Thursday, July 29, 2010

"The Solution"

Why do some people 'get' Recovery right away while others struggle for years? Why, if the 12 steps are always the same, are there so many different fellowships? If the disease is the disease is the disease, why isn't there just one big fellowship called 'Anonymous'?

It's heartening to me to see newcomers come in and 'wake up'. It helps me, too, to see others who were there when I came in that are still living Happy, Joyous, and Free. It makes me sad to hear of those who are still struggling to get there. The program of Recovery brings awesome rewards to any who choose to follow it, who devote their life to spiritual principles. Sure, it ain't easy. For those of us who do it, it can be the hardest thing we ever do. When life happens, we have the choice to get loaded or not. The way we choose not to is by working the program instead.

Many, many people work the program simply because they don't want to get loaded anymore. They want to stay sober. For myself, I work the program because I've discovered that I truly enjoy and prefer living the spiritual life. I get uncountable rewards. Staying sober is one of them, to be sure, but the peace and serenity I have found is such a profound relief from how I used to feel, sometimes the fact that I don't have to get loaded anymore is almost an afterthought. At its best, the program allows me to be in communion with God, and at one with everything around me. I don't have to get fucked up and destroy lives anymore. I don't have to be an arrogant, self-centered asshole anymore. There is another way. There is a solution.

If all someone wants is to just not get loaded anymore, the program can show you how to do that. What most people who follow the program discover, though, is that it gives us so much more. We can become changed, truly changed men and women--if we allow it to happen. Some people don't want to. Some want to stay their same old selves. Some, the change happens overnight. For others, it comes gradually without our even realizing it. Getting sober is only the beginning. Working the program takes us so much further. It seems like fringe benefits at first--caring about others, living lives of integrity. Then it becomes the center of our lives. Instead of life revolving around alcohol or drugs or whatever the 'problem' seems to be, we begin treating the real problem: the disease itself. We become happier, healthier. We become a force for good in the world, instead of a force of chaos and destruction. Our lives become spiritually-centetred, God centered.

Speaking for myself, my real problem was and always has been me. Getting loaded just made things infinitely worse. The program gives me a way to deal with myself. It gives me a way to deal with the world, to live in it instead of in my own privately-defined world inside my head. I get a way to deal with other people besides trying to control them. Instead, I can accept people for who they are as they are. I can deal with life on life's terms. The Big Book of AA is clear that the program is not 'the' solution, just 'a' solution. And it works.

There are certain things about my Experience, Strength, and Hope, that I believe have helped me to be successful in working the program. I've always intuitively understood that the disease is the disease, regardless of how it manifests. I was able to understand right from the beginning that my problem isn't drugs or alcohol; it's me. I am the problem. I have a spirtual illness. I am a self-centered, judgemental, asshole. It's through working the program that I overcome and change those defects. God's plan is for a unified whole, not a bunch of little pieces which tear each other into still smaller pieces. When I live for myself, I am working against God's plan; when I live according to spiritual principles, God's power flows through me and I become a force for good in the world.

The entire purpose of the 12-step program is to have a spiritual awakening. We come to see ourselves as just one piece of something infinitely larger. We stop living lives of exclusion and begin truly accepting others for who they are as they are. It's great to not have to get loaded anymore, of course. It's a fuckin miracle. But it's only the first of many I've found through continuing to work the program and live the spiritual life.

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