Monday, December 13, 2004

104 Miracles

I've been sober for 104 days.

I'm active in AA. I did at least 90 meetings in my first 90 days; I have a sponsor I talk to regularly, but not every day; I'm working the steps; I take commitments as a meeting leader. So I'm doing okay...

Like most newcomers, my life is chaos. I periodically retreat into my alcoholic isolation, depression, etc. Fairly regularly I get the insane urge to drink. I don't read the Book regularly, haven't cultivated a conscious contact with my higher power, haven't frequented BB/12X12 study meetings. So there's a lot I'm not doing -- which probably explains the lack of peace and serenity in my life! :)

But I haven't had a drink. And that, my friends, is due to nothing but a miracle every day for 104 days. When my wife left again (when she left the first time, I stopped drinking for the first time, picked up again after a couple weeks, then came back in after a couple weeks; she returned a few days after I stopped drinking again), I had been sober about six weeks. I had been going to meetings, talking to my sponsor, taking some stabs at working the steps -- kind of trying to do what was suggested, but not really knowing what the hell I was doing.

That day she fled again, I had a powerful urge to pick up a 12-pack or two. But before I could act on the notion, what popped into my head was, "I'll wait till tomorrow... this, too, shall pass." And I didn't drink that day. I was euphoric the next morning when I woke up, that I had another day. I realized that day, that all the time I didn't know what I was doing, I was working a program of recovery -- and damned if it wasn't working!

Oh, I've had the insane urges since then. But what I had learned was not to fight it. I had internalized Step One: I am powerless over alcohol, and any attempt I make to fight it with my own will power is futile. Simultaneously, the program kicked in with its slogans, and kept me from drinking. I had internalized Step Two: a higher power can restore me to sanity -- and my higher power works, in part, through the program and fellowship of AA.

I'll never forget that realization, what a relief it was. I never have to get drunk again, and I don't ever have to fight the urge to drink again. What a tremendous burden was lifted from me!

But....

It isn't free.

My part is not to take care of the drinking -- my higher power, my program, and AA take care of the alcohol. My part is to completely renovate my spiritual life and my personality, how I relate to and behave with other people and with God. That's all! :)

"What an order! I can't go through with it!" Sometimes it seems like a daunting task. Some of the "Book nazis" and hard core true believers make it sound hard, that you have to adhere to rigid rules, that deviations are apostasy. Most of the oldtimers -- including Bill W in the 12X12 -- are very reassuring that it really isn't that hard. Progress, not perfection.

It's worthwhile to do. Already, this whole recovery thing is only incidentally about alcohol for me. Alcohol is simply a symptom of my spiritual malady. If I make spiritual progress -- even just a little bit each day -- I will increasingly find serenity, peace and happiness in my life. If I make progress, the alcohol will take care of itself, so to speak, and I won't relapse.

If I don't make progress, if I allow myself to believe the illusion that I can "stand still" in my program, put it on hold for awhile, then I'm headed for relapse. Because I really cannot stand still -- if I'm not moving forward, then I'm relapsing. I may not reach the point in my relapse of drinking today, but I may tomorrow, or the next day, or next month. If I stop making progress, I will, inevitably, inexorably, eventually have a drink, and if I have a drink I will get drunk. And once I get drunk I won't be able to stop until, at best, I am miserable and suicidal again.

God bless you all, and God bless each alcoholic who still suffers.

1 Comments:

At 12/15/2004 01:17:00 PM, Blogger Gary Matthew Miller said...

Phil,

Keep going! God bless. I'll be praying for you.

 

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