I had a friend in the program who was an atheist. It was a curiosity for me, until one meeting when an old timer said that his Higher Power was a big, old nail that had been pounded into a post. I talked with him after the meeting and asked him about his “spiritual journey.” As it turned out there are many variations of “God,” or a “Higher Power.” It did not matter what “form” it took, what mattered was that I believe in a power greater than me. I found my Higher Power and today I choose to call mine, God. The idea of being able to define my own greater power gave me the freedom to accept the idea of this “power.” I believe that this “power” is the missing link to sobriety that other programs lack. That’s my belief, as we are each free to define and accept our own spiritual “being.” Open-mindedness and willingness were essential to this process. I also found out that God had not deserted me, it was I who had stepped away from God many years ago.
I am learning to trust my feelings, I am learning to trust myself, and I am learning to trust and believe in my Higher Power, God. I don’t have to react to every feeling I have – I can let the feeling be, let it rest within me for a while. If it is a “good” feeling, it will not change over time. Sometimes my feelings are trying to help me understand the direction God has chosen for me – and sometimes my feelings are just that, feelings. I try not to make decisions when I am angry or upset – as they will often lead me down the wrong path, based on emotion. There are no absolutes when it comes to “rules” of behavior. We each behave differently in any given situation. We feel differently, we think differently, and we believe differently. Basing my actions on just my feelings can lead me down the wrong path, the path to wrong action.
Steps One, Two and Three introduce me to the solution of recovery: abstention from alcohol and drugs – and faith. Steps Four, Five and Six are about getting honest with myself, and my past behaviors. Steps Seven, Eight, and Nine help me to acknowledge my part in my life, and teach me to let go of old ways and strive to be and do better. Steps Ten, Eleven, and Twelve are ways of maintaining my recovery on a daily basis. Having worked these Steps I am now ready to share my spiritual awakening with others, and have come to a place of understanding about the daily necessity of prayer, meditation and service to others. While there is no “cure” for alcoholism, there is a way to peace and serenity through working the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous. One of the things I enjoy most about being in recovery is that I am no longer alone, I have found many, many others with whom I can share my experience, strength and hope. (((HUGS))) to all of you!
I did not possess the power to get and stay sober on my own. I failed at that many times. In the beginning I was worried that A.A. would not work for me because of the spiritual aspect of the Program. But the words “Keep Coming Back” were constantly present in this “new” life. And the more I came back, the more ready I became. I wanted what I saw others had, a firm belief and acceptance of a Higher Power, one that could restore me to sanity and sobriety. The logic of this premise was not to be denied – if the Program worked in the lives of others, was it not then a “higher” power. It was definitely more powerful than anything I had in my life, up to the point of crossing the threshold to recovery. I tried every “solution” I could think of to gain some sanity in my life, nothing worked, until . . . I found the Program of A.A., and my Higher Power, whom I chose to call God.
Gradual change has been my experience in the Program. Just as a gradual acceptance of the spiritual aspect of A.A. has also been my experience. My connection to a Higher Power became apparent to me over time. In the beginning I was not so sure that I would “come to believe,” but today, I can certainly say that I have a God in my life, and am evermore grateful. At first, I tried to justify this God to myself, and for the most part wanted desperately to believe. It was a lot easier to believe when I was faced with so many other sober alcoholics who based their recovery on the spiritual principals. If it worked for them, why could it not work for me. It had to be true, not just words. The idea that A.A. had helped so many alcoholics was but a beginning to my spiritual travels. There was “something” at work in the lives of others – of that I am absolutely sure.
Vigilance is a good, strong word – meaning that I am dedicated to a purpose. In the dictionary it is described as being watchful, or avoiding danger. I strive to be watchful of my state of mind, that I continue to “work” the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous, on a daily basis. Inertia can spell trouble for me. I must always be on the lookout for signs of complacency, as it can lead me right back into my active addiction. A.A. takes action-so much more than mere words or thoughts. Without action I have no growth or change. I can “know” the Twelve Steps, but until I “work” them, I do not benefit from them. I know of people who can recite the Twelve Steps verbatim, but relapse time and again. Taking some form of action on a daily basis keeps me actively going forward – towards recovery. I begin by admitting that I have a problem I can’t “fix.”
I’ve heard the first three Steps defined as “I can’t, God can, I think I’ll let Him.” I know that God has done for me what I could not do for myself. I tried and tried to change my way of living. I tried and tried to just quit drinking. And I tried and tried to be a better person, a better mother, a better etc. But failure was my rule of thumb – until I found A.A. I found that I was capable of change, that there was a glimmer of hope for not just myself but for all the others who were sitting around the tables. In the process of healing my own wounds, I found ways of helping others heal their wounds. The Program is simple in it’s base form; abstention from alcohol and striving towards the spiritual principles are the very basics. With God by my side I have the “power” to do whatever is needed to stay sober, to change and grow – and come to believe.