Practicing the Principles

Practicing the Principles

"We feel that elimination of our drinking is but a beginning.  A much more important demonstration of our principles lies before us in our respective homes, occupations and affairs."  Big Book – page 19

Having been sober for nearly a year I have been looking back over the last twelve months and also looking forward to my life ahead.  It still astonishes me on a daily basis that the obsession and compulsion to drink has been completely removed from my consciousness.  There were times when I wondered if I was going to make it as I have had several, very difficult experiences in the last year that would have made me go on massive benders without AA.  It was utterly astonishing that the day after these experiences I was thinking back to the day before realising that not once had the thought of alcohol crossed my mind to fix my feelings, and I had found myself coping in ways that I hadn't thought were possible.  God was truly doing for me what I could not do for myself.

These experiences of staying sober have had a profound effect on me as there were long periods in my past when I could not stay away from alcohol for more than a few hours as I used to be a daily drinker for long periods due to the way I felt.  I thought that when I came back to AA that the first year would at times be tough, but it hasn't been like that at all – alcohol just simply hasn't been part of the equation of life anymore since having done the Fifth Step.

But just because I have been restored to sanity, and the obsession to drink has been removed from me it doesn't mean that I have reached the end of the road.  I may have recovered but I am certainly not cured of alcoholism.  I know that from bitter experience.  Stopping drinking really is just the beginning..  To stay sober I have to keep on doing what I have already done to achieve sobriety.  A very important part of this is the second sentence of the quote at the top of this page.  If I wish to have the best possible chance of staying sober and remaining happy then I have to demonstrate the spiritual principles of alcoholics anonymous in all areas of my life.  My sponsor puts it very succinctly when he says we must always do the right and honest thing  in everything that we do in life. 

I have found that doing the right and honest thing by demonstrating the spiritual principles contained within the Twelve Steps to my family life, at the workplace and with all my personal affairs is of vital importance and also difficult at times.  I’m not a saint and I do make mistakes and afterwards I think to myself why did I just say or do that.  But the important thing is even if I do make a mistake I am now more aware that I have done so and when faced with that situation again in the future I can make a better judgment to grow along  spirituals lines and to do the right and honest thing.  This reminds me of a quote I read many years ago that really holds true, 'Recognising one's faults is the beginning of wisdom.' 

But when I do the right and honest thing I feel so much better.  I have grown so much as a person this year, especially within the workplace as this is where I spend most of my waking hours.  I have learned so much about tolerance, patience and gratitude.  The job that I have is very stressful at times and without AA I would not have stayed long within the job that I am in.  But as time has gone by and I have squarely faced up to my faults, day by day, I have found my job more enjoyable and I have more gratitude for having a job in the first place.  I have learnt that life often is not about doing what we like but instead learning to like what we do.

Life is wonderful without the misery and mayhem of alcoholic drinking but I have to keep guard against my thoughts and feelings that make me an alcoholic in the first place as I am only keeping at bay this subtle disease a day at a time by continuing to try and practice as much as I can the principles of the Twelve Steps in all my affairs and by trying as much as I can to be of maximum service to God and the people about me.

September 2008