When we have finally admitted without reservation that we are powerless over alcohol, we are apt to breathe a great sigh of relief, saying, “Well, thank God that’s over! I’ll never have to go through that again!” Then we learn, often to our consternation, that this is only the first milestone on the new road we are walking. Still goaded by sheer necessity, we reluctantly come to grips with those serious character flaws that made problem drinkers of us in the first place, flaws which must be dealt with to prevent retreat into alcoholism once again. We will want to be rid of some of these defects, but in some instances this will appear to be an impossible job from which we recoil. And we cling with a passionate persistence to others which are just as disturbing to our equilibrium, because we still enjoy them too much. How can we possibly summon the resolution and the willingness to get rid of such overwhelming compulsions and desires?
I have to admit that I reluctantly approach this step again and again. Sitting down to continue it, I think no, I have to write about prayer! I have abandoned my poor readers without telling them what I’m doing with prayer! I went to a meeting this morning, let me write on those topics while they are still fresh in my mind! My story and this step work are tasks I’d like to avoid. I’d like to just go on writing all the thoughts that 24 years of sobriety has yielded on all but my story and the steps.
But I began this to go farther with the steps, and I know that if I persist I will actually go farther. It’s always worth it but it’s never all pleasant. Sometimes, I think, with some of the action steps, we persist because we want to be done. We’re never done, if we’re lucky, but a fourth or fifth or eighth or ninth done thoroughly and well yields at least a rest period of sorts. Six and seven are buggers. Character defects. I love them, I have them, I want them, I need them. And they are painful to look at and to give up.
This paragraph in particular goes right to my longtimer issues. I understand that back in the day, they went through the steps very quickly and had to face issues of longtimers after a few years. I wonder how they would roll in their graves to see me, sober all my adult life, try to grasp concepts they knew from almost the beginning. Too late to not go there. I’ve gone there but I won’t stay long. It’s been documented again and again how imperfect these people really were. I’m sure they all left this existence with one or two character defects still intact.
The meeting I went to does play in because someone talked about quitting smoking. I quit for the last time four years ago, and I still miss it. During the meeting, I was able to see a man I know across the street. He had gone outside to smoke, and I watched him smoke his cigarette. He’s older than me, not very much older though. And I was jealous. He can still smoke, and I can’t.
Well, no. I can abstain today, and he can’t. Really, would I trade places? Of course not, not in a million years. Smoking, eating, shopping, collecting, spending money, going to church, exercising. Sex. Sometimes they are overwhelming compulsions and desires, and sometimes we just give in. I chose a picture of an empty plate because this seems to be the popular compulsion of so many. I’ve given up drinking and drugs, smoking and swearing, running around and in a way even caffiene. Eating seems to be the compulsion of last resort sometimes, and I and others cling.
Anyway, that’s what comes to my mind when I read this. It’s time for me to step it up a notch. My body is aging, my metabolism has changed. I have to give up more and take better care to be healthy for this time in my life, and to go on, if I can.