Well? I'd like to say I am balanced in my AA at this point especially enjoying the camaraderie of the Fellowship with a discussion meeting, an open speaker meeting, 12/12, Big Book Step, Big Book discussion, each day of the week some well rounded AA. It was the thing to do right? Bang out meetings, don't pick up one drink for one day, participate..Get there early to help set up, maybe greet at the door or help make coffee, welcome anyone who shows up. I was a member of AA because I said I was and was actually working on myself a bit . Addressing my hygiene with a long over due dentist visit for instance. I had never done that before, I always relied on somebody else to make the call and set up the appointment, usually a responsible girlfriend / foster mother. It wasn't too bad, too hard, I did it all the while feeling myself the adult. Probably mentioning to anyone who would listen in a subtle way that oh by the way, I have a dentist appointment this week, probably cost a lot of money but I got it covered.. Boasting my new sober life with a adult dose of Hey! Look at me! Look what I can do!...I may as well have been a 5 year old twirling and hopping for attention but at this point? Who knew, certainly not me.
No, I was finding my place, Taking some time off from my usual daily self imposed crisis and following the emotional security trail, the bread crumbs of my Sponsor. In my daily racing mind I was connected or grounded to him, my Sponsor, my Spiritual advisor. This was new to me, I never trusted anyone, the best I could do was arrange them in my mind so I somehow fit. I would manipulate my acceptance, even if they liked me I would still have to control my relationship. Anyway, he was Big Book 12 Steps so I was Big Book 12 Steps. All the other stuff began to fall away. Sure I would still attend my discussion group but there was nolonger anything to discuss. Yes I would go to my open speaker meeting but saw myself there looking for, more like obsessed with getting a date. The 12/12 men's group where I felt like I was one of the guys, like I was equal to those who had been around a while? I wasn't comfortable there anymore. It was like I was phony, I would read and share and maybe have a laugh but then when I left the meeting I was crazy again. Sometimes right away. The 12/12 Step meeting would wear off quick for me. Plus I imagined the oldtimers that had been my friends there seemed to look at me different knowing I had a Big Book 12 Step sponsor, like I was betraying them, weird. I just wanted AA but with them it seemed like there wasn't any middle ground. The Big Book 12 Step people were know it all bastards and the 12/12 crowd was the real happy joyous and free AA. The 12/12 group did have more general conversation I could jump into without any real qualification plus somebody's wife made cookies every week. It was definitely much more comfortable like, yeah, this is how I want to live!
But the Big Book had a hook in it and I was on it flopping around. Maybe my Sponsor was fishing around AA meetings and caught me, I didn't care really. Something told me I needed to work on myself, my Sponsor had pegged me too many times with my life history through his own experience. He'd talk about himself as if he was describing me, I wasn't alone with him and the strange thing was I would just listen and not try to arrange what he said. It was ok to hear about me, it was ok that someone else knew..I began to lean heavily on Big Book. I needed to know where he got this information about me, stuff I myself didn't even know. I felt something down deep just like when I read Bills story. This Bill W, my Sponsor too, they had something that I felt was key to my survival and if it was ever going to materialize it would be through them. Was this a cult? I didn't know what a cult was so I didn't care. I just couldn't figure this stuff out on my own and the Big Book did say self knowledge won't fix me. I needed willingness. I was just kind of funneled into Step 3. After reading and discussing the three pertinent ideas in the Big Book with my Sponsor I knew I was on to something. It was ok that my 12/12 guys were happy joyous and free without me. I was on to something else, what? I'm not sure but definitely something else. My Sponsor said lets see what the Book says the "something else" is? Maybe it's true. The answers are really in the Big Book.
We got together and talked about the Step 3 reading, then the prayer. Prayer? Ohboy, here we go, prayer! My Sponsor was comfortable with it so I went along using the term Higher Power as my God or the God of my understanding. Around this time I had dropped away from AA in the general sense. The don't drink go to meetings, get a Sponsor, join a group, get active, ABC's. 90 n 90 stuff that was so important, seemed to be replaced with the Big Book reading or discussing everyday. There was a Thursday night men's Big Book 12 Step meeting that I lived for..I thought about it all week.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought Step 3 was about asking for help to keep away from a drink. Maybe be saved? After all what good is any of this if I can't stop drinking right? Can't live sober. But it said the wording of the Step 3 prayer was optional as long as we express the "idea", voicing it without reservation. Idea, what's the idea? Well? the idea was the something else I was trying to identify and kind of just filled in my own blank spot with what seemed most likely to be a fit. Apparently there was a bit more to it? We looked at the prayer, broke it down a bit, nothing too heavy just looked at each line without adding what we thought fit, just looking at what the wording said.
It began with "God I offer myself to thee" I get it, I'm surrendering myself to my own conception of a Spiritual Power greater than myself. Not to difficult to understand right? Me, the drunkard with the crazy unmanageable life, God has all power and is loving, kind, patient, everything I am not. I am under the assumption God will take all my problems and then I'll be happy and free! Maybe even live like the oldtimers at the 12/12 group who don't seem to care about much except laughing and joking.. I still think Step 3 is all about me but why wouldn't I? I haven't really done anything to change myself except ask for help. No real action on my part just willingness really.
Next line.."To build with me and do with me as thou wilt". So, do what you want with me? I'm offering myself to God to do what you want with me? ok..
Next line.."Relieve me of the bondage of self that I may better do thy will." Bondage, like stress and anxiety? or the obsession over my ex-wife never coming back? How about granting me courage and strength to pick up the 10k pound pen and write a thorough 4th Step? I mean that's where the bondage is right? Guide me in the rest of the 12 Steps and learning to live sober?
Next line.."Take away my difficulties that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of thy power thy love and thy way of life"..Ok, take away my difficulties, like relieve my bondage. That victory over my difficulties like drinking? insanity? May bear witness to those I would help. Help? Help like my Sponsor is helping me?
Next line.."May I do thy will always". So I surrender myself to the Spiritual God of my understanding, my Higher Power. I am under His love and care to live my life so I can attract others like myself? I have the power to take unselfish action? Even serve the man who still suffers? So this is my Step 3, this is my purpose. So it's not all about me.
My Sponsor and I got on our knees because that's just how we surrender. We held hands and I said the 3rd Step prayer out of the Big Book. I believed I understood the 3rd Step "idea" for me in my life in AA. I voiced it without reservation. I had made my decision, I understood my 3rd Step. And yes, I did feel different. I didn't realize it at the time but the "great effect" that many feel was my ability to begin writing my 4th Step, something I could never even begin to attempt. The great effect was the courage, the willingness to see myself that I can better serve others.