I was plagued by voices in my head before I connected with the 12 steps in 1988. I know what they were today. They weren’t real, but they were constant and overpowering. They never had a nice thing to say to me.
“You aren’t good enough, not smart enough, not good looking enough, not strong enough and you never will be.”
“Your father doesn’t talk to you or come to your ballgames because he doesn’t like you.”
“You will NEVER be happy.”
“No one understands you.”
Some were echoes of things others said to me.
Those negative "I" messages were my disease whispering to me. The mental aspect of alcoholism and drug addiction that carry with them fear, self centeredness and a powerfully flawed self image long predated my first drink and drug and even post-dated my sobriety date a bit. I believe the dark views of life and ourselves are inevitable when we inherit the alcoholism gene. I used alcohol and drugs to mute the voices. When the alcohol and drugs were gone, the voices lingered. My first sponsor called it my “committee.” It was constantly meeting, arguing, running me down.
I read somewhere seven positive affirmations are needed to overcome one negative thought we have about ourselves. I don’t know how they arrived at that number, but the point is true. Negativity is far more powerful than positive thoughts.
The voices were too loud for me to calm myself. That’s when I was introduced to prayer and meditation. Not in step 11, but soon after I was sober I was being taught to calm myself and use centering prayer technique to tap the power of the Force to overcome the negativity.
I distinctly remember a thought that came to me during one of those prayer sessions. Remember the passage in the Big Book where Bill and Dr. Bob talk to an alcoholic who has trouble with the spiritual aspect of what they are trying to sell him. After they leave, he has this thought: “Who are you to say there is no God?” The humility that rushes over him as a result is enough for him to open his mind to the prospect that maybe there is a God who can help him. He becomes Alcoholic Number 3. I had no trouble believing there was a God. I had studied enough science to know there was a grand hand behind the evolution of the universes, the evolution of life on earth. But I saw only war, poverty, racial hate when I grew up. I didn’t think God had any interest in the affairs of human beings, including me.
But the thought of Alcoholic Number 3 came to me in slightly modified form. If God made the universe, then he was my perfect parent. Who was I to say God wouldn’t love me, his son?
From that moment not long after I quit drinking and doing drugs the Force was there on my side to overwhelm those negative thoughts when they came. I would repeat things like “God loves me, God loves me…” The thoughts would disappear.
“God is my strong right arm, whom shall I fear? God is my staff, of what shall I be afraid?” “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Those meditations and others like them work for me to this day. Simple, brief, strong, and as a result, I know that I am loved by something far greater than me.
Find your own power. You can, you know. Don’t listen to the voices. You will know a new freedom and happiness. Claim that promise as your own.