Editor’s note: This month we hear a couple of stories including a young person’s experience with sobriety, insights on what it means to turn things over and a report from the North Sea Convention.
I was 22 when I first got into the rooms of AA. Did not like anyone and really didn’t want to stick around. I just wanted to understand how these people don’t drink and can live without killing themselves. The first six months of my sobriety were pure white-knuckling. As I felt too young, too beautiful and too smart to be an alcoholic. People in AA wanted my sobriety more than I did. Finally, I managed to surrender to the idea that I am an alcoholic.
It took me four additional years to surrender my life to the care of a Higher Power. The idea of God scared me from the beginning. I could not understand what God has to do with my daily problems. It scared me to give my WHOLE life to God. I didn’t trust God. I hardly trusted myself. The fear of surrendering kept me away from working the 12 Steps. Those were miserable years. Did a lot of crazy, stupid stuff. With the misery, the desire to drink came back. The only thing that kept me from relapsing was the fear that it might be worse. It was so bad when I was drinking so it terrified me that it could potentially be even worse. At some point, I started planning my relapse. After sharing my brilliant plan with a fellow AA member. He asked what my sponsor was saying about it, I didn’t have one. Then without any moralization, he said if you don’t have a sponsor, you will drink. If you drink, you will die. It was New Year’s and I asked for help. Did not want to surrender, but made the action still.
After saying the 3rd step prayer in my sponsor’s kitchen, came the hope that this program might help me. I was open to the idea to surrender parts of my life. Not everything at once. The hard one was finance. I was afraid that my Higher Power might want me to be super spiritually awake but poor. It was difficult to surrender that area to God. However, I did the action. I was in a financial situation that was dishonest. I was afraid to fix it, but prayed and did the action AA taught me to do. It all worked out well. To this day, I no longer have financial insecurity. I know that my HP has got my back there.
Up to this day, I come across situations that are difficult to surrender to my Higher Power. It is usually because of my fears or control. It needs to bring enough pain for me to do the action. Working through the 12 Steps, I established a lovely relationship with my High Power. So I pray and take action. It always works out the way it should.
Editor’s note: This is an excerpt of a piece that Patrick L. wrote after attending the North Sea Convention (NSC). Please click here to read the full story.
How does such a phenomenon come about? In what is sometimes termed “the spirituality of imperfection” we meet eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart, to celebrate our once seemingly doomed, now revitalized and transformed lives. Recovery is a spiritual process and thus characterized by paradox.
When we admitted our powerlessness, we gained access to a power of higher frequencies than that of the ego which had gotten us into our trouble. When we took that step which, for most, went diametrically against the grain of our default programming, namely when we asked for help, we discovered that what we considered our default patterns were, in reality, the cladding that hid our true essence; cladding comprising multiple layers of survival strategies we developed – and which had protected us – as we navigated the adversities of childhood. Over time, however, they had become liabilities with the power to kill.
A further paradox of recovery is: “If you want to keep it, you’ve got to give it away.” It is that spirit that these four hundred people came together over this past weekend. The energy field thus created is impossible to describe; it must be experienced to be fully grasped. As if in perpetual motion, a dynamic of mutual support and inspiration kicks into gear, the frequency of the field increasing as the weekend progresses.
I am reminded of the image of a group of famished people sitting around a huge cauldron of soup with only spoons of ridiculous length at their disposal. Far longer than a human arm, they make it impossible to feed oneself. Then one person gets the bright idea that they should each feed the person opposite. In this manner, an individual problem is solved through a collective solution. All are ultimately satiated.
– Patrick L.
Turning it over? Who really wants to have to turn their will, their lives, their finances, and their romantic sexual lives over to anyone? Much less a GOD*, higher power, Mother Nature, the universe, sky daddy whatever without knowing exactly what this is? I can’t think of many people that would do that without knowing there was something in it for them if they chose to do that. What’s in it for me? Well, from experience I have found that working a program I started to get breakthrough results, peace of mind, and even cash and prizes by going into the program and steps 100%. I came in backward. I got the results, and decided to try for a larger contact with my imagined higher power, god* if you like, then gently came to believe more and more. But it’s because I got results. Not because I came looking for a god*. One thing I noticed by trying to turn things over to a universe that was more powerful than me, was that I felt less lonely and a lot more powerful. Playing god, and having to do everything myself was exhausting. But when I just trusted that the universe would help me in my earthly pursuits, good things happened. Being human, I wanted more. I actually “made a decision” to want more. When I look at the first half of the 3rd step it was “we made a decision”. I can’t do anything without making a decision to do something. Whether it is kicking ass at work, finding a healthy but fun relationship, or eating an apple, I can’t make it happen unless I decide to do it. It’s not rocket science. When I bring my enthusiasm and add it to the faith that I can try to get better results in my life and work a 12 Step program, I have found I get results. Personally, I would guarantee results, but that’s not an approved message. It’s my message and what I have discovered, however. I feel relief from fear and dread when I turn things over and expect better results. I have come to expect results and I’m not disappointed.
It has been three years of sober life and it feels good. Before that my life was hell before I came into AA. Life looked empty and meaningless. I used to spend money without regard for the future. I was always immersed in self-pity and loathing, which led repeatedly to the drink. Life without alcohol was boring and life with alcohol was a disaster. Somehow my inner feelings always pushed me towards the drink.
I had a decent job with a handsome salary but I refused to stick with it. Over fifteen years, I changed jobs sixteen times. Nothing seemed to suit me. No stability in life. My days were filled with an unfamiliar fear which surrounded me like a dark cloud. I could only do anything with a few drinks inside of me. But after some time, that became impossible. My health declined and I lost a lot of weight. I looked like a skeleton. I knew I was going down and I didn’t know how to stop.
When I went to my first AA speaker meeting, I realized it was something I needed desperately, though my mind resisted. Alcohol had been my best and dearest friend and I didn’t know how to live without it. I had to let it go if I wanted to live.
That was the turning point. I had to choose between a healthy life and an alcohol-filled death. I chose to live. Life without the crutch called alcohol hasn’t been easy. My mind, body, and soul were dependent on alcohol. I didn’t know how to live or even breathe without alcohol in my body.
My other problem is that I’ve always wanted everything to happen like magic in my life. I wanted my health to improve overnight, be fit and strong, wealthy and be super satisfied. It didn’t happen like this and that wasn’t easy.
That was the time when I found my first sponsor and started working the 12 Steps. Since then I have been working the steps every moment of my life. I can’t say I am always happy now. But I am content to be alive to see another day sober and sound in health.