Staying in the Center

I didn't realize I was spiritually sick. I knew my life wasn't going well, but I thought a new job and a new glamorous girlfriend would fix everything. But I couldn't seem to muster the energy to look for work. As my bank balance plummeted, I woke up every morning with an ache of fear in my gut. Mostly I felt empty inside. I drank for relief from the grayness of my life, for some Technicolor.

I searched for answers in self-help books. Almost every week I'd walk to the Crown Books near my apartment and browse the New Age section looking for the solution to my life. I'd carefully select a book, take it home, pour myself a tumbler of wine, and excitedly begin to read. I read titles like Think and Grow Rich, Psycho-cybernetics, and Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. One of the books suggested I lead a God-centered life. This idea resonated with me. I committed to take some of the author's suggestions, but I failed to follow through and nothing changed. A few days later I was back in Crown Books looking for another solution.

It took a while in AA to discover why none of these wonderful books helped me. First I didn't know what my real problem was - alcoholism - and second I learned the ideas in my head can't solve any of my problems because the ideas in my head are the source of ALL my problems. You guys taught me AA is a program of action, not a program of thinking. I got that, but how much action is enough?

I was a week or so sober when our counselor at the treatment center gave us newbies a little exercise. She asked us to estimate the average amount of time we drank and used each day. Generally I started cocktail hour at four thirty and drank until I staggered off to bed at 10:30, so I estimated six hours. I thought this sounded high, so I didn't include weekends and holidays when I often drank all day. Once we had completed our estimates, she said, "Now if you really want to stay sober, you have to spend more time taking recovery actions than you did drinking." I committed to six hours and
fifteen minutes of recovery activities each day. It wasn't as difficult as my ego would have me believe. I was firmly in the center of Alcoholics Anonymous when my sponsor gave me my 90 day chip. I've stayed in the center ever since and life continues to be increasingly wonderful.