First Step

I was unemployed and spending most of every day drinking cheap wine and watching stupid TV. My checking account balance was nearing zero, but I couldn't find the energy to send out a resume or take any other positive actions. I awoke every morning with a growing ache of fear. I just couldn't understand how my life had become so pathetic. I didn't realize I had the disease of alcoholism that was killing me from the inside out.

Finally, I went to a therapist who had helped me quit smoking a few months earlier. I lay on her comfortable leather couch and whined about my life for the better part of an hour. When I was finished she said, "Jeff, I don't think I can help you. You are welcome to come here once a week and pay me $80 to talk about your life, but I don't think it will help." I was shocked. Then she lowered the boom. "From what I know about you, I don't think you have ounce of humility in your whole body, your brain is so cloudy from your daily drinking that you can't hope to get any clarity on your life, and you seem to have the emotional the emotional maturity of a 13 year old."

The voice in my head screamed, "You can't let this bitch talk to you this way!" but somehow I was able to keep my mouth shut. Then she looked right into my eyes -- like she was looking directly at my soul -- and said, "you're in trouble aren't you Jeff?" The voice screamed "don't admit anything, don't let her know." I looked down at my shoes. After a long pregnant pause, I whispered "maybe."

Without knowing it I had just worked the first step. For the first time in my life I admitted there was something I couldn't handle. As it turned out, that "maybe" was just enough ego deflation to allow God to come into my life and work His magic. Three days later I floated into my first AA meeting on a pink cloud of hopefulness and began, for the first time ever, to take responsibility for my life.

Letting Go

My best thinking was that if I had a new high paying job I would get a new girlfriend, get out of debt and live happily ever after. Of course I completely ignored the fact that I had had high paying jobs before and wasn’t anything close to happy or fulfilled, but this time would be different. I wanted God to change my outsides--to fix me--but I never really thought to pray to be changed inside. After all I was a pretty good guy.

It’s still hard for me to see that my life experiences are nothing but a reflection of my inner state of mind. Can’t I get away with holding on to resentment, anger, jealousy and fear--just a little? Nope. Sooner or later pain results and the pain morphs into suffering and the suffering continues until I become willing to let go. Pain is the only way the universe has to get my attention--to remind me that I’m swimming against the current of life. Without knowing it, I lived in spiritual pain for most of my life until I a moment of clarity guided me to Alcoholics Anonymous.

I’m coming to believe that it’s all grace, everything in life is grace. Alcoholism is grace; resisting spiritual help is grace and the resulting pain is grace--all gifts from a loving universe that wants nothing more for me than my highest and best good. I don’t have to learn anything new to receive the keys to the kingdom. All I really have to do is to be willing to let go: let go of everything I think that is right and everything I think that is wrong; let go of big things; let go of little things. Let it all go. The problem is I don't have the power to let go of anything. The best I can do is loosen my grip by working the Twelve Steps to the best of my ability and allow God to do the rest on God's time.