Terror & Puking
The day came when I knew I was going to have to do something. Quite apart from the sheer terror of waking up everyday, I was physically in a mess. Puking up everyday, shaking uncontrollably; I told myself each morning I had to stop, only to find myself forcing more vodka/wine/cider down my throat a few hours or sometimes minutes later. I wasnít just going through a bad patch; I was in big, big trouble.
Crawling into my first AA meeting I sought a way out. I wanted, needed, to stop drinking. All my lifeís plans and ambitions had long ago been frittered away and here I was in a church hall, desperate.
Thankfully, it turned out I really was in the right place. I found a room full of people who were sober and telling me they found it easy to not drink these days. But there was something else; it became apparent even to my addled head that they werenít just ëstoppedí; they didnít seem to need to ëstartí anymore.
Whereas I could barely look a Friday morning in the face without choking back a slug of vodka in the hope of gaining some courage to face the outside world, these people were going about their lives without this over-riding fear. Being desperate, I was very eager to learn how they did this trick. I asked a man to show me how he had recovered in Alcoholics Anonymous, he became my sponsor and began taking me through the Twelve Steps; AAís recovery program.
After years of unhappiness, self pity and fear, you couldíve knocked me backwards when I read that line in the basic text of The Big Book: ìselfishness, self centeredness, that we think is the root of our troubles.î Do you know it had never occurred to me, not really, that my perspective on life was skewed; that I thought too much of myself, my plans, my wants, and too little of others. It had never occurred to me at all!
What AA was telling me was that if I wanted to live sober, I would need, right this minute, to start to stop being so self obsessed and try to live my life differently. In fact it didnít beat around the bush, it said I would have to try and live by spiritual principles and be willing to believe in a power greater than myself.
Well, ëbeaten into a state of reasonablenessí, I was willing to give anything a go and the AAs I met in my Homegroup seemed to be living proof that it worked. My sponsor showed my how to start taking spiritual actions throughout the day:
Get on my knees in the morning and ask a power greater than myself to keep me sober, if it be his will, so that I may benefit others; try and think of others throughout the day, see what I can do for them; be honest, stop trying to rip people off, stop lying and cheating; help other alcoholics, share with them at my AA group, call them, see how theyíre doing; stop trying to control or worry about what others are doing, its not my problem and I cant afford to let these things get to me, remember, I need to avoid all that worry; instead of mulling over how mean someone has been to me, pray instead that they live happy and successful lives; share honestly with another human being about what's happening in my life; read spiritual literature; at the end of the day, get back on my knees and thank my Higher Power from the bottom of my heart for keeping me sober that day.
The fact of my experience is that as soon as I started taking those actions, however falteringly, I began to feel better, more content. And astonishingly, I no longer needed to drink. I found that recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous can happen very quickly and be long lasting; I have not been even vaguely interested in alcohol for eight years and have felt that way since only a few days after I became active in my AA Homegroup.
Having taken the twelve steps, over the years I have practiced spiritual principles in my life consistently but far from perfectly; at times I have done only the basics; to my cost. As soon as I begin to start obsessing about myself and how wrong the world is, as soon as I am dishonest in any area of my life, the pain begins to return. Thankfully, thus far in my sobriety, when push came to shove, I have always been able to remember that the world doesnít really revolve around me, that I only think I am right and that I should remember that, living sober in this world for me is a miracle when only a few short years ago I was dreaming of blowing my brains out with a gun. But trust me, sometimes it really has only been when push came to shove; I am still a human with all my faculties, good and bad, intact!
The very best reason I can give for actually practising spiritual principles in my life and not just talking about them are the very many blessings such a way of life has bestowed upon me: peace of mind, contentment, security, responsibility, relationships with others. A life, in other words.