It wasn’t until I came to the Program of A.A. that I pulled my “blanket” back far enough to see the truth of my life. I grew up feeling that I was a failure and not understanding how that had happened. No one had any faith in me and I was labeled as “rotten to the core,” which I was told on more than one occasion. So I grew up not having any faith in myself or in this process called “life.” I was a failure and I hadn’t even grown up, as yet. I spent much of my life denying the labels others placed on me. And there were many instances when I said to heck with it and behaved in ways that I thought others expected of me. I gave up trying to be good. I became good at being bad. I lived “down” to their expectations of me. The only thing in me that showed any sign of good was my “smarts” and that did not get encouraged through education until much later in my life. It was only when I came to A.A. that I began to “uncover” my truth and begin to deal with my issues and problems.
My home is my sanctuary, a place where I can commune with my Higher Power, a place where sponsees can meet with me – and feel safe and comfortable. I can have it as quiet as I like or as noisy as I want. I am blessed. I feel fortunate to have found a place where I can live comfortably, visit with others, practice living in recovery, or meditate with my Higher Power. One day at a time.
“At one time. . .every A.A. group had many membership rules. Everybody was scared witless that something or somebody would capsize the boat. . .The total list was a mile long. If all those rules had been in effect everywhere, nobody could have possibly joined A.A. at all. . .”
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 139-40
I’m grateful that the Third Tradition only requires of me a desire to stop drinking. I had been breaking promises for years. In the Fellowship I didn’t have to make promises, I didn’t have to concentrate. It only required my attending one meeting, in a foggy condition, to know I was home. I didn’t have to pledge undying love. Here, strangers hugged me. “It gets better,” they said, and “One day at a time, you can do it.” They were no longer strangers, but caring friends. I ask God to help me to reach out to people desiring sobriety, and to, please, keep me grateful!
It is my legacy to share my story with others. To be of service to whomever presents themselves. To work towards unity, service and recovery. I share my experience, strength, and hope with others through prayer, the Program, and our shared faith in a Higher Power. It takes the combined efforts of the Program, my faith, and my daily dedication to recovery through this medium – this is what keeps me sober. My very happiness relies on my recovery. I know it is not only the right path for me, it is truly the only path. It is this path that enables me to hope for more than the misery that was my life before A.A. The fact of sharing is what blesses me with a life worth while. One that tells me that I am just one among many and as such can relate my story in the hopes of helping others in their journey to sobriety, serenity and courage.
Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now. . . . the dark past is . . . the key to life and happiness for others.
Alcoholics Anonymous, p.124
Since I have been sober, I have been healed of many pains: deceiving my partner, deserting my best friend, and spoiling my mother’s hopes for my life. In each case someone in the program told me of a similar problem, and I was able to share what happened to me. When my story was told, both of us got up with lighter hearts.
Happiness – a definition: A state of well-being and contentment; a pleasurable or satisfying experience; joy.
Happiness is not something I am blessed with twenty-four hours a day, it is a fleeting feeling that comes and goes at will. I have moments of being happy, of sheer joy, of feeling good about where I am and who I am; but these are not constant feelings, and there is no “pattern” to them. My happiness does not depend on the actions of others but more on the acceptance of happiness as a gift. It has nothing to do with accumulating “stuff.” I am happy to be sober, and I am not happy when my thoughts turn negative and I focus on what I don’t have, instead of being grateful for what I do have. Life can be challenging. I am grateful for the Program that teaches me to Let Go and Let God.
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS , p. 63
Many times in my alcoholic state, I drank to establish a bond between myself and others, but I succeeded only in establishing the bondage of alcoholic loneliness. Through the A.A. way of life, I have received the gift of bonding – with those who were there before me, with those who are there now, and with those yet to come. For this gracious gift from God, I am forever grateful.