I’ve learned a lot of life lessons since coming into the program. This is not an exhaustive list and not in any order of importance. Think of these as a few thoughts that popped into my head.
1. I am not alone. For many years in my disease I didn’t want to admit that I needed anyone and at the end I didn’t want to admit that I needed help. Even after starting the process of recovery it was difficult to ask for help. This was foreign territory for me, both the program and the asking for help.
2. It’s the engine that kills you, not the caboose. It never crossed my mind that the first hit or shot of something was what got my addiction going. Once I had something in my system, the obsession took over and all of my resolve disolved. I said only one, and suddenly I had ten. The first one is the deadly one that took me down the track each time. The last one, just kept me out of it a little bit longer.
3. What other people think is none of my business. This one was difficult for me to wrap my head around. I slowly came to understand that when I was worried and thinking about what others might think about me, then I was giving my will over to them so that they would like me, I was handing over my self esteem to others and praying for a pat on the head. I know now that I have to be true to myself. It’s nice if others like me, but it’s not necessary.
4. Faith will move mountains, but bring a shovel. I have learned that I am not helpless. There are many things that I can and must do to maintain my sobriety. I know I have a Higher Power who has always looked after me. I have to look after me too. To get to sobriety takes work, work that I have to do.
5. Not to decide is still a decision. I had heard this one years before, but I became an expert in the years leading up to my coming to the rooms. I just sort of let life happen. I needed to go somewhere or do something but I didn’t seem to have the energy to go or do anything. So I would let it slide. Letting it slide was my decision not to do something. I take a more proactive approach today in doing the ‘next right thing’.
6. Service will keep you sober. This one was drilled into me from day one. It took a year or so before I could begin to really understand what was happening. When I was doing ‘service’: washing coffee cups, helping to set up for meetings, greeting people as they arrived, I was getting out of my own head. My head is where the monkeys live and they like to have a circus whenever they can. Service, I have found is a way of keeping them in their cages. I get out of me and see that there is a whole other world out there.
7. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. How many times did I wake up and say: ‘I’m never doing that again!’ only to be back at it by noon. Of course I was. I wasn’t changing anything different and yet, I expected I could stay sober. Thanks to my sponsors and personal reflection, I am able to have a clearer picture of what I am doing in life. I have to do something. A change of only one degree on your bearing will drastically change where you will end up.
8. There are many paths to get to where you want to go. “Do you know that way to San Jose?” goes the song. Living in Costa Rica with it’s capital being San Jose, I can give you a definite ‘yes’, I do know the way to San Jose. There are many ways to get there. Some are more direct, others are more scenic, some require a four-wheel drive vehicle. Eventually, following these ‘ways’, you will get to San Jose. So it is with sobriety. My program is not the only way. There are many sober people in the world who do not follow the same program as I do. So it is with faith. My Higher Power works for me, and yours works for you. The point is, they all get us to where we want to go.
9. The more we learn, the more we learn how much more there is to learn. A friend of mine in the program who started out well over thirty years ago talks of a member of his group who was an old, old timer who was around when the program was in its infancy. The fellow used to say at meeting: “Folks, we’re just scratching the surface here.” I agree. When I came in I thought I knew what I was doing. Now I see a depth of faith in others in the program that I want and I know I can have if I work for it. I see understanding of the literature that goes way over my head. It is a challenge to me to keep asking questions, seeking more answers. It is a journey that I am enjoying a great deal.
10. There is no room for resentment, anger or fear in a heart full of gratitude. Gratitude takes me out of me and into the realm of the spirit. When I am grateful for all that I have been given, then the petty things of the world around me fall by the wayside. How can I hold a grudge, hate someone or worry about tomorrow when I acknowledge the many ways I have always been very blessed? I can’t. I am grateful.