Auds here, abstinent and sober just for today, by the grace of God, these fellowships and my own effort.
I have described how on the tenth of January 1980 my obsession with my addiction was lifted from me. I have also said that I know I have another relapse in me but I don't know if I have another recovery in me. How can an obsession be lifted and still I know that I have another relapse doing push ups in the parking lot? Well, I have seen many recovering addicts, in recovery for many years, healthy and happy and unhindered by obsession suddenly and for no apparent reason relapse. The best thing about this program is knowing that I am no better no worse than my fellow so I must acknowledge that relapse could happen to me too.
How to keep this from happening? Well, so far we have followed the path of our founders, sponsors and higher power and we now know a happiness that we could never have envisioned in our using years. So we will take our courage in hand and continue to follow their path. We are told to continue to take our inventory and WHEN we are wrong promptly admit it. Does this mean we must revert to being doormats? Definitely not!! The big book says that we are given a daily reprieve from our addictions contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. How do we do this? For me it is done by working the tenth , eleventh, and twelfth steps.
I need to be at peace with those around me in order to have serenity. I need serenity to stay abstinent and sober ..... sssssooooo.
Promptly has never been in my repertoire but eventually is becoming less long in happening. On page 90 of the AA 12&12 there is something I hear from my sponsor all the time.
"It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there something wrong with us."
"What about justified resentments? If somebody hurts us aren't we entitled to be mad?" We are, of course entitled but at what cost? When I am angry, I feel empowered and rage builds. This is a powerful emotion. When the "how dare theys" invade my spirit, my serenity is out the window. I held resentments against my father for seventeen years (told you promptly wasn't in my repertoire) after his death. When finally I let go I felt such relief, my anger at him disappeared and along with it the need to remember all the "bad daddy" stories. Instead I realized that I had been hating his alcoholism, not the man. It was his actions due to his addiction that I hated. I became able to see that my father was a kind and gentle man when not drunk and acting on all those emotions, that I also felt as an obese alcoholic. It doesn't hurt to admit to 0.56% of responsibility for whatever friction there is in my relationships. Doing so usually ends in clearing the air and renewed friendship.
So here we go again. I do not wear a hair shirt, I do do the things this program suggests as a path to contented recovery.
Dear Higher Power, take away my resentments which turn so quickly to righteous indignation and from there to full blown rage. Let me realize that others in my life are not perfect, as I am not perfect. Let me refrain from immediate reprisal when confronted with a situation that I do not recognize as in any part my fault. Let me step back, maybe say I am sorry that this person views my actions as less than perfect. May I leave out the "but if you hadn't?" May I speak quietly? May I accept that clearing my side of the street might not solve the problem? May I eventually find a solution to the problem and offer it. May I still accept that clearing my side of the street will not always fix the situation? May I remember that it is your will not mine that is my desire. Amen
So lets use an example. A few years ago when I had just retired I felt bereft. I had been a horseman for forty years and now I was a retired what? I had been viewed as an excellent trainer by my peers and of course that fostered self-esteem. Now I was home in Maryland and although happy to be here I felt I had lost a big part of what was best about me. hmmm. slippery place? You betcha. My physical program was okay, I thought my self esteem fine but then came the incident.
We went to a horse show with my grandson and his parents. It was Father's Day. I bought a balloon for my son-in-law that said something good about him and I asked my older grandson to put it under his coat and move it from my car to his father's car.
All of a sudden my daughter yelled at me that I was endangering the well being of all around me as the pony she was holding might object to the balloon and break loose and run amok. I was furious, how dare she assume that the balloon would even be seen by the pony. How dare she assume that I was so stupid that I would after forty years of professionalism and act like an idiot.
I got into my car and put the petal to the metal. I ran up on a log. I revved the engine and backed off the log into a telephone pole. Hmmm. Who now owed who an apology? Certainly not me.
I heard that little voice in my head "whenever people places or things disturb us, there is something wrong with us." That little voice was either my sponsor or my Higher Power ... either way I didn't want to listen to it. I drove for an hour into the country, I ate lunch at a quiet restaurant with a beautiful view, I ate an abstinent meal. I thought about why I was so upset. Eventually I realized my loss of self esteem due to my change in careers somehow allowed me to feel that my whole career as a horseman had been slandered. This was my feeling not my daughter's intention. She was and is a very cautious person where the welfare of others is concerned. She was perfectly right in feeling danger. The fact that I had no intention of doing anything she thought I was going to do engendered my anger. I needed to calm down, reflect on my options before shooting off my mouth.
A bad situation was made better by my admission of oversensitivity. I didn't need to say 'oh I am soo bad." I didn't need to feel 'I am less than." It is progress not perfection we strive for and it doesn't hurt our relationships to realize our perceptions of others are not always correct. Act as if is a big part of this program. Acceptance is the rock of our contentment. So when we are wrong it doesn't mean we are less than, it only means that in that instance we were wrong and if we want contented recovery we need to clean our side of the street. I have said many times I expect unconditional love and slowly I am learning to give it.
It is scary to trust another person with an apology. I was always afraid the other person would use it against me. Sometimes this happens, but that is their quilt not mine. If I don't try to admit to faults made today, tomorrow they will grow into big problems. If I duck people that are uncomfortable to be around due to unresolved issues, I am back into isolation. If I discuss the situation with my sponsor and she points me in a better direction, I "intuitively" know how to handle a baffling situation. Eventually I handle those situations without my sponsors intuition. The Tenth Step like the fourth is not a hair shirt, we should resist wallowing in self recrimination for that is unhealthy and probably a little in the line of false pride. So let's lift our heads high. Let's go forth joyfully to trudge this road of happy destiny. Let's enjoy the journey and pray that we never arrive. Progress not perfection is a comfortable place for me.
Ask yourself, what is so good about being angry with this person place or thing. Can you envision a scenario where this person place or thing's irritation could be beneficial? Could you try to look down the road or back up the road where your perception of something you didn't want became something you were glad of in the end? If nothing else, a clear conscience lets you sleep well and we all need sleep to refresh us and give us energy to do the next right thing.
When faced with difficulty, refrain, reflect before responding. This last sentence is something I hear often at meetings so I must need to have it repeated to me often. So I repeat to you whenever people places or things disturb you look inside and do the next right thing. Your recovery depends on your spiritual condition. Acceptance engenders a healthy spiritual condition. When I am wrong cleaning my side keeps me from false pride and pity parties. I thank God daily for the two drunks that found this path, this road of happy destiny and I thank God that they shared it with me.
As usual take what you need and leave the rest.