There are literally thousands of organizations that individuals can join in this country. Some are organizations like the Red Cross which provide many services like aid relief and blood drives. Others are political organizations where people work to help elect their favorite candidate. There is probably an organization for every social, economic or political cause in this country. Many people are very enthusiastic when they first join their club or organization. Over time however there are a fairly large number of people who end up leaving. Usually this is because other obligations like work and family need to take precedence.
There is one club in the world where this is definitely not the case. That club is the fellowship of AA, NA, OA and other 12 step programs. Our involvement in the fellowship is of necessity a lifelong commitment. We realize that we cannot rest on the laurels of a particular day. Each day presents new challenges which need to be addressed using the tools of the program. When we distance ourselves for any length of time from the program, our old way of thinking begins to creep back in. We start telling ourselves that we no longer need the program. The truth is that we only have a daily reprieve. Much of that reprieve is dependent on our commitment to the our particular fellowship.
Personal Reflection: How is my program a way of life for me?
Given that this is election season, you will see many people advertising their favorite candidate on the bumpers of their cars. In fact, there are many other bumper sticker categories. Some advertise a particular point of view on a controversial political position. Others through pictorial representation show how many family members and pets are in the family of the car being viewed. Then of course we have humorous bumper stickers about family and life situations. Cars even get their own category with a bumper sticker announcing that the car has climbed a particular mountain road.
On occasion you will also see a 12 step bumper sticker like, “easy does it” or “let go and let G-d”. The driver wants you to know that they are a member of a 12 step program, or perhaps just likes the sentiment of the slogan. For those of us in the program, we think it would be wiser to place the sticker on the dashboard as well. Because we are never cured of our addictive tendencies, it would serve us well to have a constant reminder of a piece of wisdom from the program. Spreading the word about the fellowship is a wonderful sentiment. However, we must always remember that we have a daily reprieve and must do everything in our power to maintain our sobriety.
Personal Reflection: What do I do to keep it green?
Drugs, alcohol and food are very much a part of our culture. There are millions of people who have a glass of wine with dinner. At a social gathering, these same people will have a drink or two over the course of the evening. They do not drink over stress or upset. Their consumption of alcohol over time does not increase.
Many others are recreational drug users. They too in a social situation will share a joint with their friends. They can then go for long periods without smoking.
As far as food is concerned, the majority of people will overindulge periodically. Perhaps they are at a restaurant or at some type of celebration and will go back for seconds or have that dessert even though they are full. The next day, it is perfectly normal for them to resume their regular eating routine.
For those of us who have entered the rooms of AA, NA or OA the story is a quite different one. We don’t know how to stop with one drink, one joint or one food indulgence. Left to our own devices we can literally destroy ourselves because of our drug of choice. The program literally saved our lives.
Personal Reflection: How has the program been a lifesaver for me?
Every year thousands of students look forward to the month of June. That is when they graduate from high school or college. Especially in the case of college, there is often a collective sigh of relief. By that point, many of the students have reached their quota of exam taking and term papers. They want to graduate, begin paying off their student loans and hopefully enter the work force. Many of them never want to open a text book again. They certainly never want to enter a lecture hall again. For them, they have closed the chapter on their education career.
We in the program probably had similar feelings about our formal education. However, when it came to our recovery we felt vey differently. As we began to embark upon our pathway of self discovery, we quickly realized that there was no graduation date. Each day we saw that we needed to go deeper and deeper into our healing. In particular, we found that as we pursued emotional sobriety, it gave us unlimited opportunities for daily work. We also found that when we failed to work on ourselves on a daily basis, we definitely observed slippage. Some of those old character defects came roaring back.
Personal Reflection: What aspect of my recovery am I currently working on?