Let’s stick together

My name is *** and I am an addict.

In my experience, when life has thrown a challenge my way, it has effected my motivation to do the next right thing. Suggestions can become lackadaisical, I can start to think about the steps rather than act upon them, meetings can become a chore and my priorities can get turned on their head.

But why? Surely in difficult times it is even more necessary to work a solid program? I know it works if I work it, so why in tough times can I take my foot off the pedal? Truly baffling I can be.

When I do not put in the daily diligent effort I can very easily become resentful and/or fearful. Selfish and dishonest behaviours aren’t far behind. A perilous way for an addict to live.

I am as much an addict as I ever was. This will never not be the case. NEVER. The 20 questions still apply to me now and always will. ALWAYS.

Why am I sharing this now? Because, we are all being challenged in one way or another right now and it appears to be set to last for a considerable amount of time.

It is my belief, that like it or not, us addicts find ourselves in a potentially vulnerable position. Vulnerable to relapse. Vulnerable to causing further harm and destruction to ourselves and our loved ones. BUT only if we allow it too. It DOES NOT have to be that way.

Please consider the following:

– Keep in constant contact with fellows. Reach out to someone who will appreciate your call. Be of service to the fellowships that have done so much for us.

– Attend (in person or online) as many meetings per week. Get things off your chest. Talk about your feelings. Give service by listening to and sharing the message of experience, strength and hope.

– SMASH the suggestions to pieces! Do two gratitude lists if you have to! Mediate three times a day if it helps! Call ten fellows and not just two! Smash them all.

– Pray, pray, pray, pray and pray again to your higher power. If you do not have your own concept of God, choose someone in your life you believe has faith and pray to theirs.

– Do not delay the steps. If it is impossible for you to physically meet with your sponsor, don’t waste any time. We are blessed with technology which allows calls and video calls. Use them.

– If you are interested in sponsorship and willing to go to any lengths then start now! Do not wait, sponsorship has proven it can work from country to country. We are blessed to have many available sponsors who can be (somewhat) flexible in their delivery.

– Be selfless. Think of others less fortunate than you, that includes the elderly, the homeless, our families and everyone not in a fellowship (in my opinion). Even if it’s to listen to them share their feelings and get things off there chest, let’s do what we can.

– Put the effort in on a daily basis. 6 days per week is not enough.

By keeping our foot flat out on the pedal we will improve our chances of being abstinent and reduce the chance of harming others and leaving destruction on our paths. Through God or the simple higher power of the fellowship, we can be the best version of ourselves and of best use to the people around us.

Grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, Courage to change the things we can and the Wisdom to know the difference.

Up A Downward Escalator

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.

‘Who are you to say there is no God?’

‘Who are you to say there is no God?’ pg 56 AA’s Big Book

Am I the only one who reads this and thinks of Miracle on 34th Street?

In all seriousness, the ‘We Agnostics’ chapter and in particular this line, provided the foundation to my belief in a greater power than myself. As well as bringing Richard Attenborough’s festive smile to mind, it gave me humility. How egocentric was I for this to have such a profound impact on me? Did I really think I knew everything? I am not the almighty. I am not celestial. I am not all powerful.

And it’s this humility which is the over riding thought when I get on my knees and pray. I have no idea who or what I pray to but I do know its not me. There is plenty of things more powerful and that is enough for me.

Where am I?

Where am I?

Exactly? Well I’m on the tube having just been to another 12 Step meeting. That’s 52 meetings in as many days. I’m 6021 days without a bet of any kind and 6 and a half days free from overeating. I am comfortably into my fourth decade on Earth and I am happier than I can remember. I used to dread the future to a point that I never planned for it, now I have a sincere hope. I’ve gone from managing my own life as well as managing the lives of those around me to handing my life over to a greater power I choose to call God. I am understanding how powerless I am over people, places and things. I am realising, sometime too slowly, the importance of self honesty. I am mending relationships instead of breaking them. I now meditate and have become one of those spiritual beings I used to laugh at. Through Unity, Service and Recovery I am progressing instead of regressing. The fear I sometimes wake up to is quickly recognised for what it truly is – not real. To life’s challenges I have found some answers. I lean towards consideratation, tolerance and patience. I practice love, forgiveness and gratitude. My pathological dishonesty is leaving me. I accept I am not perfect and never will be. I have found humility and I try to remain teachable. I am able to use my past for reflection and learn from it, instead of surpressing it under lock and key. I have found my purpose in life – to carry this message to others.

Chalk and Cheese

This is very relevant to my life at the moment so I thought I’d share my experience of Step 2 – “Came to believe in a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

“Came to believe…” This is exactly what happened to me. Through the humbling of Step 1 and reading the first few chapters of the Big Book, I came to believe. There was no existing belief beforehand, in fact, I almost resented the idea on the basis it was ridiculous, a sign of weakness and lack of self-will. It was comforting to know I didn’t need the belief before I embarked on the 12 Step Program.

“… in a power greater than ourselves…” The admission of my powerlessness over my illness and the the fact I had done an awful job at managing my life, gave me the necessary humility to accept and come to believe there are many things more powerful than I. For me it was that simple. The fact I am not the most powerful thing means there is an abundance of things that are. When I get on my knees and pray, this is what’s going through my mind. Simple humility.

“….could restore us to sanity.” Wait a minute! Not only do I have to believe in a power greater than myself, but I have to believe this power can influence me enough to restore sanity?? Despite my initial reservations, my experience has proved this can be quite simple. To start with, one of the main reasons I started this journey of recovery is because I wanted the apparent serenity I could see in others. If the programme, which includes a belief in a greater power, can work for them, why can’t it work for me too? Who am I to say it won’t? That was enough for me to get started. Since then, my belief has progressed and evolved into faith. How? Simply through experience. On a daily basis, when I feel connected to my greater power, I am a different person. I am calmer, I talk lower, I am at peace, I am a good listener, I appreciate the small things. When I am running on self will I am in a rush, I obsess over food, I am resentful, I am fearful, I am angry, I am selfish. Like chalk and cheese. Like black and white. It is as clear as night and day if I am running on self will or a greater power’s will. So, do I believe a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity? Most definitely.