Keeping It Green

My recovery is both a mystery and a miracle to me. It is a mystery because I have no real understanding of God or whatever you want to call God. I can't explain how, after thirty years of daily drinking, the obsession was immediately removed on day one; I've been able to walk through many painful experiences without the need to try and change the way I feel with alcohol, drugs, sex, food, spending or any other quick fix; or how, when confronted with any challenge, large or small, the solution almost immediately presents itself if I am willing to pause and listen. Even though I hear "How It Works" read at every meeting, I still have no idea how it works. Not really. It is still a mystery to me.

My recovery is a miracle because I'm a completely different person than I was when I walked through the doors to my first meeting. My whole attitude and outlook has changed. Today I see the glass half full instead of half empty. I have a full range of emotions, not just fear expressed as anger. The little red veins on the side of my nose have disappeared and the 20 extra pounds of alcoholic bloat I was carrying is gone. Today when I talk to others, I look them in the eyes instead of looking down at my shoes. Today instead of retreating into self-centered isolation, I let others know what's going on with me. I have learned to laugh at myself. My life feels useful and contented. I am happy most of the time.

I never want to forget what it was like before the miracle happened. I keep it green by sharing my drinking experiences freely. My drunk-a-log might be different than yours, but our feelings of fear, self-hate and bewilderment are exactly the same. I was taught that if I want a newcomer to identify with me, I must talk about my drinking and how I was willing to go to any length to change the way I felt, in spite of the potential consequences.

Grateful for the Pain

I heard trying to get spiritual is like standing in water up to my neck trying to get wet. I am already 100% spiritual. I just haven’t fully realized it yet because I continue to believe the old ideas in my head. It is those ideas that had me all alone in my darkened apartment getting drunk twice a day thinking a new job would fix everything.

God is an experience, not an idea. A picture of a glass of water will not quench my thirst. Only the real thing will do. Growing along spiritual lines for me is not about learning anything new. It is about unlearning everything I think is true. The best tool for experiencing more of God in my life and less of my ideas is the practice of  the 12 Steps. The Steps deflate ego, making space for God, the Great Reality, to enter my being and power my life. But I have to remember to practice.

My ego, my false sense of self, wants no part of God or spirituality and certainly no part of AA. AA to ego is like a bucket of water is to the Wicked Witch in the West in the movie "The Wizard of Oz." Ego continues to try and convince me that I’ve been practicing the principles long enough. “You went to a meeting yesterday, Jeff. You’re fine. You can skip today. You’ve got better things to do.”

I’ve been embroiled in a major remodeling project for the past six weeks. I need to move in there in ten days and the place is not ready. I’m running out of time and money. My recovery took a back seat. My spiritual practice slipped down the priority list. I skipped a few meetings. On Monday, I waited for five hours for the TV guy who never showed. I called the TV Company three times and blasted each of the ladies who had the misfortune to answer the phone when I called. My recovery went right out the window. I was so angry I felt sick to my stomach.

Driving home I realized that, one more time, self-righteous anger motivated by fear had gotten the best of me. “Thank you God for the pain.” Without the pain how could I realize I had let up on my program of action and lost my way? Once I realize I am off the beam I can't pick up some AA tools and continue to skip down the yellow brick road on my way back to Kansas.