At some unknown point in time Step 1 and its purpose was fully eroded from my memory banks. This was easier done than I had expected and was aware of. With this major task completed, alcoholism was ready to indulge itself with the main event. The main event being engagement of my own self-will and me taking over management of my own life, lock stock and barrel. Self-will came back with an ease and comfort that seamed correct. With the knowledge I had gained from being in the Fellowship, for just over 6 years, it looked as though everything was in place. In fact, it seemed ludicrous not to take the reins at this moment in time. I had knowledge and good morals. Living sober would be a doddle. Just keep a Higher Power in my life, help other people, keep on top of things. Simple. Sobriety without the Fellowship.
It was easy to disappear from the meetings. I stopped talking with people, picked up a few resentments, and possibly gave one or two to others. It made it a bit more justifiable being resentful at, well, anything really. The meetings stopped, and I just went about life as I had learned to do. It was very easy to get off the spiritual path still thinking I was at least close to it. It was to be harder to get back on, especially when my head was saying “Yep, you’re doing just fine, keep going”. It is getting back on it that is the real test of my spiritual wellbeing. I was at spiritual low tide.
So up and running on my will I go. No meetings. A wafer-thin loose program of action, which I think is suitable. Alcoholism now has me in its grasp. All it must do is chip away at me, at my mind, bit by bit, piece by piece, situation by situation. I estimate it took around 4 – 6 months for the signs to show that I was losing grip on different elements of my life. Chaos and destruction started to prevail. Mostly the effects were noticeable by my nearest and dearest. I could make excuses and sometimes ride through the storm only to find another unexpected typhoon warming up ready to let loose at any given moment. I would sometimes find myself praying for help to get me out of this or that. Or I would pick up bits of the program I had learned in the Fellowship to seek some relief, and at times I received some. I use relief like I use booze. It is a symptom of my problem, I become a relief junkie. Hitting the lows and using prayer and the pad like a prescription sheet for the highs of relief when a situation would go quiet and seem solved. This went on for a few years, in and out of various meetings, never settling. Another year and I get a sponsor and find more relief in inventory and sharing. Then drop the sponsor.
I find myself back at my original home group: Plymouth Road to Recovery. I attend for a while but do not find peace. I just can’t be bothered to go through it all again, so my mind tells me. While all this is happening, I am slowly and surely dismantling my life, friends, family, belongings, business. Some go, and some stay but are frustrated and unhappy. Traveling to distant lands, seeking a new beginning brings relief and some pleasure, but not satisfaction or the happiness within that I truly yearn for.
Alcoholism is a cunning foe. The pain and destruction I caused myself and inflicted on others in our lives with me running on self-will was methodical, almost calculated and incessant. Alcoholism is patient, it knows it has time and it knows the right times are here or soon coming. Time to craft and shape situations, to break friendships, to unsettle and break relationships. Ever heading towards the ultimate goal of the first drink. The true weapon in alcoholism’s arsenal is to have a mind believe that everything is ok. It is them, not me. This is how things should be. I am right, you are wrong. I was completely powerless over many things. I was a spectator of my own life, cheering at times and crying in pain at others. I knew what was wrong, I knew what I must do for I had tasted and enjoyed the fruits of happy sobriety. The solution to my problems was a simple step away.
Eventually I stood at the turning point. The questions and uncertainties in the eyes of others, the madness and clutter in my mind brought me to the decision. I could either go back to the Fellowship or I stand alone. Alone is where the alcoholic is calling from. Alone is a lonely place. Alone is where I was heading and heading at speed. At times alone looked to be the easier, softer solution.
I decide to go back to AA. I cut away all other choices and decide I must take everything that goes with the choice of attending the Fellowship. At first possibly a different meeting maybe, but sense prevails and I go back to where I feel comfortable and where I have a place. It is a trudge at first. A trudge of my own doing.
I ask a member to sponsor me and follow suggestions. A revisit to the Steps to help clear my way.
I find a Higher Power back in my life and I now know that a Higher Power’s will is better than my will. I am responsible for showing up and putting in the actions, I must try to let go of predicting the results. I must throw out some of my new-found beliefs as they just don’t sit well. Let go of old ideas to welcome new. Find a daily reprieve, one day at a time.
Fortunately, I did not drink or drug during my time in and out of the AA rooms. I like not doing these things these days. Yet I did not really enjoy watching myself dismantle my life. I felt powerless to really do anything of value to stop the rolling stone that had gathered much resentment and new beliefs. At times I lived in a bubble unable to feel or hear the world around me.
I feel I have learned from my journey, it was my lesson to learn and I believe it will be there again should I have not fully understood. I can be forgetful. It is in my mind.
Luckily for me it is back to the Fellowship with a simple handshake and some willingness to be free, free from me.
Geoff P, Plymouth Road to Recovery Group