Awareness of just who I am, and what that entails is an ongoing process, one that continues to this very day. Age is just a number. Today I believe that I will never stop learning about me; who I am, what I am and where I am. Today my mind is clear enough to grasp the idea of a Power greater than my disease. Today, I know that spiritual acceptance was what I need to “fill the hole.” I never knew that the joy of giving would bring me so much happiness and serenity and would be the one thing that fills that terrible emptiness that no longer drives me nuts. Today I can honestly say that I have stopped looking for an external fix for an internal problem. Thanks to the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I was a rebel from my very early days. It seems, in looking back, that I was always fighting the “accepted” forms of behavior, and rebelling against what others determined as “the norm.” If I was expected to behave in one way, I made sure that I behaved in the opposite of that way. Coming to the rooms of A.A. was, at first, my last hope. I desperately wanted A.A. to work in my life, but being the headstrong rebel I was, I felt quite sure that it would be flawed, just as most of my attempts at “normal” living had been. I failed at much, early in life. I failed as a daughter, I failed as a sister, I failed as a friend, and I just seemed to fail at whatever I attempted – especially when it came to relationships of all sorts. I never “fit in” anywhere, any time. As Zuzu once said ” The way to unwind the bondage is to reach out to my fellow alcoholics, to ask my sponsor for guidance. While I feel the great pull of the gravity of my own self-absorption, I must continually reach instead toward the Steps and sobriety if I am to remain free.” I think that is an amazing suggestion…..don’t you?
The benefits of conformity to A.A. principles was very evident in other members. I could see conformity at work in their lives. The Traditions are a big help in understanding why conformity to the spiritual principles is an essential part of recovery. The Steps teach me about my behavior, while the Traditions teach me about my interactions with others, and how service to others can be of benefit to me. There are consequences for bad behavior, and there are rewards for good behavior – this lesson has been my downfall as of late, but I have reached an understanding. The Spiritual Principles have taught me about “good behavior,” what it is and why I need it. I have quit rebelling against everything and everyone, and am finally coming to terms with my own behaviors and beliefs.
If I can work towards being true to myself, I will have less times of struggle, resentments, and dishonesty. The Spiritual Principles would be at work in my life. All of these fine behaviors will have little impact if I am not true to myself. I cannot lie to myself, I know the truth – at least the truth as it relates to me and sobriety. I do not “follow the crowd” but rather follow my own sense of right and wrong. It may be different than yours – and that’s how it should be. I am my own unique individual, just as each of you are. When I first came to the rooms I had very little self-esteem, but I could see the benefits of sobriety in the faces of others. Just making the decision to admit my defeat over alcohol, and acknowledging the concept of a Higher Power, were the beginnings of recovery, and faith in myself as a valid human being. I believed for many years that I was “damaged goods” and therefore not worthy of anything good. Today I know that was a lie I told myself.
What lies do you tell yourself?
I have little to no control over what others think, believe, feel or how they behave. My focus is on my own behaviors, my own feelings and my own recovery. The “Grapevine” quote for today says it well: “Our mistakes of yesterday can be stepping stones for tomorrow if we do something about them today.” Sharing my experience, strength and hope with others is one way of changing those old behaviors. Admitting my mistakes, growing in mature behavior, and having the willingness to change – all are factors in being true to myself. Honesty is always a “biggie” for me, and that applies here, as well. I sometimes have to dig out my true feelings, that takes time and patience – and if I make a mistake, I can always amend it. My perception of myself has changed. I respect myself more today a little at a time. I have to take that first step. I MUST, or I will die!
Paraphrasing from a book and what I’ve heard at a meeting: Every no, makes room for a yes. Every delay fortifies our patience and allows for time to prepare and mature. Every physical setback forces us to rest and recover, building strength in other ways. Every weakness and temptation heightens are awareness of our need for others and a Higher Power. Every bout of loneliness and depression reminds us to love when we are able. Every embarrassment keeps our sense of humor intact. Every gaping hole of loss could be a window. Maybe every failure isn’t a failure at all, but a blessing in suspicious packaging!!! Gratitude.
I love the idea of random acts of kindness, which can be a wide variety of things. Sometimes it’s simply giving up a parking space for another. I don’t give to make me feel better, but that is the way it turns out, most of the time. Giving anonymously means not only giving without the knowledge of the person I gave to, but it also means not telling others about this act. Not taking credit for the action. It really helps to build self image – I feel good when I do good. I don’t always need a pat on the back, sometimes just knowing that I have done what I could to help another is enough for me. Humility is at work here, and I can always use a larger dose of that. I am still learning to treat myself, occasionally, and the better I treat me, the better I will treat others.