In this area, like many other places, when there’s a newcomer or someone returning to the fellowship, we talk about Step One. “We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction and that our lives had become unmanageable.” We also talk about the Third Tradition. “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using.” The last three meetings I attended have welcomed new people. Is my Higher Power trying to tell me something?
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t want to quit when I arrived at my first meeting. I had no desire to stop using. I had a desire for the craziness to stop. I wanted the circus in my head to pull up stakes and move on. I wanted to feel better and stop feeling depressed. The feelings of despair were so overwhelming that I wanted them to stop, but I didn’t want to admit that my consumption was the problem. I thought you could perhaps teach me to control my use so that I could enjoy life. Once I got my life organized again, then I could drink and use like a normal human being.
Hmmm. Didn’t quite work out the way I thought.
I really wasn’t sure what would happen when I walked into the room that first time. But I was welcomed, recognized a couple of people I knew and sat down. Almost immediately I heard other people sharing their story and it was my story. I could relate to the insanity of it all. I heard them speak of the shame they felt, their despair, fear and confusion while they were still drinking and using. They told me something that I never knew. It’s the first drink that got me drunk, not the eighth or tenth. How many times did I tell myself that I was only going to have one or two and find myself falling off of the barstool asking myself what happened. I thought, ‘One can’t hurt’, and came to the next morning unsure of how I ended up lying on the porch. As one member said, ‘It’s not the caboose that kills you, it’s the engine!’ Once it was in me, I lost all my resolve and all bets were off. I had to admit, that I never just had one of anything.
Sheepishly, slowly, I had to admit that perhaps my use was at least part of my problem. Slowly, with time, I realized that I was powerless over my addiction. I saw that I spent most of my time getting high, recovering from it, or planning my next one. I might still have had a roof over my head and food in the fridge, but it wasn’t me who was managing my life, my addiction was. Most importantly, I learned that I couldn’t solve my problems with the same thinking that caused them. Something had to change.
Something did change: I stopped thinking and starting listening. I had to admit that the folks around the table had something that I wanted. They were happy, laughing and friendly. It didn’t take long before I dropped the pretense that I could control my use. One minute at a time, one hour at a time and then one day at a time. I could stop for the moment, this minute or this hour. Gradually the hours added up to a day and then the days to a week and so on.
I can’t take my sobriety for granted. I know that I am a few bad decisions away from losing it. The elevator of my disease is waiting with the door open, ready to take me down deeper. And there’s no guarantee that I will make it back. Like the diabetic taking insulin, I must follow the program on a daily basis to ensure my sobriety. I am a beginner every day.
Beginner meetings remind me how far I have come in sobriety. They remind me of what it was like and could be again. Working with a new member helps to keep it fresh. I am grateful to those who took the time to pass the message onto me and in my gratitude, I pass that message to others. What’s my Higher Power telling me? Keep coming back. Keep working the program. I can’t know what will coming around the corner in my life, but whatever it is, I know that keeping close to the program will allow me to handle life as it comes. I am grateful.
♥ ♥ ♥
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