Carrying the message of A.A. is the first part of Step Twelve. The second part is to “practice these principles in all our affairs.” There is a spiritual principle that serves as a guide to each of the Twelve Steps. Step One is Honesty – can we honestly admit that we are powerless over alcohol? Recovery requires complete honesty, if we are to claim sobriety. We need to honestly look at our lives in the past if we are to have any hope for our future. Step Two is Hope. Coming to believe in a power greater than ourselves gave me a feeling of hope I had never experienced before. Step Three is Faith – I had to make a decision to turn my life and will over to a Higher Power, a power greater than me, and greater than my disease; a power I chose to call God. This required faith in this power, faith in the Program and faith in my ability to claim sobriety. Seeing the sobriety of others encouraged my own sobriety and gave me faith that I, too, could claim recovery. Sharing my experience, strength and hope with others followed as I came to see the benefits of readiness to serve others – I am free to share, I am free to serve.
When I first came to the rooms of A.A., I was unsure that this was my “solution.” I had been looking for a way out of the misery of drinking for years and years. In the beginning I had to get over the “God” hurdle, and was wisely told to put that on the “back burner” and to just focus on the meetings. I was so desperate I actually followed directions – a first for me. I wanted what others had. There was a whole room full of people who were living lives of recovery, and they were happy to be in the Program. They certainly had a peace and a happiness that I had yet to have – I stayed, wanting to know their “secret.” As it turned out the “secret” was there was no secret, it was a matter of being willing to change, willing to be completely honest, and remaining open to new ideas and different solutions to old problems. I found a whole roomful of people whose background and life had similarities to mine. I related much to what others said, and felt a kinship unlike other friendships I had before recovery.
I know there are times when I want and need to talk with another alcoholic. One that is in the Program. Talking to a “normie” gets me things like “Well, why don’t you just change (or not do that anymore).” Their experience has been very different than my experience and many simply do not “get it.” When I talk to another alcoholic it’s on many different levels; spiritual, mental, social and physical. Most of the time when I talk to others it’s more on the surface, like talking about the weather or news events. I need friends that will speak as truly as they can and that will pull my covers and not let me get away with lying to myself or others. Friends that have lived through tough times and will understand when I get confused, sad, lonely, or just plain down. They allow me to talk without trying to fix me – instead they listen and accept what I say as being my truth. They are uniquely useful as they know me, they understand me and they accept me – just as I am.
When someone in the rooms says “I know how you feel,” I believe they do. They have been where I have been, they have felt what I have felt, and they have experienced what I have experienced. In A.A. we share our stories, and those who are listening sometimes hear their own story, their own experiences being described by another. In the beginning newcomers are encouraged to look for the similarities not the differences of those in the rooms. Many times when young people come to the program, they see a room that is quite often full of people who are not so young anymore and they wonder if the Program will work for them. Then, in the course of sharing they hear exactly what they need to hear, and come to know that it’s not our differences that matter, it’s our similarities. We all have the same disease and we are all looking for a solution to what we have come to know as alcoholism. There is more to alcoholism than drinking.
There is lots of literature available through the Program, and it never hurts to enlarge my understanding of this disease. It is a disease of heart, body and soul. The better I understand the disease, the better my knowledge of what I can or cannot do. Knowledge can be powerful, yes, but faith and knowledge together form an amazing pair. I know that the stronger my faith, the stronger us the program of recovery. There are many forms of action I can take to deepen my resolve to remain sober. The basics are working the Steps, attending meetings, reading the literature, prayer and meditation, having and using a sponsor, believing in and accepting a God of my understanding. We each develop our own form of recovery, no two of us are exactly the same. That diversity enables me to learn from all others, regardless of their definition of the Program. Our goal, our heart’s desire is the same – to stay sober and help others.
Gradually, day by day, I gained knowledge and insight into this wonderful thing called recovery. One of the biggest factors in my coming to the Program was my absolute fear of being alone and that my disease would overtake me and next time I would not survive. My fear was bigger than my discomfort at the meetings and I found the courage I needed to step over that threshold into the rooms of A.A. It was a decision that I have never regretted. I found a place where I was not only accepted but was loved until I learned to love myself. Today I no longer wish to destroy myself with alcohol. Instead, my days are filled with purpose and direction. Working the Steps, attending meetings, being of service – all of that and more tell me I have found my “home.”
Since ive been sober I have learned to survive, and beyond that I have learned to live a life of enjoyment, peace and contentment. I have learned much from the Program and turn to it and to my Higher Power, whenever the insanity of life claims a place in my brain. I am grateful for A.A. as the Program helps me to not only remain sober but to enjoy a life unlike anything I have ever known. I am blessed to be sober, to know that my life today is not just something to be endured, it is something to be enjoyed.