me really. Anyway, his 10th was very thorough and honest. Always good to be exposed to that kind of Spiritual willingness to be honest. I told him he was helping me more than I was helping him. We laughed. I said this is what I needed. I was slipping myself lately. Forgetting who I am and my purpose. The guys I'm sponsoring are in the system deep. I am always praying for direction with them. I know and understand the AA Big Book 12 Steps but also I don't want to pull them away from whatever their counselor or probation suggests. I am what I am and not out to be any better or worse than anyone else or their recovery program. So yeah, it can get a bit blurry when I forget my primary purpose. If I forget my AA 12 Step message and feel I need to control. I'm here to lay out the Spiritual set of tools suggested in the Big Book text for his inspection. If he picks them up? Great. If he doesn't? I must be careful to not selfishly sabotage it. If I am disappointed I may want to make him pay for how I feel. He may be back later and ready to do some work. If so? My own house must still be in order. Or else, like it says. I can't transmit something I haven't got..