Living Inside Out

In my journey before AA I lived almost entirely from the outside-in. I got totally sucked into the idea that my good would only come to me if I were successful in the world. I entered the maze and began the frantic search for the golden cheese. I strove to get ahead, to achieve, to win at all costs. Today I know that it wasn’t money, power or prestige that I searched for, but the holy grail of self-acceptance.

I achieved a measure of worldly success that felt good for a while but it was never enough. There was always the next mountain to climb. As the years went by, I became increasingly disillusioned and cynical. Toward the end of my drinking my life was so heavy, I had trouble finding the energy to show up. It was in this state, at age 47, that I was graced with a moment of clarity that pierced the walls of my denial. I was allowed to see the truth about what I had become. I was not a vision for you.

The doors to AA swung open to greet me. In a very real way AA reconnected me with life itself. I worked the steps and began to strip away the "old ideas" that blocked me from my Higher Power. I got into the habit of spending some quiet time each morning listening to my internal guidance system. I am learning to be of service both in and out of the rooms. Today I know that the good I had been struggling to find was right inside of me the whole time.

Unlike the painful struggle of my life prior to AA, I’ve noticed that the "right" things for me seem require almost no effort. Almost 12 years ago, unemployed again at age 50, I faxed just one resume overseas and two months later I was working in Shanghai, China. Thus began a wonderful adventure. I have had the chance to resurrect my career and provide for a reasonably secure financial future. A few months after my arrival I met a beautiful young Chinese woman. We celebrate our ten year anniversary next month. Because of a lack of AA’s here with time, I’ve had great opportunities to sponsor I wouldn’t have had back in the US. Some of those men are now sponsoring other men.

I have no idea if my Higher Power sent me to China to work, to marry, or to sponsor. Maybe it is all three or maybe it wasn’t for any of these reasons. All I know is that it certainly had nothing to do with any plan I made. Left to my own devices I’d still be running through the maze afraid that all the cheese would be gone by the time I got there.