Recovered or Recovering?

Thankfully, like our first 100 members, I have recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body, but I do not think of myself as a recovered alcoholic. Recovered sounds too much like my spiritual work is complete, like I can sit back and rest on my laurels. My recovery is hardly a permanent, static thing. It is a living, breathing experience of life that changes moment by moment. It is at once a celebration, a grand adventure into the mystery and a reconnecting with the oneness of life and the divine energy that holds it all together. Since I don’t believe the spiritual journey has a finish line, I’ll continue to be a recovering alcoholic until my time is up.

When I first read Step Two on the wall I was confused. (I was confused about a lot of things back then.) Sure I did many stupid things through the years both drunk and sober, some of them more than once, but I certainly wasn't insane. I doubt they would have accepted me in the nut house. Compared to the rest of the world I was pretty normal. Insane? No way. Then it was explained to me that sanity in Step Two is not simply psychological sanity. Sanity in Step Two means spiritual wholeness. Recovery, then for me is the process of being restored to the truth of what I am -- a tiny spark of life before the world got a hold of me. Restored to sanity means that my HP returns me to my original spiritual condition -- the way I was before I left the home office.

I think of recovery as an ongoing process of growing from ego-consciousness to God consciousness. It is the recognition that I am not simply a shivering, fearful human grasping for security, but a full and complete expression of life itself. Standing in the way of my total recovery are hundreds of “old ideas.” These are the false beliefs I inherited from ancestors and those force fed me by my parents, teachers and society as reported on the six o’clock news. These old ideas cause me to believe I am separate from you and God. As a separate self I have no choice but to respond to life fearfully. The Twelve Steps help me become aware of these old ideas, realize the pain they cause myself and others and finally to see they are not true. I suppose it possible for some to achieve a state of complete freedom from these old ideas, but I’m not there yet. Like Bill said in our book, this is not an overnight matter.

My first home group had goodly numbers of newcomers and old timers, but I noticed there as a gap of men with ten to twenty years. I asked my grand sponsor about this one day. “Did they all go out and drink? "Well, some probably do, he said, “but I suspect most feel they are well enough to do life without AA." I asked him why after 30 years he kept coming back. With a twinkle in his eye he said, "Some are satisfied with one bite of the cake, some are satisfied with one slice of the cake. Me, I want the whole damn cake!” I want the whole damn cake too so I think I’ll keep coming back.