M(3), May 4, 2015: The Most Hopeful Passage In AA
Happy Monday to All! It is a glorious one here in the Northeastern corner of the United States, spring has most definitely sprung!
Today at a fairly crowded Monday morning meeting (15 attendees), we read from the primary text of AA, Alcoholics Anonymous, and I selected what I consider to be the AA reading filled with the most hope for the alcoholic wishing to recover. I am inspired each and every time I read it; today was no exception. In fact, I have a phenomenal “coincidence that of course is not a coincidence” that I will share after I talk about the reading itself.
Alcoholics Anonymous, also referred to as “The Big Book,” is divided into two sections. The first 164 pages is considered the basic text, the “how to” manual for the 12-step program. The second part of the book is a collection of personal stories, in which alcoholics tell their stories of addiction and recovery. The last chapter in the first section, entitled “A Vision for You,” offers a summary of the 12-step program, along with plenty of inspiration to get you started on the journey of sobriety, and it is the chapter we read this morning.
After sharing the different parts in the chapter that spoke most to me this morning, we had no shortage of people willing to share. The first, a regular attendee who celebrated his 2-year anniversary this morning, talked about learning how to “get out from under” the influence of alcohol, as is referenced in the chapter. He shared his stories of trying to failing to stay sober, primarily because he believed he could handle it on his own. Two years ago, he tried a different strategy by walking into the rooms of our fellowship, and he hasn’t looked back since.
A long-time member of the program finds the chapter’s “practical approach to problems” the most enticing element of both the chapter, and the 12-step program itself. He maintains that the 12 steps do a great deal more than keep him sober; they are his personal “how to” manual for living the best life he can live.
Another attendee related to the part of the chapter that describes the alcoholic staying dry on willpower alone, as he was able to do that for many periods of time within his active addiction. But, just like the chapter predicts, each time he used willpower as his method of recovery ended in failure. Now sober for a quarter of a century, he worries more for the people who boast to him that they had a problem with alcohol, but figured it out on their own than the person in the meeting who shares that he is thinking of drinking. Usually the simple act of attending a meeting and sharing what’s going on will dispel the craving, whereas the person doing recovery on their own has nowhere to turn.
Another friend, an infrequent attendee who surprised us by showing up, told us that she found, at long last, the job of her dreams. She insists that she is living proof that the promises we read at every meeting (the 9th step promises, for those who want to look them up online) really do come true.
Then a newcomer to the meeting raised his hand to share. He was not planning on coming to meeting this morning, but something within prompted him to do so, and he is glad he did. He related to a few things that a couple of us shared already, but he particularly related to the attendee who talked about being honest at meetings, and how important it is for sobriety. He said he really struggled this weekend, and those around him attended Cinco de Mayo celebrations. He got through Saturday by isolating in his house, watching movies and such, and then he had to assist a family member who did not make the same choice. Waking up Sunday, he was glad he did not drink the day before, but by the afternoon those old feelings came creeping back. He handled them and is happy to be sober on this Monday morning, and he was grateful to have a place to share this difficulty.
Finally, a regular attendee of the meeting, and one whose wisdom I share regularly on this blog, raised her hand to share. Before I talk about her take-away from this morning’s meeting, I want to share another story of my own, seemingly unrelated to the morning. Last Wednesday, I met a friend in the fellowship for a meeting and lunch; this friend has a sponsor I know very well and is a regular attendee of my meeting. At lunch we are discussing one of the trickier subjects within the 12-step program (who and who not to make amends), and she references her sponsor. I am amazed at her sponsor’s wisdom, I say as much, and I off-handedly comment that maybe it’s time for me to go back through the steps, and resolve some of the unresolved issues I feel I have. Immediately after speculating, I shut down the idea, because this woman is very busy, has lots of sponsees, and it’s not like I’m profoundly suffering and am in desperate need. It was a 3 second asked-and-answered thought process, and our lunch proceeded delightfully.
Back to this morning: my friend who shared this morning is the sponsor of the friend with whom I had lunch last week. I haven’t had a chance to see her in several weeks, just getting a chance to connect with her was blessing enough. She also loves this chapter, and is always grateful to have the opportunity to read it, but what stood out most to her in it is the concept of service, and helping another alcoholic. She then proceeded to share, in as eloquent and persuasive a way as I have ever heard, how much of an honor and privilege it is when she is asked to sponsor another woman in the 12-step program.
I know I’ve said this before, but, really… I can’t make this stuff up!
Of course, I did approach her after the meeting, I did recount my tale from lunch the week before, and that I had considered asking her to take me back through the steps, but felt like it would be asking too much, and that her services would best be served with the still suffering alcoholic, and she more personally explained to me how much she feels strongly she would get more out of the experience than I would (for the record, I don’t believe that, and yes, I did tell her so).
So, short story long, the fates have me going back through the steps, and I am both excited and nervous all at the same time, which I’ll take as a good sign. I’m imagining I’m going to have lots more to write about in the upcoming months. Requirement number one from my new sponsor: call her every day. Friends reading this are doing a sharp inhalation right about now, as the phone and myself do not have a very strong relationship.
To be continued…
As if this morning’s miracle isn’t enough, I am starting a 3-day course on meditation tonight as an early Mother’s Day gift. Oh the things I will have to write about!
Posted on May 4, 2015, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, 12 steps, AA, Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Big Book, Meeting, miracles, Monday, Prayer, Recovery, Sobriety, Support group, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.