Over and over again you hear in the rooms how difficult it was for people to enter the program. There was often huge resistance to even going to a meeting. Shame about our disease kept us out of the rooms. Denial that we had a problem prevented us from crossing the threshold. Then, one day, a miracle occurred and we actually made it to a meeting. The bigger miracle was that for many of us, that date became our sobriety date, the first day we refrained from using our drug of choice. Congratulations! That moment was a truly awesome one.
Hopefully we began to realize that a lifetime of personal dysfunction followed us into the rooms. Drugs, alcohol or food were just a symptom of the problem. Our accumulated dysfunction required a lifetime of personal, transformative work. The program provided an excellent framework for beginning that work. In particular, the process of going through the steps could be life altering. The establishment of discipline and commitment by going to meetings and calling our sponsor was also crucial. Everything was laid out in front of us to initiate the process of personal change. What now mattered was our level of engagement. Our failure to do so often catapulted us back into our addiction.
Personal Reflection: What issues of mine still require work?
Many people in this world complain of being stuck. They are in relationships studded with problems, at jobs which they hate or feel are dead ends and they are often facing chronic health issues. When you examine all of these challenges, it quickly becomes clear that many of their issues are reversible. Relationships can be worked on through therapy and programs including 12 step. When these strategies fail, it might be time for them to move on. Work dissatisfaction can often be remedied by switching jobs. Many have also taken courses and training which have yielded professional advancement. Some of us have have embarked on totally new careers based on personal interest. Varied health issues began to clear when we gave up our drug of choice or initiated an exercise regimen or a new food plan.
All of these reversible strategies have one thing in common. They are all based on a program of action. Some of those people who complain of being stuck, will reach a “bottom” and hopefully through a spiritual awakening begin a lifelong journey of change brought about by action. Unfortunately, there are also those who remain deeply unhappy and unhealthy. At the merest suggestion of the necessity of engaging in spiritual and emotional work, the conversation gets changed by them. For this group,we need to pray that they have a spiritual awakening.
Personal Reflection: What areas of my life require taking an action right now?
There have been many situations where we have been frozen in our tracks. Perhaps it just started as a dull aching fear of doing something. We knew it had to be done, but we just couldn’t get ourselves to do it. It might have been something as simple as telling a person “no” about a simple request or asking for a raise at work. Somehow, that small item ballooned into something much larger. As the days passed it seemed to take on a life of its own. We walked around with literally a pained expression on our faces. This triviality now loomed in front of us. At some point, perhaps after speaking to our sponsor or being reflective in a share at a meeting; we felt the resistance lift somewhat. Many of us also surrendered to our Higher power and asked that the resistance be removed for us. Then, we seized that moment and forged ahead through the fear. When we had pushed through to the other side we discovered that once we were able to cut through the resistance, the actual task itself was actually fairly minor in nature. All that worry, concern, fear and pain had been of our own creation, and had now lifted.
Personal Reflection: How do I deal with roadblocks to my moving forward?
In many ways recovery is a paradox. On the one hand, we are of the opinion that you can’t force a person to walk through the doors of NA, OA , AA. or any other program of recovery. Once a person commits to the program, each works the steps at his or her own pace. Some people go thru the steps within their first year, while others take a much longer time.
On the other hand, for greater growth to take place, we often need to push thru our comfort zone. When we are stuck in our process of growth, we need to examine why this is happening. Have we paused because more work is required at that point. Or perhaps, we are “stuck” because we don’t want to leave our comfort zone. At these times we need to push thru our fears which are holding us back. This often involves a leap of faith on our parts. We can also turn to others in the program for feedback and advice. By speaking with others we find that the path we are walking has successfully been trod on by others. Finally, by turning to our Higher Power we often discover a lifting of some of our resistance to change and growth.
Personal Reflection: Do I need to step outside of my comfort zone?