It has been said that underlying almost all problems is fear. We in the program can definitely identify with that concept. For as long as we can remember, fear permeated our life. For the most part, we weren’t even conscious that we had these feelings. We just knew that something wasn’t working for us. Along the way, we discovered alcohol, drugs or food. These substances didn’t remove the fears we felt. They just buried them down deeper.
When we finally made it into the rooms; we of course gave up our drug of choice. Within a short period of time, all of those old fears came rushing back into our lives. In listening to others in the fellowship we began to understand that many of those fears could be pushed through. All we often needed to do was to take that first step. What had appeared in our minds as an insurmountable and frightening task was frequently something that with effort could be handled. We also began to tap into our Higher Power. Whenever those feelings of fear kicked in, we prayed for the strength and courage to transcend those feelings. In asking for courage to move forward we found that we had inner resources which heretofore had lain dormant.
Personal Reflection: Do I need to pray for courage over a life challenge?
Recently, at a beginner’s meeting a member with 58 days of sobriety was sharing about his day. He was coming home from work on the NYC subway system. When the train pulled into the station, the doors opened, but did not close. He then heard the conductor announcing that the train would be stuck in the station for the next 5 to 10 minutes. After a long day at work, he felt pretty frustrated.
Then he remembered that something like this had happened to him once before. On that occasion, he also had about 58 days. He felt so frustrated and angry back then that he got off the train and immediately went to his drug of choice. He said it was the worst five hours he had ever encountered in his life. With great effort, he came back into the program.
Now, he was sitting on a train with 58 days and the doors of the subway car were wide open. Once again he felt tired and frustrated. This time he stayed put until the doors of the train closed. His day was winding down as he related this story at the meeting.
All of us will face daily challenges. We will feel angry, frustrated and fearful. As long as we don’t get off the train and just wait for the doors to close, we can complete our sober journey.
Personal Reflection: What tools do I use to stay on the train?
A member was complaining that recently his garbage had not been picked up by his local sanitation department. He lives on a dead end street with 7 houses. The garbage truck periodically forgets to service his block. This usually happens when they are running behind schedule. If someone from the block calls the Sanitation Department, the truck will return and pick up the block’s garbage. On this occasion, the truck did not return. Why? For a simple reason. Everyone on the block assumed that another person had called. The aforementioned member realized that this was a good 12 step lesson. One of the things we learn in the program is to be of service. When we see something that needs to be done,we shouldn’t assume that it’s someone else’s job or responsibility. As soon as we see an opportunity for service, we should grab it. Whether it’s making coffee or going on a speaking commitment, our hand should be the first one raised. This of course extends to beyond the rooms as well. If someone asks for our help, we should feel good that they trust us enough to reach out to us. One of the greatest pleasures we can experience is creating something that didn’t exist before. Whether it’s starting a new meeting, creating a blog like this one or reaching out to become someone’s sponsor there is power in the act of creation.
Personal Reflection: How fast does my hand go up in life?
For many reasons many of us had difficulty simply admitting that we were wrong. For some of us it was based on a streak of perfectionism. Were we to admit to being wrong, we would be conceding that we were no longer perfect, something we could not do. There were others who suffered from low,self esteem. They were afraid to publicly show how they really felt about themselves. They would wear the mask of perfection; for to admit to being wrong would just confirm their negative feelings towards themselves.
Over time we learned in the program that admitting we were wrong did not reflect negatively upon us. In fact it was a sign of personal growth. It demonstrated a level of self examination which was praiseworthy. After personal reflection, to admit to an error in judgement was highly laudable. It also demonstrated a,level of courage to be able to admit tor our mistakes. In addition, it showed a degree of personal honesty which did not exist before our sobriety. Over time, it got easier and easier to admit to our mistakes. We took to heart the 12 step statement, “when we were wrong we promptly admitted it”. Paradoxically, as we grew in wisdom, it became easier for us to admit our lack of knowledge and our fallibility.
Personal Reflection: Do I promptly admit it when l’m wrong?
Many of us used to think that if we revealed our problems to others, there was something wrong with us. We had grown up thinking that sharing our feelings indicated that we were somehow weak. We were supposed to somehow solve all of our problems on our own. We had been told not to air our dirty laundry in public. The worst thing in the world was to admit that we were less than perfect. As a result, because we felt we could not share what was going on with us, we repressed a lot of our feelings. We often turned to drugs, or alcohol or unhealthy behaviors to relieve the stress of life. We also made unwise life decisions because we had failed to seek the council of others. Now, in the program we have learned that when we share a problem with others, we often receive good advice. Beyond that, after sharing we often feel that a weight has been lifted from us. The day becomes just a little bit easier.
Personal Reflection: What problem could I share with another person today?