Repeatedly in the rooms one hears people saying that one day they suddenly had this overwhelming feeling that they had had enough of their drinking, drugging or binging on food. For many of them this became their sober date. What they failed to mention is that in the past they had made similar declarations. Yet the next day they returned to their addictive behavior. Why did this last statement of contrition work?
Perhaps it can be likened to a combination lock. It can only work when all of the cylinders are aligned and click into place. The same is true of sobriety. Only when the right combination of circumstances falls into place does our proclamation of our last drink or drug hold true. Why did all of those circumstances align so that we finally, finally had the resolve to put down our drug of choice. Prior to that, left to our own devices we repeatedly had failed. We believe that it was only through the intercession of a power greater than ourselves that we we were able to say for the very last time that we were sick and tired of being sick and tired. The last cylinder clicked into place and we were finally on the road to recovery.
Personal Reflection: What locks continue to be opened for me through my Higher Power?
There is a common expression which says that some people carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. The reality is that all of us have responsibilities. As we grow in emotional sobriety our responsibilities often increase. Work, family and service fill a void that existed while we were active. These aspects of life are normal, unavoidable and appropriate for a person to carry.
There are a number of other items that many people carry which are unnecessary weights on their shoulders. Many of these are rooted in guilt. People have such strong guilt about the past that they cannot let go of it. Carrying this guilt has absolutely no purpose. It in no way helps the person recover from their feelings. It also doesn’t improve the lives of the ones they think they’ve hurt.
People also sometimes carry feelings of undo responsibility around with them. Our codependency leads us to carry the burden of constantly seeking the approval of others. In the vast majority of cases we will never receive the love or approval from others which they think they deserve. The best course of action is to release ourselves from guilt and codependence.
Personal Reflection: What burdens do I need to let go of?
We are unabashed defenders of a belief in our Higher Power. This belief for many of us did not come easy. We had tried to stop using our drug of choice without success. It was only when we had reached our bottom, that we surrendered and asked G-d to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. Some of those bottoms were pretty severe. We only looked up for our Higher Power when their was no other direction to go.
Perhaps initially we thought that this turning to G-d was a one shot deal. OK, now that we were out of the woods, we could rely solely on ourselves again. What we found was that there were all other kinds of bottoms, that did not involve drugs or alcohol. We could be abstinent so to speak, and still walk around like we were intoxicated. This was the dilemma of the dry drunk. When we were in this state, we were hurtling ourselves like a runaway train towards all other kinds of emotional bottoms. The brakes were shot; and there was but one alternative; to turn to the G-d of our understanding. After repeated, brake failures, we began to turn to our Higher Power when the train had only begun to pick up speed.
Personal Reflection: Is my train picking up speed?
During a qualification, a speaker was sharing a description of the last time he had taken a drink. He had tried every known strategy familiar to man to change his ways. He had tried only drinking wine, only drinking beer, drinking at certain times and abstinence. Every strategy had failed. He always returned to his alcoholic drinking patterns. Along the way, his health and relationships had suffered greatly. He finally said, ” That’s it. I give up. I surrender. I don’t think I will ever be able to stop drinking”. At that moment he had reached his bottom. Alcohol had “brought him to his knees”. Many of us can identify with that moment because we often had a very similar experience. We had even used similar language expressing the same sentiment.
This “being brought to our knees” was repeated in sobriety as well. Through working the program we began to see and admit to the wreckage of our past. By going through the steps we were forced to confront our character defects. At first many of us tried to deny or minimize our shortcomings and grandiosity. With the help of our sponsor, other program members and our Higher Power we stripped away our denial. We were finally able to admit the truth about ourselves. Humility not alcohol,or drugs had brought us to our knees once again.
Personal Reflection: What brings me to my knees?