As Bill Sees It
Conviction and Compromise, p. 59
One qualification for a useful life is give-and-take, the ability to compromise cheerfully. Compromise comes hard to us “all or nothing” drunks. Nevertheless, we must never lose sight of the fact that progress is nearly always characterized by a series of improving compromises.
Of course, we cannot always compromise. There are circumstances in which it is necessary to stick flat-footed to one’s convictions until the issue is resolved. Deciding when to compromise and when not to compromise always calls for the most careful discrimination.
Twelve Concepts, pp. 39-40
I know that I would not be where I am today, without having a Higher Power in my life. The A.A. program of recovery tells me that abstinence alone is not enough. Basic changes in my behavior, and attitude, are also needed, if I am to remain sober. Coming to believe in a Higher Power happened to me slowly, over time, but today it is a strong faith I have in this Power, and I work to stay in touch with the God of my understanding. I choose to believe in a Higher Power because it gives me strength, serenity, and courage to go forth in my life.
I am blessed with purpose and direction in my life, I am blessed with friends and family who love me, I am blessed with service commitments and dedication to others, I am blessed to have both peace and serenity in my life – which replaces all the turmoil and discontentment of days gone by. I am touched by God in so many ways; I have enough today – enough love, enough strength, enough money to live on, enough faith to remain true to my Higher Power, and enough wisdom to know that I must work to remain open to new ideas, new changes, and new ways of living that I might then be of service to others and to my Higher Power, God.
I have often seen others in the rooms of A.A. that also attend other 12-Step meetings. Sometimes our relationship with others who are also addicted in some fashion, urges us to attend meetings, other than just the A.A. program. Relationships are complex and dynamic – constantly changing and redefining themselves. I know that I have changed in many ways and that my family may not be anticipating this “new me.” There are some who have spouses who are also in recovery of some type, alcoholism and addiction are often referred to as being a “family disease.” I believe this to be true.
There are new groups, and then there are some that have been established for years and years. I am grateful to say that I live in an area where there are many choices, which affords me with variety – that is something I enjoy, on occasion. I like the stability of my “home group” but also the variety of other groups in my “area.” I am grateful for the way this program of recovery has grown and changed over the years – but when it all shakes down, I’ll stick with Alcoholics Anonymous – the original group, and the original Program.
Life can still be challenging, even though I am in recovery. Life can still cause within me fears and discomfort, but – as long as I have a Higher Power in my life, I know I can count on getting help – help from others, help from the Program and help from the God of my understanding. My fears today are more centered on my own future, as an aging parent. I don’t want to become a burden for my daughter and her family – there are times when that worries me. But as I am taught in the Program, I focus on this day, this right now – and try to deal with life as it unfolds for me.
There are many “programs” now. Most of them are based on the Twelve Steps, I am a member of A.A., the original 12-Step Program. It’s good to know there is help available for various challenges. Working the A.A. program has been what has worked in my life for the past 3 years. Like it is said – if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. So until such time as is needed, I will continue to live and love A.A., just as it has been designed. Turning my life over to the care of my HP has been the one action that has been the driving force behind the changes that have occurred in my life. God has taken better care of me than I ever did.
I have made both good choices and bad ones. And it is true that all of these choices were mine regardless of the influence of others in my life. Parents, siblings, husbands, children, and friends have all had an “opinion” or two of what I “should” do. . . but, ultimately the decision and choices were mine. It’s always easy to look back and justify my decisions and choices, in retrospect. But the truth of the matter is that I made some choices that definitely harmed me and others, in many ways. Some of my decisions were based on the opinion of others in my life – and there were times when I choose to do the opposite of what others thought I should do, simply because of who was advising me. I was very rebellious, particularly in my youth.
I LOVE AA’s responsibility statement “I am responsible when anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there, and for that I am responsible.” Which means that I work towards that goal by stepping up for service above and beyond my immediate needs and desires. But my first obligation is towards myself, so that I may have the strength and means to help others, when and where needed. Whatever I share with others, I pray that it is passed on to still others – from member to member. That’s the way this Program works – and today I work towards accepting responsibility for my choices, that I might then pass on to others what I have been blessed to learn.
I had to give up trying to quit drinking, and come to rely on the Program. I came to know that I could not do this alone – I needed a “power” greater than me. I found this power through acceptance and by working to keep an open mind. It was not about religion, it was about the acceptance that those present in the Program had acquired sobriety through belief that together with the help of the unity of the fellowship and a smidgen of faith, that recovery was and is possible. I had to “give up” or “surrender” in order to be blessed with recovery.
I am a different person from the one who walked through the doors of A.A. I have changed over time, the “old me” is not present anymore, instead, a “new me” has been “born.” Recovery is more than just not drinking, it is a way of living that has given me so much more than I ever anticipated. Today, my life has purpose and direction; I have a multitude of friends and have reconnected with my family; I have found a way to live, sober; I am truly blessed beyond measure – as it is said in the Program, there is only one thing I need to change in recovery, and that is everything: everything I say, everything I do and everything I am. The Program gives me the tools to do this, and for all that I remain grateful.
Negative thoughts and feelings can return to me at a moments notice. But I do know today that I can choose to change my thoughts from negative to positive. It may take a little or a lot of effort on my part not to get caught up in the negative – but it is important that I remember that I have the power to decide what I want my mind to focus on. I don’t have to stay in a pattern of negative thoughts, which may lead to negative actions. Because of the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous, I know that it is important for me to recognize those times when negative thoughts creep in. Sometimes that means changing my surroundings, changing my environment in some fashion, or just changing my thoughts by means of prayer, or contact with someone else in the Program. Going to a meeting is always a sure fire way of getting from negative to positive thoughts.
The very best I can do is to take care of myself by resting, by praying, by remembering to eat (hopefully in a healthy manner) and by working to maintain my recovery. Maintaining an attitude of gratitude is also part of that process. I thank God for the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous – there is much to learn, much to do, and many friends to help me along the way. I am not alone anymore – I am literally surrounded by friends of mine and, as always, “Friends of Bill W,” Changing negative thoughts to positive ones is one more way of practicing the Spiritual Principles . . . which tell me there is always Hope, Faith, Courage, Willingness, Love and Service. These Principles remind me that with God’s help I do have the power to “accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” With that said…I’m asking for prayers this week. Being back to work has added 4 hours of commute a day plus 8 hours of work. I AM GRATEFUL, at the same time, this is taking a toll on my already beat down body, not to mention my family. God has a plan, and I will put one foot in front of the other….until something stops me ♥ Thank you Dear Friends!!