Action was the Key
When I arrived in Alcoholics Anonymous thirteen years ago, I was a slothful, unlovely mess of resentment, self pity and blame. The world and its people had continually wronged me and alcohol had been my only means of getting through the drudge they called life. At least, that was MY version of events and what I endeavoured to get my sponsor to understand when I asked her to show me what she had done to recover.…… And she was having NONE of it!.
I first picked up alcohol as a teenager, stealing it from my parents (woefully minimal) drinks cabinet. The effects were electric and the consequences immediate, yet I believed I had found the answer to life, determining to repeat the process at the earliest opportunity, despite parental disapproval and lecture. I would simply ‘do things differently’ to avoid the fallout afterwards- not realizing that I would spend the next thirty years vowing ‘to do things differently next time’.
What I was simply incapable of appreciating was that I was out of tune with life; couldn’t and wouldn’t live life on life’s terms and that my expectation of people dancing to my tune was unrealistic and unsustainable. Clearly the answer was to ‘show them’ and get drunk at every opportunity – although, for a brief period in the beginning, I did have the notion that I would just go out and have a good time. It rarely happened. I perversely fought against any academic successes I may have achieved as alcohol took over and it dawned on me that I would have to study and work for things I wanted. I saw my middle brother achieve great things and just thought ‘let him be the brain box then; I’ll never match up to him’.
Sloth and self pity – already rife and thriving in my thoughts and actions, enabling me to think that when I felt better I would DO something. But I never felt better, so nothing got done. It never occurred to me to take action until I was beaten into submission and had that inner collapse which allowed me, for the first time in my life, to accept defeat, humbly asking for help and taking actions I did not yet believe in. This was from a sponsor, another alcoholic who had recovered, taken the 12 Steps, had a sponsor herself and who was willing to show me what she had done.
I knew I needed to change and I identified with the way my homegroup (as it was to become) described the causes and conditions of my alcoholism and promised me I would recover if I did the things they had done..This was re-inforced by my sponsor, who simply laid out the actions she takes on a daily basis and urged me to grasp it with all the earnestness at my command…. Because we who make it into AA are the lucky few and I knew I only had one shot at this. I took a deep breath and assured her I was prepared to go to any lengths, trusting that whatever it was could be no worse than the litany of disasters which lay behind me. Thankfully, it proved to be actions that I could begin immediately.
Praying that night for having had a sober day. Writing a gratitude list – I had SO MUCH to be grateful for but it never occurred to me to thank God as I understand Him for any of it. I was too busy blaming and railing against the unfairness of it all. Reading The Doctor’s Opinion in The basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous. Then progressing to a page or a chapter a day. Phoning my sponsor daily to show her I had Step1; admitting my powerlessness over that first drink. Phoning two other newcomers daily – forgetting about me and thinking of others. Getting to my Homegroup early and throwing myself into service; becoming useful and responsible for the first time in many years. Reading the ‘Just for today’ card daily and trying to do something from it – taking an action. Praying on my knees for a sober day – knowing that it is only through my Higher Power’s Grace that I am here and happily sober at all! Becoming and remaining sponsorable. Willingly allowing myself to be led and directed by someone who knows better than me that my defects of character which I addressed in my Step 4 and shared in my 5, are ever-present and capable of causing the misery of times past if they are not kept in check. Remaining in the centre of my Homegroup and AA, accepting whatever service is offered because it is my privilege and duty to pass on all that has been given to me, to the still suffering alcoholic.
Without the programme of Alcoholics Anonymous a strong and continuing relationship with my sponsor, (who is the only person I am required to be truly honest with and whom I aspire to be like) and continuing daily actions, I would be just another statistical drunk who didn’t make it and the gift of the presence of my children, grandchildren and husband in my life would never have become a reality. Action and more action. Such a simple concept but sometimes seemingly impossible for those who cannot quite let go I thank God I remained to pray.
Gail M, Road to Recovery Group, Plymouth