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Becoming Ready

I’m coming to believe I needed every single painful experience to become ready for the miracle of recovery. I needed to drink every drink, take every drug, and tell every lie. I needed the two drunk driving arrest with nights in jail; the divorce; the bankruptcy; all the arguments with loved ones; the stupid decisions; the job losses; flunking out of college; and all the rest. I couldn’t have done with one less of anything. Which drink could I have passed up?

The Bedevilments on page 52 of our book describe what it was like for me before AA.  I was having trouble with personal relationships. I lived with the loneliness I believe only alcoholics truly understand. I was filled with resentment and simmering anger. I was taking Prozac for depression. I was unemployed and running out of money but unable to muster up the energy to look for work. I woke up every morning with an ache of fear in my gut. I wasn’t any real help to other people because I didn’t really care about other people unless they had something I wanted. I had no energy or enthusiasm for anything other than drinking and using. I was dead inside. Toward the end, everything was shades of gray. I drank for technicolor.

I’m so grateful for the “what it was like” part of my story. I needed all the pain I suffered over my thirty year drinking career to become ready to receive the priceless gift of willingness. Today I consider my alcoholism a blessing. There’s no way I could have traveled from where I was twenty five years ago to where I am today without having a disease that was going to kill me unless I treated it spiritually.

Change

I heard a young man was filling out a job application for work in a department store. On the first page he put down all the necessary information about himself including past employment. Then he turned the application over. The first question on the back was, “Have you ever been arrested?” The man checked the box marked, “No”. On the next line was the word, “Why?” Meaning if he had been arrested what was the reason. The young man wrote, “because I’ve never been caught.” That young man was me.  Until I could learn to catch myself saying and doing unloving things, I could not change.

I went through the better part of my life on auto-pilot, totally unaware of my words and deeds. I lied, cheated and stole. I judged, criticized and condemned most everyone on the planet. I rationalized, justified and minimized my actions because, in my mind, I was a pretty good guy. Only in the past few years have I realized that the self centered fear behind my actions separated me from you, God and everything good in the world. It’s no wonder I ended up in extreme isolation suffering a loneliness that I believe only an alcoholic truly understands.

It was in this painful state that God graced me with a moment of clarity that led me to Alcoholics Anonymous. I felt at home for the first time in my life and the obsession was removed on the first day. I wanted what you had so I did what you did. Slowly I began to change.

I’m no saint, but today even the perfectionist in me must admit that I have changed in some deep meaningful way. Today I look people in the eye when I'm talking with them. I’m quicker to forgive because I understand that, like me, people don’t have a choice but to do what they do. I don’t always have to flip off a driver who does something stupid. Mostly my life feels peaceful and serene. I often catch myself feeling happy for no particular reason. I realize God is doing for me what I could not do for myself.


Other's First

When I was new, there was an old timer in my home group who shared often about the spiritual love one alcoholic has for another. I had no idea what he was talking about. The only kind of love I knew back then was the kind of love you see in the movies -- sticky, demanding, conditional love. Today I know spiritual love makes no demands, expects nothing in return. This is the way I was sponsored and the way I try to sponsor others.

Spiritual love is Grace--a gift from a loving universe. There is nothing I can do to earn this gift, but there are things I can do to experience this gift in my life. The most powerful mindset I can have to experience Grace in my life is to put others first. I always thought the secret for a happy life was to be loved. In Alcoholics Anonymous I learned the secret is to be loving.

Spiritual love does not begin or end with me. It begins at the source, with God, and flows through me out into the world. My job is to become a channel for this love.  Putting my hand out to newcomers, passing on what was so freely given to me, and being of service in any way I can open my channel  for spiritual love to flow through me. When the love is flowing, there is no possible way I would drink. No possible way.