Web Exclusive: I Fell to My Knees and Simply Prayed, ‘Help’
I am celebrating 18 months of sobriety! Words aren’t enough to express the gratitude I feel.
I believe the way I can properly show God and Alcoholics Anonymous my tremendous gratitude today is by loving his other children, not just in their presence but out of their presence and with my mind. (Remember, we have a thinking problem).
What I think about is crucial since this is a fundamental problem for alcoholics in particular. We have a ‘thinking disease.’ Our thinking is so utterly backward and so selfish that I believe in making every effort on my part to discipline my thoughts. Recovery works from the inside out. This means I adhere to the principles of the program fiercely today in my life. I do a written Tenth Step every day without. A lot more happens in a 24-period than we know, and if we don’t remain current with ourselves, it is impossible to maintain rigorous honesty.
There is a pamphlet called "The Four Absolutes," and it addresses seeking the truth (honesty). Bill Wilson maintains we must seek the truth every day (our truth) because falsity appears without effort. How often have we heard in a meeting someone say when picking up a start-over token, "How did I ever get back to this place?"
In part, the answer to this question lies, in my opinion in the absence of the Tenth Step. If we forget, (and we have very quick forgetters) who we are in terms of our disease, we fall prey to thinking we're all right. There's a reason "How it Works" uses the words; cunning, baffling, and powerful. This disease is insidious and can convince us that we have more important things to do than take time in the morning (or evening, but within 24 hours) to read our daily meditation(s). We rush around in our lives today thinking (erroneously) prayer isn't an essential part to our recovery and as far as the Tenth Step goes, who has time for that?
We end up miserable even if we're not actively drinking. We end up with “sodriety” (so-dry-ity) instead of sobriety which isn't a picnic for us or those around us. Sometimes we get lost enough that we believe what our minds tell us about picking up a drink, and before we know it the gates of hell have re-opened in our lives and it is much easier to get into hell than it is to get out.
We have beautiful, simple instructions that work. We see them working. I see them working in my life, and we see them transform the lives of others. It seems the people who exude the most joy, assurance and genuine ease with themselves are the ones who place their spiritual condition first.
I didn't decide to place my spiritual condition first to be noticed, (I had no “good” reputation to maintain!) or because I wanted to run for office, but because as it turns out, this is what gives me all I ever wanted—all I looked for in the bottle but couldn’t find. Through AA, I discovered through the principles there is peace of mind, and the ability to be my own friend, to know how to care for myself and properly relate to other human beings. For the longest time I was clueless.
I am 43 years old. My recovery path was brutally painful because I couldn't seem to grasp this program. I wanted it, but in the book, A New Pair of Glasses, writer Chuck C. states, "You can't see until you can see and you can't hear until you can hear."
I am very fortunate I kept coming back and stayed alive but I lost a lot during the process, but not nearly as much as I could have. God is good. I lost my nursing license, had no friends, I repeatedly lost jobs, had a car repossessed, filed for bankruptcy, came very close to losing my children, but the thing I lost that hurt the most was hope. I laid in bed for days and days with thick comforters nailed over the windows because I couldn't stand the light of day, I couldn't stand life. I didn't want to be alive, but I've never believed in the notion of suicide. I have never bought into the idea you could just off yourself and go to sleep for eternity or go to some heavenly place. My gut is that somehow, some way, our lives have to be reconciled, if not in this life, perhaps the next.
I was horribly stuck being alive in the sense of breathing, but a walking corpse would best describe my bottom. I called someone in the program who knew me that had been sober for many years and asked: "Please, tell me, do you think I am hopeless? Please just tell me now." He replied that I was not, and encouraged me to keep coming back. This was painful for me as it is for anyone who struggles to embrace the simplicity of the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. The greater pain though, would have been in giving up myself.
That day I fell to my knees and simply prayed, "Help." Over the next eighteen months my life would change and evolve as I embraced the twelve steps with all of the vigor I had, and today I have been blessed to have women that I sponsor. Not only that, but I have faith, the kind of faith that energizes me and when I wake up in the morning (early) I am happy to be on the planet and have begun to learn how to enjoy life, sober.
I mentioned I wake up early only because I used to sleep as much as I could. I found reality so distasteful, so unbearable, that if I wasn't under the influence, I would use sleeping as an escape. I figured, why get up early and start reality any sooner than I have to?! Today, thanks to my Higher Power, the literature and writings of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the love and support from my brothers and sisters in the program, I've made peace with reality and experience something like true joy. What could be better than this?