More Like Guidelines

Lately my recovery has included what many might think is an indoctrination into the AA “Faith” or “Cult.” Nothing could be further from the truth. In two weeks, I will have 1 1/2 years of sobriety. I have AA to thank for that. More important, I have my friends in AA to thank for that. There is no use denying this. All the sayings (or most of them) that I rolled my eyes at before have come true for me. I live a life of serenity; I am grateful for what I have; I accept what I cannot change.

I don’t believe that “Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book)” is a Bible. It’s a game plan for life and, within boundaries, one I am willing to follow. However, we learn in AA that we are not God nor are Bill W, Dr. Bob and the others who showed us how to live sober and clean one day at time. While their program has helped thousands, it does not work for everyone. Many manage to solve their drinking problems without AA. Others believe that AA is an enabling program which lays responsibility for alcoholic behavior where it does not belong (on a disease rather than bad decisions made by individuals). My opinion lies somewhere in the middle but only as it relates to me, not others. I only take my inventory.

There are those in the program who use the Big Book as some kind of a Bible. Often they quote at length as if from scriptures. Many extrapolate truisms of AA out of the Big Book and “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (The Twelve and Twelve)” where they simply cannot be found. Sponsorship, for one, is not mentioned anywhere in the literature. Many choose to believe anything they are told. I am not one of them

As I’ve said before in my blogging, I was educated to question everything; to decide on my own what to take and what to leave. My education comes not so much from the Big Book and the Twelve and Twelve, but rather from the actions and views of my friends in the program. I also realize that what worked for them, may not work for me. To me, the Big Book and Twelve and Twelve are more of an outline, a Ten Commandments with Twelve Steps instead. Though both have origins in spirituality, one tells you what you must not do while the other offers suggestions on what you might do if you want to adjust to the AA way of life.

The Commandments are the basis of the Judeo-Christian ethic; the Steps are suggestions for a way of life. Neither we nor AA are God nor should AA be seen as a religion or sect. Bill W and Dr. Bob were men who found a path where others had failed. It is a way of life, nothing more, and nothing less.

Peace out,

M

Doing the Next Right Thing

Here I am at just over 16 months of sobriety and life is pretty good. I have had no compulsion to drink or drug other than a momentary lapse into despair and a corresponding twinge a few weeks ago.

What did I do? I called my sponsor of course. After ten minutes or so on the phone, we decided that I needed to get to a meeting the next day and go to that meeting I did.

I am talking here about doing the next right thing. It doesn’t matter whether that next right thing directly involves my sobriety or not. It has to do with being a better person.

My wife does a hell of a lot of work around the house. While not a total slouch (I do the food shopping and most of the cooking), I tend not to care too much about the build up of junk, magazines, papers, etc. that seem to accumulate wherever I am or have been.

No longer do I blow her off when she asks for help. I get on it straight away (usually, I’m not a saint by any means) and complete what she asks me to do without question or complaint. It feels good to know that I am helpful.

I’ve also begun to open up more at meetings and share my thoughts when I truly think that others could be helped by my experiences. I think carefully before I raise my hand about whether I am thinking of stating something so obvious it need not be said or whether I would be talking mainly to myself. Only after assuring myself that my share might be helpful, do I ask to speak.

Further, to date I have not been on a committment journey to speak in front of another group. Someone asked me to go to one tomorrow and I am seriously considering that I might attend.

It feels good to help, to do the next right thing, to be human again. It’s just another gift I’ve been given by my sobriety. You should try it if you haven’t yet!

Peace out,
M

Are These Extravagant Promises?

 Are these extravagant promises? We think not.  They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them. – Alcoholics Anonymous p83-84

I just realized, as I sat down to write, that my original sober date was just last week and that my current sobriety date is over 15 months ago.

During my therapy this morning, and while sitting in my office later, I realized that something remarkable had happened: the promises had begun to come true for me

Last week was big time for me. I realized that some of my behaviors had been lacking in terms of doing the next right thing. I had rolled my eyes at comments I heard, made fun of people for whom I didn’t much care, and even left meetings because I didn’t want to hear a particular person share again.

I realized that some of the behaviors I learned from my fellows in early sobriety were not the best fit for me, that I was starting to think like and act like them in many unflattering ways even beyond the fellowship. I have finally discovered that I need to make changes in the way I look at the world; “I needed to concentrate not on what needed to be changed in the world but on what needed to be changed in me and my attitudes.”

Here’s the thing - as soon as the light bulb went on, I became serene and peaceful to an extent greater than I can ever remember being. Now I understand the truisms of the program. I finally understand words like, “getting out of my head” and, “a life second to none.” I can finally relate to them because the promises have, at least in part, come true for me.

I still have much work to do, but I can tell you this: it does work, it does happen. Work hard at being a better person, try not to be “that guy/gal” any longer. Accept when, where, and how you need to change. The who is you, not anybody else. Let other people worry about their problems. It’s none of your business. Keep the faith (even if it’s just a twig on a birch tree) and in time it will come to you too. I promise.

Peace out,

M