Step 3 revisited

Clean and serene in a crazy world

UNSHACKLED 2

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”  ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS step 3, pg 59 in How it Works.

When was the last time you read those words or listened to them recited at a meeting of other recovering alcoholics?  Do we understand fully the significance of this life-saving concept which gave us the credentials to be a part of God’s family even after years of separation and denial ?

At my 1st AA meeting I was scared, I was sick, I was morally and spiritually bankrupt.  I knew I was going to die either by a black-out car wreck or by suicide.  My personal life was a disaster and my job was in jeopardy.  Most of my friends abandoned me, a few stood by me, but all knew that Larry was a sick puppy.  All except Larry.

You see, Larry had learned to play the game.  I’m talking about that mind game we alcoholics master at some point in our drinking careers.  I had my list of scapegoats lined up to cover every conceivable mishap in my life.  I conned, connived, and lied my way through the car wrecks, the lost jobs, the broken relationships, the days of alcohol-induced sickness.  In the end days of my drinking I truly believed my own cons.  Finally, reaching out to mental health services at the hospital in desperation, the psychologist assigned to me listened to my con for one minute before asking, “How much do you drink?”

My surrender was immediate because I was sick of being sick.  I replied, “A few beers once in a while,” but I knew then in the psychologist’s office that the only person I had been conning all this time was me.

“My name is Larry, and I’m an alcoholic,” I announced at my 1st AA meeting.

There, I had done it.  For the first time in many years I got honest with myself.  And then I listened.  I tried to convince myself that I was not as bad as they were.  But, I found myself relating to what they were saying and agreeing, “Yeah, I did that, too.  That’s me.”

Someone talked about God and I freaked.  “You don’t really believe that stuff, do you? There is no God.  Intelligent people don’t need God.  I sure as hell don’t need God.”

A fellow at the end of the table quietly responded, “And look where that got you.  You’re sitting in a room at a table with a bunch of drunks.”

Again, that moment of surrender.  “OK, OK, you’re right.  Maybe I’m not as smart as I thought I was.  I’ll listen to your stories about God.”

And so it began, my journey in sobriety.  The God of my understanding was nothing like the God of my childhood which had burdened me with guilt and shame for 34 years of my life.  It was a unique feeling, a devotion which I had never before experienced, this God of my understanding.  What an amazing concept!

Today I celebrate that I am no longer excluded from a worshipful relationship with a higher power just because I don’t profess the ‘right’ God according to other people.  I no longer feel unworthy just because I’m a broken man trying to be a better man.  I no longer feel condemned to hell just because I’m not convinced by their idea of heaven.

Are you in love with sobriety?  I am.  Do you remember your first meeting?  I do. Amazing, isn’t it, that we should be loved so much by a God of our understanding?

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Thy will, not mine, be done.”

 

 

dead or insane

Clean and serene in a crazy world

UNSHACKLED 2

Okay, so the chains of addiction have been broken and life as a sober man is beyond any high ever experienced.  Gone are the hangovers, the headaches, the retching, the lies, the fears, the pain, the loneliness, the self-loathing, the searching, the desperation.  Gone are the thoughts of suicide, the fits of anger, the desire to hurt another person.  All that is in the past – or is it?

Just because I am not drinking or drugging does not mean I am normal and healthy.  My demons continue to reside in that space within waiting an opportunity to emerge and control just as before.  Alcoholism is cunning, baffling, and powerful.  My disease wants to see me dead or insane.  Have I accepted that?  Or do I entertain the thought that maybe after years of sobriety I could possibly drink again – only this time as a social drinker?

Several of my dear friends thought so.  They went out to do more field research.  A few returned to the fellowship to tell me about it, but some did not.  Some died in accidents, some died from cirrhosis or other alcohol-related health issues, some overdosed, some committed suicide.  I am not willing to take that risk to learn if I  have become a social drinker.  Why would I?  Life is too good and there is too much work to be done in my remaining years.

It’s all about commitment.  My commitment to sobriety and my Higher Power is infinitely stronger today than my innate tendency to be addicted.  I refuse to believe that I am cured.  That brokenness which led me through 17 years of alcoholic insanity is continuing to be healed, but I am not yet cured.  That cure will take place on the day I take my last breath in this life.  Then I can claim freedom and perfection.

“No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles.  We are not saints.  The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines.  We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.”  pg 60 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

smiley face 2

 

Brothers in brokenness

 

alcohol-alcoholic-drunk-52507
I know you have tried time and again;
I see the heartache you suffer;
I feel the pain you endure in defeat.
God knows I want to fix you,
but, I can’t.
Every time you fall to its allure,
and it entices you to partake,
every time you stumble in weakness,
I fall with you and I stumble with you.
We harbor the same demons.
When you become numb in your stupor,
when you lapse into the world of unknown,
when you cry to me for help
my plea for your relief goes to God.
It’s all I can do.
We talk the next day about recovery;
we promise to try harder, do better;
we hope this time to kindle a spark,
that your 1st day of recovery is today.
But, I can’t fix it.
Only an imaginary wall separates us.
One slip and I’m on your side.
One miracle and you’re on mine.
We are a brotherhood of brokenness,
some victorious, some suffering.
Your demons are also mine.
They search our souls for weakness.
They attack in moments of foolishness.
Where you go, I also go for we are one
separated only by God’s grace.
Certainly there is no credit I should assume.
Our paths were as one in our addictions.
The bars were different, the cities different
yet even so, we destined ourselves to the same fate
because we are brothers in brokenness.
Was I special? Was I stronger or more loved?
Why was I the one chosen for recovery
while my brother continues to suffer?
Is it God’s choice or simply a matter of chance?
I wish I could fix it.

cunning, baffling, powerful

copyright 3

cunning, baffling, powerful

 

powerless

I got drunk last night

there was a fight 

the cops showed up

put me in handcuffs

the kids were crying

the neighbors were screaming

red and blue lights

lighting up the neighborhood.

 

O Lord, I got drunk last night

they put me on the ground

in handcuffs

dogs were barking

people cursing at me

dragged me to the car

cold jail cell

crying, cursing, screaming

crying, cursing, screaming 

wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up

damn it, wake up

crying, soaked in sweat

shaking

I got drunk last night

but it was just a dream

O Lord, it was just a dream.

THANK YOU GOD FOR REMINDING ME

THANK YOU GOD FOR LOVING ME