"The primary fact that we fail to recognize is our total inability to form a true partnership with another human being." 12X12 Page 53
A spiritual partnership is not a two way street. Before AA all my relationships could be categorized as an “exchange of benefits.” You do stuff for me and I’ll do stuff for you. This arrangement is flimsy because it requires almost perfect balance. Once I do more for you than you do for me, I begin to feel uncomfortable. I can’t stay in this “one down” relationship long before I become dissatisfied and want to get out.
A spiritual relationship is all about giving, expecting nothing in return. I had no experience with a spiritual relationship until I joined AA. The message I received is “we don’t care where you’ve been or what you have done. We are going to love you back to life and we don’t care if you love us back.” This is the message I try to carry. I fail often.
This doesn’t mean I don’t receive anything in return. I do. Only it’s not your love and affection, or even your friendship. My payoff is in good feelings. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing another alcoholic “get it.” Watching as tears of gratitude stream down their faces. I’ve been lucky enough to witness these miracles many times throughout the years. This payoff is more than enough.
St. Francis prayed to become a channel of God's peace. I imagine an infinite reservoir of love with billions of little channels. When my channel is open, cool, clear spiritual water flows through me out into the world. My channel was blocked off for most of my life with fear, anger and guilt. Just like the gunk that clogs my bathroom sink. The Twelve Steps are like Drain-O for my spiritual channel. Slowly, slowly by taking the steps to the best of my ability, my channel is becoming unblocked allowing spiritual love to flow through me. Only then can I experience a true partnership with another.
Last year I served as my wife’s primary caretaker through extensive illness until she died. It was the most painful year to date, but there was also much joy. It’s clear the joy was because my channel was open. I was of maximum service to her without expecting anything in return. I just did the next indicated thing and let the spiritual love flow through me. I certainly would not have volunteered for this experience, but in some weird way, it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me next to getting sober. I know some of you will understand.