I'm AA, an AA member. I was rescued and have no problem admitting AA saved my life from the spiraling alcoholic pit of despair I knew and lived as the norm. Learning one day at a time to live free of alcohol and other mind altering substances became my only real focus thereby bringing my mindful rotation to a halt. Leaving most everything else in a kind of acceptable fog, rarely seen at the forefront anymore... My newfound willingness keeping me free of the self imposed distractions that kept me from seeing the true nature of my spiritual malady. Primarily my selfishness and fear. I was getting honest with myself in AA or at least with the drinking problem. Shortly thereafter something big was happening aside from just putting the drink down, a kind of positive shift in my attitude and outlook on life itself. New direction as if on the daily entrance ramp of some kind of recovery road. Suggested spiritual path.
Yes it certainly would appear as if I surrendered to the AA God and this great God removed all my difficulties just like that. As if flipping a switch I went from drunk wayward and disorderly to goody soberly direction for maybe two hours each day. Meetings. A snap of a finger and all was or is well with myself and the world of daily AA meetings. Some referred to this as a daily reprieve. A willingness to believe. I let go of the bad air and inhaled only the good. Leaving me with an endless supply of clean, sober, minty fresh breath. I could easily talk to anyone about anything while attending the meetings. There were no obvious axes to grind or prepare for battle. No people to please. Yes. All was going well. Then for no reason I could understand? On a sunny summers Cape Cod day? I drank again.
I'd hear around the halls that insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. There is truth here. My open road to recovery became a cul-de-sac. Not a dead end or cliff or oncoming train. But a place where I kept moving sure, just in circles with only one way out that was where I had already been..I was back tracking. Back peddling. Stuck going round and round looking at my life over and over. Fooling myself into believing I was still moving ahead simply because I was moving. Growing seemed the only option.
To me? New and better arrangements, newly painted stimulus, the dishonesty with myself spoon fed with every thought. I was sober yeah? But had stopped and was going nowhere. At best I would run into my self as if some new found freedom. This is different or that is? Always new changes to support my circling delusion.. I had time to come up with new and much better endings to my many unresolved issues in my life. It wasn't all bad because it was all I knew. There was a sense of security in the familiar as the Book says. So yes, this was acceptable recovery, I wasn't alone and compared to being drunk in the gutter I was fixing myself finally. At best I was settling for less and less creating new friends from past enemies in my mind and as the changes came? The history became brighter. Same people different script. While others focused on their future? I continued to be obsessed with changing my past. Creating new and better arrangements. Validation. Emotional security boosts. Anything in an effort to catch up to the present. Keep up with my surroundings. Yep.. Insanity.
It hit me square one morning after Christmas. In that week of limbo before the New Year when many are shell shocked and out of ammunition. Covering the battlefield suffering with their emotional hangovers.. Yes. I'd been sober a year at least. I'd had a great time all night at the Christmas AA alca-thon with my new sober friends. My drivers license, truck registered and insured. Lots of cigarettes and coffee, conversation and fellowship. I was working regularly and had a few bucks in my pocket, decent place to sleep and live. I was holding my own. I was experiencing many things that only seemed to apply to other people when I was drinking. Now sober? These things were coming my way seemingly by default. Seemingly because I wasn't drunk and banging out meetings. The weirdest thing of course is that I had friends. It's as if people in AA were automatically my friends as soon as I met them. Very weird. Great! But weird still.
I went on a date. I showed up cleaned up and went out to a movie and something to eat. I had fun. We had fun. Dating. I never knew..
That feeling would come on strong at times. That feeling that I was stunted. Too damaged for even AA. Maybe this whole recovery one day at a time thing, this live and let live, easy does it thing? This isn't going to last? Oh I was safe and protected in my meetings but when I stepped outside? Or even the thought of returning to family or passing through my old town? Everything immediately turned dark. As if afraid and alone all over again. I wasn't worthy of spiritual growth. The road stops here. The cul de sac. I was only safe at meetings meetings meetings or in the company of others in AA. Round and round until I fell back alone.
Now, I have never in my life really trusted people and in my AA well, that hadn't changed much although I wasn't aware of this... So, slinging the AA lingo? The endless positive affirmations? Supportive fellowship? I was going to have to try. I was going to need to muster a bit of willingness here. Effort. It was as if sure I could pray for direction each morning like everybody else was doing. But then there was a bit of participation needed. Action. I needed to show up with the outstretched hand for instance.. I saw this as I began to notice it was always everyone else that made the first move. Always others that had the outstretched hand. Oh sure I responded right away but the initial welcome? The greeting? That wasn't me.
Everything wasn't going to change for the better simply because I now had God. No I would pray for the right thought or action but then I was going to have to be willing to take that action. Get out of myself. Sure sounded easy when I was running my arrangements through my head but later when the people were there? Present? Involved? Face to face? Not so easy. I heard someone refer to similar feelings as self centered fear. It fit. I was full of self. Afraid. I was in the center of all thought and afraid. I still held on as if everything was all about me. I had no idea how to let myself go. You welcome me? Others talk to me. Everything revolves around me as if I am the hub of the wheel. Always about me. For some reason people dominated me. As if as soon as people were involved all my thoughts tilted. I automatically dug in to my safe place. Survivor mode. The place where I had control. It became quite clear that first year. I had a people problem. Sure I stopped drinking alcohol but now? Now I was drinking people. I was using them as much as the drink. This was a huge problem. A seemingly familiar deep rooted problem.
As if the people problem was around long before the alcohol. The alcohol was used to bury the people problem and now without the alcohol? The same old people problem is totally here and now. Exposed as the dominating feature of my alcoholism. Could the alcohol really just be a symptom of underlying causes? The self centered fear under it all at the root?
A SPIRITUAL DECISION.
Although it may seem that the decision was made for me? As if I rubbed a magic lamp then waited to begin my new life living sober? Just continued to hang around meetings everyday until some emotional recovery rubbed off? No, that may have worked for others but not me. The Book referred to me as a real alcoholic or the person who makes the admission of hopelessness. There were no more deals. Boxed in my self I was then as I am today, a willing participant. I needed to be a part of it. A part of my own spiritual decision. This wasn't a group effort anymore. It wouldn't rub off on my good intentions. This was about my insides and mine alone. The whole willingness thing, Step 2, is crucial but I couldn't get off the cul de sac as much as I wanted to. I needed to secure the courage and strength I lacked in order to continue with the Step work. I needed more power and it became obvious that no human power could offer sufficient relief.
The fearless and thorough inventory was still a problem because of the fear. I couldn't do a fearless anything. All attempts at a 4th Step failed. The power wasn't there. Especially go into my past and return safely. Nevermind getting down to my own causes and conditions. Seeing the truth about myself? It was clear to me that I needed to make a decision to turn my will over to my God. My Higher Power.
Not saying others don't simply surrender to their God and are instantly reborn, I'm just saying it wasn't that way with me. Nothing that extreme. I seemed to have an issue with the whole Religion thing. And the creator thing. And the reborn thing. People again. Not the one true God or Biblical jibber jabber, scripture. I could imagine that alright with all it's wisdom and solutions offered.. It's the people. Once people were added to a Spiritual realm and the Religion was presented? Church? I wanted nothing to do with it. I found my way on to the Spiritual path by way of my own conception of God. A Spiritual Higher Power. A so called "entry level God of my understanding" as more or less suggested in the Big Book. Although seemingly inadequate to many, entry level at best? For me this decision was huge. I had my secure footing and began building my foundation, then my arch. Day by day, piece by piece. Finally the day came when I picked up the pen and didn't put it back down. I was on my way. I began to lay the cobbles in a new direction. A new spiritual path. On it I walk day by day serving my God and the suffering man.
Lots of work to do for me. It's always something coping with life on life's terms. It's one day at a time but we're all in different days. Maintenance on my Spiritual hi-way generally comes easy for me. It's a good life living sober in and around AA for this alcoholic. I've been living sober well over half my life.
I remember someone saying to me, it gets better and better. When you think it can't get any better? It gets better than that.