M(3), 12/15: The Beginning of the End
Today’s reading in the literature rotation for my Monday morning meeting was the first half of step 12 from the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Step 12, the final piece of the 12-step program’s puzzle, is:
Having had a spiritual awakening as the results of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs
Of all the steps, twelve is the longest in terms of reading, mainly because it has three “sub-points” that lie within it:
1. Defining a spiritual awakening, and describing what it looks like
2. Discussing the various and sundry ways in which to carry the message
3. Identifying the various parts of our lives in which the 12-step principles can be practiced
The sharing from today’s half-chapter focused quite a bit on the spiritual angle of the 12-step program, and the benefits the conscious contact with a Higher Power brings to daily life. We had a pretty decent mix of spirituality in the meeting this morning: some find it almost childish to pray to a Higher Power, some consider themselves alternatively spiritual rather than the more classical definition that involves organized religion, and then we have a professional clergyman in our group.
And although every person who shared defined their Higher Power differently, had different interpretations of the term “spiritual awakening,” and had different manifestations of spirituality in their daily lives, all agreed upon this premise: the spiritual component of their recovery not only helped them to get and to stay sober, it enriched their lives in ways they couldn’t have possibly imagined.
For me, step 12 is the one that has been the most transformative, and is the one I reference most in my daily life, so a step 12 meeting is always one I enjoy. But today’s meeting had a special element about which I will share. First, however, I need to lay some groundwork:
This past weekend, which I will write more about in a different post, my husband and I had a delightful “adults only” trip to New York City, where we stayed with one of our best friends in the world. More on the weekend later, but there was one miniscule moment, where through the course of dropping items in the subway station (yuck), I reached in to the pocket of my very old jeans and discovered a hole.
Which then led me down the rabbit hole of a memory from active addiction that included that same hole in the pocket of those same jeans.
In the immediate moment, I was able to shake it off by practicing mindfulness: getting out of my own head and being present in my current circumstances.
On the drive home, however, the debilitating thoughts came back, and I knew the best course of action was to talk about them, to shine some light on the memory in order to dispel it. However, the only available resource was my husband, and my general policy with this type of issue is to avoid burdening him with these thoughts. After all, my bad memories are usually his too, and it is not right to create a memory burden for him in the interest of unburdening myself.
On the other hand, I know he appreciates when I am open with what is on my mind. Back and forth the volley went in my head, and I finally decided to proceed in sharing my inner turmoil.
He did not appear troubled; in fact, he expressed gratitude in my trusting him with these thoughts. When I asked if my reliving this particular experience bothered him, he replied that it made him grateful for the progress that has been made in the years since.
All positives all the way around, because I was able to shake the malaise, although in the back of my mind I did marvel at this ability to compare then and now and feel the difference. I concluded that because I was the centerpiece, I am too close to it to have that particular viewpoint.
Short story long, today’s reading includes the following passage:
When a man or a woman has a spiritual awakening, the most important meaning of it is that he has now become able to do, feel, and believe that which he could not do before on his unaided strength and resources alone. He has been granted a gift which amounts to a new state of consciousness and being. He has been set on a path which tells him he is really going somewhere, that life is not a dead-end, not something to be endured or mastered.
-Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 107
Honestly, even while we read it, nothing really hit me about this section, until a friend re-read it and shared what it meant to him. And then, like a thunderbolt, I had a memory from active addiction, where I consciously thought about life as something to be endured until I was able to alter myself chemically. The meaning of life, while in active addiction, was to hang on until the next time I could drink or ingest something to make it livable.
And the difference between how I lived life then, and how I live life now, was so startling, and so crystal clear, that tears came to my eyes. And in sharing this bittersweet realization with the group, I felt the full power of step twelve in my life.
Love those full-circle moments!
Two weeks ago the regular attendees of the meeting decided to throw together a “causal luncheon” for after the meeting. The “causal luncheon” turned into a feast with homemade lasagna, cakes and cookies, and much more… how lucky am I to know these amazing chefs and bakers?
Posted on December 15, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, AA, Addiction, Alcoholic Anonymous, Alcoholism, fellowship, God, Higher Power, Meeting, Miracle, Monday, Philosophy, Recovery, Religion and Spirituality, self-development, Sobriety, Support Groups, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.