When I got to Alcoholics Anonymous at the age of 32, I didn’t have any acceptance about my situation. To put it frankly, I had no idea what kind of trouble I was in. I knew that I felt dreadful and I had a problem- well, countless problems all rolled into one, and I couldn’t stop drinking. I had also figured out that stopping drinking by itself wasn’t going to solve my problems, because I had a nagging head full of resentments that would not shut up.
In those early days, I did little to change the dreadful state of my mind, apart from coming back to meetings. I learned later that I would have to do much more than just keep coming back. Luckily though, by coming back, I heard more and more recovered alcoholics talk about the very things that were troubling me, and more importantly, how they did not feel like that anymore. I was still not ready to accept that these 12 Steps that everyone was talking about were going to work for me, but eventually I got so fed up with the way I felt- with or without alcohol- and having failed with the many ways I had tried to get better, I started to put in the actions that were suggested to me by my sponsor. I finally got Step 1: I accepted the programme of recovery.
When my sponsor took me through Step 3, there was more acceptance for me to get my head around. I had never been religious and infact, I’d been quite the opposite. But by the time I had accepted the programme of Alcoholics Anonymous, I had become willing to believe in a power greater than myself. I was told that all I had to do was put in the actions, which I did, and as the obsession for alcohol was disappearing, I could feel that it was working. In the readings around Step 3 in the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous, its writers told of how they “decided to turn our will and our life over to God as we understood Him”. My sponsor explained that this means I have to accept God’s will. In other words, I am no longer running the show. If things don’t go my way, then that’s how it’s supposed to be.
Most of the time, I have acceptance around my life. What I have today is far greater than anything I had before I came to Alcoholics Anonymous- that’s an understatement. The fact that I can live every day without wanting or needing alcohol, the relationships I have with friends and family and my peace of mind (which I have most of the time) are nothing short of miracles. Acceptance is all good and well when things are going great, but sometimes life happens: relationship problems, not getting the job and all sorts of other things that may not go my way. It is at times like these that I need to continue to trust God and accept His will. If I want a better life, then obviously I need to put in the appropriate actions, but if I also want to stay sober and happy, I need to accept that the outcome is not down to me. If I don’t have something, I have to accept that I am not meant to have it.
I have spent many years as a happy ‘customer’ of Alcoholics Anonymous. Many wonderful things have happened to me, as a result of staying on the path of recovery and keeping in line with whatever my sponsor has suggested. I am an alcoholic of the most hopeless variety. I was in so much pain that I found it impossible to stay sober for even a day, and yet here I am almost nine years later, without ever having needed an alcoholic drink. And better than that: I actually enjoy being sober, an idea that was completely ridiculous before I came to Alcoholics Anonymous.
Arash T, Road to Recovery group, Plymouth, July 2010