Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Before I begin reading the step line by line, I’ll record my general thoughts as they are right now.
The spiritual awakenings are, for me, of two kinds. Maybe three. First I realized that my drinking was a problem. Next (after years of struggle) I realized I could not stop drinking without accepting and practicing the program of Alcoholics Anonymous with pretty near total effort. Finally, having worked the first step completely and the others very thoroughly, I am a changed person. The drunk who brought me in will not take me out. She doesn’t live here anymore.
Carrying the message. As a confirmed and vetted introvert, I have found the outgoing nature of the program very hard to live with. When I struggled to stop drinking and when I succeeded at staying stopped, I had to reach out in a way that is against my nature. But I had to do it. But I did it. Now, I will not stop going to meetings. I hope that my presence at meetings, yes, because of my number of years, is a living and actual testament that it works. I’ve gone through stages of making myself talk and not making myself talk. I always tell my story when I’m asked to. Nowadays, I’ve given myself a break by not forcing myself to share in the formats where people just pipe up and jump in. Honestly, the thought of doing that gives me the willies. I would do it if I had to, and some day I may yet have to, but not today. When there’s an organized round of turns, I almost always say something. And I try to have that something be at least partially hopeful. I try to talk at least in part about why I’m still here, why I’m still at that meeting, though most of those who began with me are not. I try to give my opinion and advice when I’m asked.
Here’s a defect of mine that I’m not sure what to do with. Someone (through some fault of her own, but mostly due to my fault) has made me feel, at times, like a bad example of sobriety. Number one reason being that I don’t have a sponsor. That’s for another post. But say I’m completely wrong not to have a sponsor. I’m still not sure I’m such a terrible example or that the new people will flee and drink due to my presence. On that topic, and others, I’m reluctant to tell the truth about myself and my program, lest I be a bad example.
I go to one or two meetings a week. After 26 years, I find that sufficient. I tell anyone and everyone to do 90 in 90. After that they can surely cut down. But so many people with 26 years go to one or two meetings a year. Or none. I really expect that should I be fortunate enough to retire one day, I will go to more meetings and be more involved in AA. Sort of as a leisure activity.
But I’m off the topic. I go to meetings, I talk at those meetings when I’m asked to. I try to keep what I say positive, because I am positive, and AA is the most important fact of my life. Writing this is carrying the message. I could keep a private journal, but I’m sharing. Truly I hope to add to the public, though anonymous, literature (if I may call it that) regarding very long term sobriety. Reading those blogs and commenting is carrying the message.
Lord I wish I could practice these principles in all my affairs. I really hope that I get better and better and better at it. I’m so glad the verb in the step is tried. I try. Not hard enough, and not successfully enough. But selfishly, I know that the better I get at it, the happier I will be.
As I write this, Carole has gone to a meeting. She goes to lots of meetings. As a drinker, I think she went to lots of bars. And parties. She’s a very social person. She finds her society mostly in AA.
A few years ago I felt like I was wishing for a growth spurt. I went to more meetings and I heard more of the same. The same important stuff, mostly aimed at the newcomer, mostly having to do with “when I first stopped drinking.” I felt a lack and I listened to a Grapevine CD about oldtimers and I thought about starting an oldtimer meeting (I still do think about that), and I started writing this record.
I try to apply the principles to my family as much as it can fit. I try daily to work the principles more into my work life. I believe that I can never stop learning this stuff, that I can always get better at it as long as life and health endure, and this has been my most important spiritual awakening.