Fortunately for me only a bare minimum of honesty, open-mindedness and willingness is required to make a start in sobriety. I don’t really have to be honest, I just have to have the capacity to be honest. If I can say, "my name is Jeff, and I’m an alcoholic" and mean it, I probably have the capacity. Our program doesn’t require me to believe anything. I can take what feels right and leave the rest. So what is there to be close minded about? And all I have to do to demonstrate my willingness is show up at a few meetings each week, drink coffee and laugh at the newcomers’ solutions; talk to my sponsor about my favorite subject -- me; and offer mostly parroted advice to people with less time than me. Seen in this light, I need to stop patting myself on the back for sobriety. It’s nothing I did anyways.
There is one more indispensable quality I would add to the list -- compassion. It’s strange that I can’t find mention of this word anywhere in the Big Book, yet it is critical to my recovery that I learn to care about others. I learn compassion when I connect with you through the shared pain, confusion and anger of our disease. I know what you’ve been through because I’ve been there too. As the saying goes, I’ve walked a mile in your moccasins. Compassion for others melts away my self-centeredness and asks "how can I help?" rather than "what can you do for me?"
I didn’t start out with a bucket full of any of these qualities, but I believe I am more honest, more open-minded, more willing and more compassionate than I was when I walked into my first meeting fifteen years ago today. I consider myself recovered from "a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body," but I also recognize that I am a long way from being fully restored to spiritual sanity of Step Two. I'm no longer hopeless, but I'm not fully recovered either. I guess I'm right on schedule as my first sponsor would say.
As the voice of self hate continues to die down, I am beginning to hear another voice gently reminding me that my sobriety is a precious gift. I fully express my gratitude for this gift by being of service both in and out of the rooms and by continuing to hack away at all my old ideas, beliefs, and attitudes that separate me from you, from the rest of humanity and from God. If I had to guess, I would say that this is the work I was sent here to do.