Every now and again I have a bit of a pity party. It’s the one that goes like this, “Why did this happen to me? Why can’t I be like normal people? Why do I have to work the 12 steps the rest of my life?”
Can you hear the baby crying in the background? Because I can. I don’t know how often this happens, and I would say that it’s happening less and less, but it still happens. Usually around the same time I start softening my bottom lines, quit doing daily study and meditation, or stop calling a friend to do 10th steps. Coincidence? I think not.
The last time I had a moment like this was two weeks ago. Each morning when I get up as part of my daily routine I will say my prayers and ask God what He wants me to do that day to help the addict and to help my family and friends. I try to write down any impressions I get and then that becomes my to-do list for the day. At the end of the day I see how I did and talk to God about what He thinks about my day and what I could do better and then I go to bed.
When I start back sliding a little bit in my daily routine I also find myself sliding away from God at the same time. Either I’m not as heartfelt in my prayers or I find that I’m on the 5th day of the same to-do list I had five days ago. Basically, I’ve stopped doing the things I felt impressed from God to do for Him. I’m not working my steps. That should be a big alarm for me but it generally turns into me whining about not being normal. Effectively, I’m telling God, “I want to do whatever I want, not what you want. I want to be in control, not you.” If you’re an addict like me, you know exactly how the end of that story goes. The heart of our addiction is selfishness and out of that selfishness comes the desire to control everything around us. Not healthy.
Then came my Tuesday night meeting. I love that meeting and really have a strong fellowship with the guys who attend. One of the original founders of the group was there that night (hadn’t seen him in a good month). After our meeting where we study the AA big book as it pertains to addiction, we open up the conversation to a general fellowship for Q&A, getting current, finding or working with a sponsor, etc. The founder opened up the conversation by stating, “I just reset my clock on my 2.5 years of sobriety to day 1 again. I acted out on the weekend and I wanted to come clean with everyone in the room and own what I did.” It was silent followed by words of affirmation from the group that we appreciated his honesty and his guts in coming forward.
That rocked my world.
Here was one of the stalwarts. One of the strong ones. Someone I looked up to. He fell. If he can fall, what about me? I had always wondered what the answer to that was. I kind of knew but was ignoring it and didn’t want to think about it. But the truth is, of course it can happen to me. He softened his routine, he eased up on his bottom lines, and most importantly, he quit doing his 10th steps — something I’d been delaying as well for some time now.
I cannot tell you how grateful I am to that brother for sharing his story with us. For having the integrity to be honest with himself, with us, and with God. He’s back on the path. He’s strong again. He’ll be okay.
Which means, if it ever happens to me, I’ll be okay. I won’t quit. I’ll do whatever it takes to get going again and keep going. That’s the heart of step one: recognizing our hopeless state and being willing to change it no matter what it takes.
I feel stronger for hearing his experience. It changed me. It lifted me. It gives me hope that there’s always a brighter future no matter what comes my way, because I know how to return to God and give it to Him.
Which is exactly the first thing I did when I went home. I called my sponsor and we chatted about the things I’d been holding on to. Resentments, anger, frustrations. These may seem trivial to the average person — but they are a deadly poison to the addict. (Frankly, I would argue that it’s a deadly poison to whomever holds them but that’s a topic for another day.)
I feel great again! I feel like I’m back on the path and I want to be there. I want to be there because I enjoy it, because it’s rewarding to work with others, and I feel God’s love when I offer Him my will each day.
I’m nowhere near perfect, but I feel like I’m on the right path and I feel like God is on my side and if He’s on our side, who can be against us? You can do this, too! If you’ve fallen off your path, get back on it. Call up your sponsor. Find a new sponsor. If you haven’t found your path, join a 12 step program. If you’ve been on the path for a while and need to be rejuvenated become a sponsor. Check in with your group. Whatever it takes — do it and do it now! And enjoy it 🙂
My name is Mike