First off it isn't fair to suggest the Big Book 12 Steps as the only way, original, perfect, primary, absolute..I know plenty of self admitted alcoholics who are in recovery without it's suggested Spiritual process in their lives. But don't get me wrong, for me it is Alcoholics Anonymous. It is a full life without alcohol for those who are able to make an admission of hopelessness. So sure it may seem too intense for those who are maybe not that mangled, not at the jumping off point, are fortunate to still have a bit of self will, are still with enablers or even teachable.. The truth I've seen over and over is just because you say you're an addict? does not make you a hopeless alcoholic. To those who are still capable of reading and applying? Great, good for you. My interest is in those like myself who are hell bent on self destruction, who have been badly mangled by their selfishness and fear, those who drank to die and were unsuccessful. The alcohol no longer did it's job. It left us empty, void of life.
Principles, who knew? Oh I had moral convictions for everyone else, claiming myself judge and jury to the world. Moral convictions, philosophies that governed others lives, but for me? I had nothing, I stood for nothing, I was nothing and going nowhere. All I had was my arrangements of others, this was my purpose. Jobs, blameless wives and children, girlfriends, friends, history repeating itself with new names and faces every week, month, year, decade. So when someone mentioned principles at an AA meeting? I really had no idea what they were talking about. Did they mean I should get a better group of people in my life to arrange? Principles were one of the keys to living sober, they said.. Nope, still nothing. Principles were something I was bound by each day of my new life sober. Louder? nothing, I just didn't get it.
Somewhere between meetings, meetings, meetings, and the spark of willingness I found? It was suggested to ask a Spiritual Higher Power for guidance? There was a shadow of a man/child, me. I could not make out any defining character, no identity really, no solid features, just a figure in the mirror. A male, late 20's. No future ahead and a past of nothing but pain and suffering. Even the seemingly best of times were contaminated, I was there. Nomatter the situation I was there and I was at fault for ruining it. The guilt and shame was all I saw when I looked to myself. Half the time I didn't even know why? I only knew that if I was there I was bad and I was in everything with my extreme self centeredness. How could I get rid of me when I was me? Alcohol was no longer working, I had no choice but to look at myself. Why the leper? Why do I hate myself so? I don't get it? I've never been all that bad! Oh sure I'm a sinner or loser or whatever, but nothing that would land me in prison? I'm guilty of believing others opinions. I'm guilty of being weak! I'm guilty of worshipping people and their opinions of me over my own. I can be happy with myself and if others are not? The others have it, they're always right. They hold the power. Everyone was everything and I was nothing...Ok, so what's the solution? Is there even one for me?
I needed to stabilize. Calm down. I saw many get on meds and that did work. I didn't have this option so I stayed in meetings. Two a day, everyday. I began to calm down enough to listen. AA with it's lack of accountability offered me a safe place. I liked AA. No pressure. I looked forward to meetings, this was not something I was doing to get well or healthy, this was my new life. AA was my new life. Don't drink go to meetings, get a sponsor, join a group, go on commitments..Get there early and set up, stay and clean up, greet at the door? make coffee? Make the new guy feel comfortable with straight eye contact and a handshake touch.
The less I was threatened the more I came out from behind my fortress of false security. I made some friends? Odd for me really, friends. I was unable to reach out to my childhood but I became a young teen. Emotionally feeling things I missed in my youth. Love Mom, hate Dad, and when things get overwhelming? RUN. Run to the abyss where I make my own life in my mind..
AA, I became a teen who had a car and a few bucks in my pocket to share a date with a girl. I had times when I didn't hate myself and the date came off well. A good time had by all with a kiss goodnight at the door. In AA I was growing up and attributed this to my new found Father? The supportive Dad? The Higher Power and the Fellowship of AA were guiding me everyday. I was recovering. Each day I was solving the drink problem and for the most part enjoying it.
Hold a door, pitch in with others and help clean up the hall. Soon I was feeding myself and sitting alone with my home cooked meal. This was all new. Even laundry, dishes, I was willing to take care of myself sober. Sure I would do just about anything for approval but for me? alone? I hated myself and could not care to take care of myself. I needed validation from others just to exist. Now? in AA for a few months everyday? I had a decent place to live and was taking care of myself, taking care of the new man, the reborn man. I was living a life with purpose. I asked the Higher Power for guidance every morning, I didn't drink for 24 hours, I went to meetings usually twice a day, I took care of myself with food and proper hygiene....now, If I could just stop my mind from racing out of control at times for no apparent reason I'd be all set!
There is much work to be done. My emotional foundation was severely cracked and broken. I couldn't really build onto it without serious repair, this took time. As the matter of fact? I still work on it today some 30ish years later. I welcome it.
I have seen myself, my true self. I have seen my terrible destructiveness and it's origin. I have put it where it belongs and moved on into today. Today I am sober, today I ask for guidance from a Spiritual Power greater than all things, underlying all things good and bad. I call it God. Today I have the opportunity to undergo the psychic change sufficient to overcome my Alcoholism. Today I get the big break in the insanity of the hopeless Alcoholic. Today is my lucky day!
I looked in the mirror this morning and saw the figure there, the face, the eyes looking back. They had substance, purpose, a willingness to understand myself and my surroundings. I saw a participant in life, a recovering thief of emotional security. I am a man today. As a man with purpose today I can greet others for who they are. I can welcome the thoughts and feelings of a friend without fear or threat. I can be responsible for myself and others who may benefit from my freely offered support. I am a changed man today as long as I remain willing to walk the Spiritual path suggested in the Big Book 12 Steps.
How it works? Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our PATH. The Spiritual Path. Later on it says, both you and the new man must walk day by day in the PATH of Spiritual progress. I get it! I learn each day to let go. I have changed.