Spiritual Mystery

The obsession to drink was lifted clean out of me four days before I walked into my first AA meeting. I was getting ready for bed and I became aware I hadn't had a drink or a thought about a drink all day. I found this curious since I drank mostly every day for thirty years. I didn't realize this was a big deal until I read about the double-edged sword in the Doctor's Opinion and listened to countless alcoholics struggle with cravings and relapse. Today I know something of great importance happened to me.

Through the years I've wondered why the compulsion was removed before I attended a meeting, before I had a sponsor, and before I worked the steps. Earlier that day I had signed up for treatment even though I wasn't sure I was alcoholic. Could this be the reason I was set free? Maybe I was just "ready". I don't know. Since I cannot come up with any satisfying explanation about why the obsession was removed, I've come to regard this experience as a spiritual mystery. I chalk it up to Grace, a priceless gift I did nothing to earn.

This first sweet realization of God doing for me what I could not do for myself became the foundation of my faith in a power greater than me. My faith took root in Alcoholics Anonymous and continues to grow in the fertile soil of meetings, steps and service. I've come to realize not only my sobriety, but my entire life is nothing I do and everything God does. Today I believe that God will get me out of any mess I get myself into. I've stopped trying to figure out how or why the obsession was removed, but I give thanks every day that it was. The ability to live comfortably in my own skin without the need to modify reality with alcohol or drugs is simply a great way to live.

Judge Ye Not

When I was new one of my favorite old timers always ended his shares with, "I came for my drinking, but I stay  for my thinking." I haven't had a drink for a while, but I still have the "ism." -- the distorted, irrational  thinking that's etched on my psyche. The ism continues to show up in my life every day, usually in the form of  judgments. I seem to be powerless to stop judging others. Judgments just pop into my head uninvited.

I separated myself from life long before I walked into my first AA meeting. I judged myself better than the bad  people and not as good as the good people. Thus, I felt totally alone even in a crowd of people I knew. This is  a loneliness I believe only an alcoholic truly understands. My recovery journey seems to be about reconnecting  with life and the people in it, but my ego fights to stay separate. Judgement continues to be ego's number one weapon.

Whenever I send out a judgment against another, I not only separate myself from that person, but I separate  myself from  God. My life is unmanageable without God in it. Oh, I probably won't do anything I might get arrested for, but without spirit running my life, happy, joyous and free is out of the question. Suffering on some level is inevitable.

I'm better about this today. Sometimes I can identify with the fear and pain people carry underneath their masks. I'm  learning compassion albeit at a snail's pace. The good news is that judgment no longer feel good. That sense of false superiority is is fading away.  I long to be equal with everyone else in the room -- a worker among workers; a friend among friends. To finally realize,  as one old time used to say, "I'm just another bozo on the bus and I'm not the driver."

Detach with Love

Years ago I remember seeing an interview of George McGovern by Barbara Walters. McGovern was a former presidential candidate. He had five beautiful daughters. One had our disease. Despite numerous treatment centers and attempts at sobriety, she passed out drunk in the snow and froze to death. McGovern had tears in his eyes. He said he just never knew when to be tough and when to be soft. I can identify.

Ala-non teaches detachment with love. This has to be the most difficult thing a human can do. We are asked to watch people we care about make self destructive choices putting themselves in harms way while we sit on our hands. Yet that is exactly what is asked of us.

As soon as I put myself between the alcoholic and the consequences of his thinking and actions, I am trying to do God's job. The best thing I can do is let the person know I am available to help if and when he wants what I have. Whether anyone "gets it" or not is none of my business.

Step Three

I immediately identified the first time I read Step Three in our book. The well-meaning actor driven by a hundred forms of fear who felt compelled to control every aspect of his life and the lives of everyone close to him. I was that guy! I felt like a juggler with a dozen balls in the air, scared to death to take my eye off the balls for one second. It was a miserable way to live, but I didn’t know any other way. It was the way my father lived. Alcohol made the high anxiety bearable for both of us.

I held it together for thirty years. Then one by one each of the balls began to hit the ground. First it was my first marriage, then my job, then my finances, then my friends, finally my interest in life itself. At the end I was a dead man walking — living in the delusion that a new job would fix everything, but I had no real energy to even send out a resume. I didn’t realize until many years in recovery alcohol and drugs were not the problem. My fearful need to control was the problem. I learned control in any form is spiritually deadening. Even the need to control my drinking!

I signed up for treatment because I didn’t know what else to do. A day later — before my first meeting, before I got a sponsor, before I worked any steps — the obsession to drink was removed. I had no idea how this happened. Apparently I was ready. I was lifted up on a pink cloud. My first taste of freedom was delicious. Like any good alcoholic I wanted more so I began a vigorous program of action that continues today.

Turning my will and life over to my HP seems to happen naturally as self-centered fear continues to dissolve in the light of the twelve steps. Sure I still want to get my way, but I rarely get upset when I don’t. I’ve learned that if it happens, it’s God’s will. Every time I argue with reality, I lose. I’ve come to believe God has my best interest at heart. God’s will for me is abundance, peace, enjoyment and creativity. I experience none of these things when I’m trying to force my will on life. God is ready, willing and able to continue to lavish me with these gifts. All God asks in return is for me to love more.