Completely Giving Myself to this Simple Program

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Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program . . .
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I have recovered.  Does that mean that I can and did completely give myself to this simple program?

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In many ways, I would answer “yes” to that question.  I have completely accepted the idea of abstinence that AA espouses.  I understand that I cannot drink anything, at all, no amount, not ever (though I abstain just for today).  I also accept that a drug is a drug and I abstain from all mind-altering mood-changing substances.  I accept the idea that I need to belong to AA and participate in AA in order to maintain my recovery.  I know that I have to keep living by the spiritual principles set down in the Twelve Steps.

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Looking at it this way, I see that it is a simple program (though those steps sure contain some complex ideas, at least to my mind).  I also see that I have to give myself completely.  That doesn’t mean, to me, that I believe and embrace the program 100% of the time.  I mean that I can have doubts or waver, but not for long, and not long enough to drink.  But in my life right now, I really don’t have doubts or waver.  It’s a nice way to be.

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When I do and give less than 100%, it always has to do with my thoughts and conduct in my every day life.  After being in and around AA for so long, I usually know what the right thing to do or think is in most situations.  I have to accept that when I don’t do the right thing, I’ve made a choice, and there are consequences, the least of which may be that it takes me longer to grow and I’m less happy than I could be.  After all, it’s still in the end usually about my happiness, even if I feel happy when I help other people.

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That’s my understanding of completely giving myself to the program today.

January 19, 2015 (this day)

I’m worried about my daughter.  Now a big, huge worry.  She’s mostly OK, mostly great.  But not a tiny worry either.  She is having some life stuff go on, and she’s far away from me.  From everyone, really.  And I worry.

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It’s disturbing to me how quickly and completely my mind sinks into worry.  It is, I am sure, one of the most useless, most corrosive emotions I can feel, and I feel it too often.  I “should” be better by now.

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At my meeting on Saturday, the speaker asked for a blessing of sobriety.  I said this then, and I still hold it very dear.  Though I am worried about my daughter, and I’d like to not worry so much, she is not, I’m pretty sure, worried about me.  That’s because of AA.

A.A.’s Tread Innumerable Paths in their Quest for Faith (Step Two continued)

“This is only one man’s opinion based on his own experience, of course. I must quickly assure you that A.A.’s tread innumerable paths in their quest for faith. If you don’t care for the one I’ve suggested, you’ll be sure to discover one that suits if only you look and listen. Many a man like you has begun to solve the problem by the method of substitution. You can, if you wish, make A.A. itself your ‘higher power.’ Here’s a very large group of people who have solved their alcohol problem. In this respect they are certainly a power greater than you, who have not even come close to a solution. Surely you can have faith in them. Even this minimum of faith will be enough. You will find many members who have crossed the threshold just this way…

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This worked for me.  As I have written, I was anti-religion and anti-God when I came in, but I was able to see that the people of AA were a power higher than me.  It was not suggested to me that I make a person, an inanimate object or anything other than the combined wisdom of AA my higher power.  I was never told to blindly follow any person, and I’ve never heard that suggested.  Making a rock (or some such thing) a higher power is ridiculous, and I can’t see how that would help someone stay sober long enough to begin to grasp the program and really heal.
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As the text suggests, that is just a beginning.  I’ve come to believe that it’s a necessary beginning, and that anyone presenting him or herself at an AA meeting is not handling the alcohol problem satisfactorily alone.  Acknowledging a higher power, whether God or the program, is a needed step on the path to recovery.  A stubborn insistence that no power is greater than me is bound to keep me sick and getting sicker.

Complacency

I went to a meeting last night and someone I see every once in a while, a few times a year, said, “You have long-term sobriety, don’t you?”  I said that I did.  “How much, if you don’t mind me asking,” he said.  “Thirty years,” I said.  “To what do you attribute that?” he asked.

 

And I was struck dumb (quiet) for a long moment.  Then I forced myself to start listing things, because it’s a question that deserves an answer.  I listed a few key things for him, but really, it boils down to not being complacent about my sobriety, ever.

 

I think of “complacent” as meaning lackadaisical and neglectful, but looking it up I see that it can involve being smug, or proud.  I cannot be lackadaisical, neglectful, smug or proud of my sobriety, the length of my sobriety or any other aspect of my sobriety, and it was bitter experience trying and failing to get and stay sober that finally convinced me.

 

I’ve been told enough times that if I don’t care for my sobriety and actively cultivate it, I will lose it.  Honestly at this point there are very few people who have gone longer than I have to tell me if this remains true over several decades.  It doesn’t matter to me anymore whether or not I have to continue in this way.  I want to continue in this way.  And even the slightest risk that I could go back is too much of a risk to take.  And for what?

 

So I listed several factors that I attribute my long-term sobriety to, but I made sure I included the only one I may believe in 100%, and that one is luck.

January 1, 2015 (this day)

I had no alcohol in 2014, and anything else that happened that year hinged on that fact.  I’m not great at remembering when things happened, but I know my daughter moved far away and my work partner’s husband died, and my uncle died.

 

This is a traditional time of year for people to try AA.  I’m so glad we’re there for them, and I hope they can all benefit like I have.