Just Today

In Alcoholic’s Anonymous we talk about, “One Day at A Time”. That phrase kept me sober for a long time the last time. I have been living such since I began my new journey. Sometimes, as of late, I get overwhelmed with sobriety; I feel like I’m doing to much. But my past experience shows me if I get farther away from AA, I will drink. Again, another slogan, “Keep it Simple” comes to mind. Here is an example.

Yesterday is written in stone; I can’t change what happened yesterday. Tomorrow is not here; anything can happen tomorrow, whether I want it to or not, so why worry about it. When I concentrate on just today, what I need to do to stay sober, life tends to run more smoothly.

Last week, my Sponsor and I completed Step 7, Step 8 and Step 9. Step 7, I did alone, asking my Higher Power to “remove shortcomings”. For a long time I didn’t know what it meant by “shortcomings”. I later learned, it simply means those defects of character (on Step 4) that can be removed quickly. I trust my Higher Power will do that, when I’m ready, while other defects may take longer, even a lifetime. Step 8, I made my amends list based on my list in Step 4 (moral inventory) and talked with my Sponsor about how I was going make my amends to such people. Step 9, making those amends, may not happen all at once. It may take years or they may never happen and I may have to find an alternative way (“a living amend”) to make such amends.

If you’ve been following me, I use the following analogy to explain the steps:

Think of the 12 Steps as a house; we are relearned to rebuild our lives. Steps 1 through Step 3, is our foundation; if we do not have a solid foundation or there is a crack in it, our house is going to fall down (relapse). Step 4 through Step 9 is like building a new frame, getting new plumping and electrical, etc.; we have looked at our part in our past, recognize we have faults (defects of character), but are willing to “set things right” (amends). Lastly, Step 10 through Step 12, we put on a new roof, fill our house with new things (new behaviors) and open the front door for others to come in (sponsorship and helping others).

With that in mind, I talked to my Sponsor about sponsoring others. We both felt confident at this point in time I was ready. Our recovery community is small with a halfway house, so those willing or who can sponsor are extremely limited. The point is I would not be only helping myself but helping others which ideally is in part what Alcoholics Anonymous is all about – “Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety (AA Preamble)”. Lastly, once I put that out there, I already have an individual to sponsor.

The “community” has asked that a person with six months sobriety or more chair meetings. A majority of those with long term sobriety attend meetings in surrounding areas but do occasionally, some regularly, drop in but they have no interest in chairing the meeting. Then there are those who have more than six months, who just don’t want to chair meetings – period. It’ s becoming a regular schedule for me to chair, on average, of four meetings a week. Unfortunately, I can’t get any relief. Two groups are part of my home group (Wednesday and Saturday), one group I started two months ago (Friday night) and Sunday night people tend to insist if no one else runs it, I do it even grudgingly. However, it honestly gives me time to sit, listen and reflect (relax in a way) of where I’ve been and where I am now. In a way its my time out but can be overwhelming responsibility if I let it get to that point.

We also had a local AA District business meeting this past weekend. I volunteered for two positions. The district website and the registrar. Neither are overwhelming, if I choose not to overwhelm myself. For instance, the website hasn’t been updated in a while. My own selfishness wants to bring everything up to date. Really? If anything, what are two things most important to a person who visits an AA website? One, a list of local meetings. Two, local recovery events. In all honesty, the rest of the information on the website doesn’t matter to most visitors (it shows in the statistics). There is no need to overhaul or change it – this is what “I” want to do, my own selfishness. Instead, I need to concentrate on being useful to others.

*** Break time – went to meeting and guess who chaired – LOL **

The point to my whole rambling is as an addict I could complicate all this like the cliche, “Making a mountain out of a molehill”. It is only through my experiences, if I do can become insane. Instead, I take one thing, one day at a time. What really is important is my sobriety today? Keeping things simple in my life instead of living in a chaotic mess. With that comes much gratitude. I can enjoy the little things in life – my new freedom and happiness.

Came to Believe . . .

In the various 12-Step meetings, they all have adapted the same for Step 2: “Came to believe in a Power Greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” For many, we rejected the idea of God or a Higher Power because “what did He/She/They/Them do for me when I was drinking”? Many nights all those fox hole prayers were never answered. This Step is another stumbling block for many newcomers, even myself.

Throughout the early years of my life, I rejected the Christian God and Christianity in general. It just wasn’t doing anything for me. Specifically, getting me out of the hell hole I was living with an abusive (physical, mental and emotionally) mother and enabling, codependent father. However, I did acknowledge an existence of what I called “a presence” which I found through Nature, Herself. Eventually those beliefs brought me in believing in Those I choose to today, which out of respect for all religions, I simply call my Higher Power.

At the beginning of my sobriety, AA asked me to stop drinking – one day at a time. What? Me? Are you serious? My friend, my lover, my companion, the “thing” that kept me insane from all the insanity in my life? It happened.

As I grew in days and months of my sobriety, now AA asked me to “come to believe in a Power greater than myself to restore me to sanity.” Whoa..wait a minute…put the breaks on! I had my own beliefs and it didn’t include “God”. However, I was reminded of three things from my Sponsor, “If there is anything in this program I ask of you, it is to be honest with yourself and others, an open-mind to experience new ideas and a willingness to try new things.” With much reluctance my response was, “Fine.”

I heard in meetings and was reminded by my Sponsor, which I passed on to those I sponsored later, “Step 2 only says, ‘Came to believe'”. Therefore, with an open mind and my willingness I began to connect with my Higher Power as I knew Them. My trust in Them grew exponentially as time passed. Now, I explain two things to people about this Step to help them out. This didn’t happen over night, it took months, if not years to develop the relationship I have with my Higher Power I have today.

For me, if my gut tells me something is right or wrong; go left, not right; choose the blue box not the red box; I have a choice. Yet, in early sobriety I didn’t choose because I knew no better. However, later on after some experience, I did have a choice. It’s called taking responsibility for my actions and trusting in my Higher Power. For me, my gut is my Higher Power speaking through me. Therefore, if I choose against what my “guy” is telling me, I must accept those consequences.

At a men’s meeting I use to attend to years ago, I will never forget how a friend of mine explained how he practices this Step. “When I don’t know what to do, when I’m in a bad situation, when I think about using, I simply look up and say, ‘Can you help me out?'” Simple, yet revolutionary!

We as alcoholics, addicts, codependents, etc., tend to complicate matters, hence the saying, “Keep it simple, stupid!” Whether you have a religious background or not, it doesn’t matter. Most 12-step programs are spiritual programs. I explain ‘spiritual’ as ‘finding your true Self’. Who do you want to be in recovery – the same piece of shit with two legs meandering through life aimlessly when drinking like I did?

If you haven’t recognized another important part of recovery, it is you can’t do it alone! We have all suffered enough so let others help you, especially in a Higher Power. With the help of a Higher Power, your life will change.

It may be difficult at first to digest this concept. We were all in your shoes. But try one of the two methods I describe above. Don’t think about it, just do it. My Sponsor use to say, “Don’t expect anything. If you expect something and it doesn’t happen, you are only going to disappoint yourself. If you think about it, our addiction will convince us to do otherwise.

Do it just once a day? Do it when you need some help, there is no meeting, you don’t have a Sponsor yet or you just want to practice it. Did it work for you? What happened? Keep working on it.

Eventually connecting with your Higher Power will become second nature. Sometimes in my own life, especially now in my own early sobriety, I use the methods described above. They work. You have to trust and “come to believe in a Higher Power greater than yourself. The second part of the step, “…could restore us to sanity” just comes with time with the practice of the rest of the 12 Steps.

Good luck and remember – Today, don’t drink!