Occasionally in the news we hear of a case of extreme sleep walking. A person might have taken the bus to work or driven their car to a take out restaurant all while asleep. When we hear of cases like this, we are grateful that we do not suffer from this condition. The reality is that there is another kind of sleep walking. It’s not of the variety of clinically diagnosed sleep walking. In fact we are fully up and fully conscious. Yet we are still asleep. How is that possible? Because we are asleep to who we really are.
Many of us in the program fell into this category. While we were active, we had a vision of ourselves that was totally distorted. Some of us were full of pride, arrogance and grandiosity. We smugly felt superior to everyone. Then there were those of us who felt we were hopeless cases. We frequently berated ourselves for our inadequacies.
When we finally joined the fellowship, much of that bravado or shame was shed and we were able to take an honest look to discover who we really were. For most of us, this has been an ongoing process. The more we work the program, the more we are able to see who we really are; and to accept and love that person.
Personal Reflection: In what area of my life am I still asleep?
A lot of excuses surround people when they come into the program. Of course the most common is that, “I will never be able to stop drinking or drugging”, along with “I’m too old to begin this program”. There is also a tremendous amount of shame around our past and fear of the future. We are constantly dogged by the inner voices which attempt to discourage us from sobriety. The flow of 12 step is in the opposite direction. Our attention is focused on the here and now. This is why during the first year of sobriety we place such emphasis on day count. At a meeting you will hear someone say, “I have 57 days”, or “4 months since I took my last drink”. Upon hearing this, people will often burst into spontaneous applause. We do so because we are celebrating where you are in this moment. It’s not about the past or future, but your recovery right here, right now. As we grow in our recovery, the same principle also applies. When a person says, “I never qualified before at a meeting”, they are still encouraged to share their experience, strength and hope. After doing so, they will often find that someone deeply identified with their story. Wherever you are along the road to recovery, you can always begin a new chapter of growth.
Personal Reflection: Where is my recovery at this moment?