Up A Downward Escalator
I can liken my recovery to walking up a downward escalator. At the beginning, standing afoot, even the look of what lied ahead was a daunting prospect. Most daunting of all was I couldn’t even see the top, it went on forever. But there were others climbing ahead of me. They had smiles on their faces and a sparkle of hope in their eyes. From my comfort zone, I stood and watched them working, week after week, month after month. Until one day, an experienced hand reached back towards my own. Accepting this selfless offer of help would prove to be vital. I have no idea where the courage came from but I took that leap of faith and made that first step.
In the early days I bounded up those steps like a mountain goat. The suggestions, meetings and initial bookwork ushered me upwards with relative ease leaving the idea of relapse beneath me. With this came the progression of blessings including gratitude, happiness and serenity.
At times though, I stood still, complacent, whilst I procrastinated or took the weekend off. I quickly learnt there is a problem with standing still on a downward escalator. I don’t stay still. I regress. I need no more proof that a lack of action is directly linked to the increase of dishonest, selfish, resentful and fearful behaviours. To make things worse, the downward motion seemed to pick up speed the longer I did nothing. Carry on and soon enough my rock bottom would be above me as I dig deeper and discover new depths.
So I had a choice. I could put in the necessary diligent effort by practicing to the best of my ability – Unity, Recovery and Service, and continue to progress. Or I could do half measures, tread water and flirt just above that invisible, insidious line of relapse.
I also had to consider life’s challenges. The setbacks. They are coming, I am not immune. When they do I will get knocked down. How far I fall will depend on how strong my defence is. When I fall, how far above that relapse line do I want to be? As far as possible thank you very much.
So I chose to work hard and keep going. And as I climbed higher and higher, not only did I create more distance between myself and that next bet, everything around me was improving. Humility was deflating my ego, my relationships were fixing, gratitude was overcoming expectation, I was thinking of others instead of just myself, and faith was replacing fear. Things simply kept getting better and better. I was learning to love life. I was learning to love myself.
Not seeing a top to this lifelong escalator was once a daunting prospect, the same thought now fills me with genuine hope. If there is no top, no end, if perfection is not attainable, that surely means there is no limit to my progression. As long as I continue to work at it. Bearing in mind how much I have progressed in what is a small fraction of my life thus far, that thought is an exciting one.
Now my hand is reaching back.
This just about sums it up for me. Shame I only found it three and a bit years ago! Although, to be fair, I truly believe it was precisely the right time. I had to go through exactly what I had to go through. Any other time and things just wouldn’t be the same.
Daily recovery from self was my gift. Carrying the same message to others is my purpose. My gift and my purpose go hand in hand. One cannot live without the other.
My Ego Vs My Spiritual Self: The Forty Two Year Wars
For decades my ego enjoyed landslide victories in this war. So cunning were it’s triumphs I didn’t even know it sat upon the throne in complete control. Like a ghost puppet it pulled my strings into the darkest of places and mis-shaped my life.
Three years ago, at Rock Bottom, my desperate spiritual self produced a challenge that hurt my ego. Until this day any attempt had been nonchalantly brushed off with ease. This small cut, produced not by force but by a leap of faith, was a glimmer of hope and changed history.
Since that fateful day my spiritual self has not rested. With daily diligent effort, it’s army led by gallant knights such as Sir Love and Sir Humility has continued to grow with new soldiers enrolling every day. Coinciding with this progress, my ego has deflated into a regressing gang of pirates succeeding only in little ambushes. Insidious jabs which remind my spiritual self not to get too comfortable.
Tradition 1 – Our common welfare should come first, personal recovery depends upon Unity.
Now read it again. And again.
Sounds like Unity is vital, but what does unity actually mean. Here are some quotes and definitions that have helped me understand the meaning of unity.
“The state of being united or joined as a whole.” – Oxford dictionary
“It’s the opposite of being divided.” – vocabulary.com
“We must hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” – Benjamin Franklin
“That no personal sacrifice is too great for preservation of the fellowship. He learns that the clamour of desires and ambitions within him must be silenced whenever these could damage the group. It becomes plain that the group must survive or the individual will not.” – Twelve and Twelve
Do I really want to stop?
When I first walked into the rooms I was met with just one requirement – a desire to refrain. Did I have that desire? Of course I did. I had the gift of desperation. My path of destruction had caused a huge amount of pain to both myself and others. Why wouldn’t I want to give up the cause of it? This was my conscious thinking at the time.
In hindsight I have come to realise that not only had I given up the negative side of my addiction, but the level of desperation meant I had also given up the ‘apparent’ positives. There were positives of course. I wouldn’t have done what I did had it not been for the dopamine hits I was getting in return. This realisation took my surrender to a new level. I clearly wanted to stop 100%.
Which brings me back, do I really want to stop? Do I really want to stop over-eating? Do I really want to stop being dishonest? Do I really want to stop being a people pleaser? Sure I want to stop feeling crap after binge eating on pastries, but do I want to stop the brief pleasures I get from eating that sugary pain-Au-chocolate? Sure I want to stop lying to the people I love the most, but do I want to stop taking what seems to be the easy way out? Sure I want to stop living in fear of letting someone down, but do I want to stop being everyone’s best friend?
To have a desire to refrain, to really want to stop, my recovery from my primary addiction has taught me that I need to surrender 100%, the bad… and the good.