Waking Up

The voice inside my head screamed, "You can't let that bitch talk to you this way, Jeff." Talk about a rude awakening. The therapist I visited to get some friendly direction for my life instead took my inventory. Her exact words were, "you don't have an ounce of humility in your whole body, your brain is so cloudy from your daily drinking you can't hope to get any clarity on your life and you have the emotional maturity of a 13-year-old." I was shocked. She went on to say that she couldn't help me, but maybe the treatment center up the street could. All I thought I needed was a job. Instead she basically suggested I needed to change my whole effing life. No one had ever spoken to me like that before, but as it turned out she was exactly right. Somehow truth penetrated into the core of my being. I  became willing to be changed.

I learned in Alcoholics Anonymous that God sends me uncomfortable experiences, not to punish me but to wake me up. Even after a long period of sobriety, I still want to burrow into a comfortable cocoon and stay there. I don't really want to deal with life on life's terms even though I know that I grow and change by doing so. I heard the first step to waking up is admitting that I really don’t want to wake up.

I believe control in any form is spiritually deadening--even when I'm trying to control how much I drink! My need to control comes from self-centered fear. Like it says in our book I'm afraid I won't get what I need to live comfortably or I’ll  lose something I already have that I can’t live without. This fear causes me to try and control the people and situations in my life. This need to control--to try to impose my will on reality--blocks me from my higher power and causes me all the pain there is.

Giving up control is a slow painful process for me. It sounds so simple. Just let go and let God. Get up in the morning and say the Third Step Prayer and skip on down the road to happy destiny. Talk about delusion!  My faith grows by feeling the fear of a situation, sitting in discomfort, and doing the next indicated thing anyways.  It’s amazing how quickly situations resolve themselves if I just let them be and not try to fix them by imposing my will.

My faith grows every time I walk through an uncomfortable situation without picking up a drink or otherwise trying to change the way I feel. As I grow in faith, my need to control dissolves. Oh, I still have fear, but it no longer paralyzes me. The process of growing my faith pays a lot of dividends. I’m better able  to accept life just the way it is, I’m more comfortable in my own skin, and I no longer need to depend on anyone else to tell me I'm okay. It's simply a great way to live.

We -- The Fellowship of Spirit

I completed a written first step in the treatment center. I saw ample evidence of my powerlessness to resist the first drink and the inevitable consequences of taking it. Yet, I know today that it wasn't the fear of drinking again that kept me coming back. It was the  "We" of our program, the first word of the first step. The Fellowship of the Spirit.

I sensed the magic of “We” at my very first meeting. I was shocked at the honesty and openness of the sharing. I laughed, really laughed, for the first time in years. The clenched fist in my gut began to relax. Our drunk-a-logs were different, but our underlying feelings of fear, self-hate, and anger were exactly the same. I saw I was no longer alone. It felt great and I wanted more. So I kept coming back.

We are unified by a common problem and a common solution. We hear the voice of spirit through the voices of other members. We help ourselves by helping each other. We celebrate each other’s successes and morn each other’s failures. We allow ourselves to be loved and we love in return. In the process we are released from selfishness and division and grow an ever-deepening connection with the God of our own misunderstanding.

It says in the other big book, “Where more than one are gathered in his name, God is present.” God is sometimes hard for me to find when I’m alone, but God seems to magically show up when I’m sitting in a room full of drunks. I can’t stay sober but We can.

Only God

My vision for 2017 is the same as it has been for many years -- to continue to grow along spiritual lines through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I desire to come into a relationship with the God of my own misunderstanding that is so intimate it might be said that God and I are One. Since this is already a fact, there is nothing further for God to do. God’s work is done. Creation is finished. If our partnership is going to flourish this year -- if I really want more harmony, peace and order in my life -- it is up to me to take the actions to align my will with God’s will. I must show up in the present moment, tune into the intuitive messages, and follow the guidance by doing the next indicated thing.

Ego stands in direct opposition to this simple and effective way to live a God-centered life. Ego wants no part of God. Ego wants me to believe that I alone caused the peace, abundance and joy in my life. After all, I’m the one who goes to all the AA meetings; puts my hand out to newcomers; and picks up the phone to share my ESH. According to ego, I’m the one who should pay for all my mistakes with a sense of guilt and self-loathing. Ego even shows up disguised as spirituality to convince me I don’t need God. God is for suckers. I’m really OK, just the way I am. Really.

Ego is not a bad thing, it’s just not a true thing. It is simply a collection of old false ideas born of self-centered fear. Like my alcoholism, it’s not my fault I am holding these fearful ideas. Some fears came through my DNA as a way to avoid being eaten by saber tooth tigers and stomped on by wooly mammoths. Others came from well-meaning but ignorant parents, teachers, priests and society. Because these ideas came from adults, I naively formed beliefs around them. It is these beliefs -- these old ideas -- that block me from a complete realization of God. So my work again this year is to continuously look within and see what's true for me. The Twelve Steps help me with this process.

I’m learning there is no God and ____. There is only God. There’s no God and me. I am just a channel for God's expression.  In the other big book it says “of myself I am nothing, God does the work.” I am closer to this realization than ever before. I’m excited about growing my relationship with God this coming year. I’m glad to be on this path with you.