Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of people who have just come back to the program. Some of them share war stories and others tell horror stories and none of them are quite sure what actually happened.
They wanted to stay sober. They meant to stay sober. They didn’t stay sober. Why not?
Willing to Go to Any Lengths
This is the problem. It’s always the problem, but we typically have lots of reasons why we couldn’t, didn’t, can’t or won’t. Though most people think the program starts with the first step, the first step must be prompted by something. For a lot of us, that’s a specific catastrophe – we lost our jobs, we got arrested, our family cut ties with us, our kids were taken, our spouse left.
Those incidents may drive us here, but they won’t keep us here. The Big Book tells us that on page 24:
“We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago.”
In other words, I will remember putting my hand on the hot stove – I just won’t remember how badly it burned me.
So when we think that remembering our last drunk will keep us sober – all we’re really doing is foretelling our future. Because it doesn’t say we won’t remember, it says we won’t remember with sufficient force of memory.
Catastrophe Must Include Decision
All those crappy things that happen to us? They need to drive a decision: that we have to stop drinking – we don’t know how but we know that we’re done. Our ass has been kicked enough. On page 30 in More About Alcoholism:
“We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics.”
This isn’t a bottom. This is a tiny moment, minute, second of clarity where we realize that our drinking is out of control and we can’t stop it. We’ve had our last drink. And we come to A.A. And our deepest fear is confirmed: We are powerless over alcohol.
What that tells me is left to my own devices, I will drink again. I can’t stop myself.
So if we believe that – we need a plan to protect us from being overpowered. And we have to be willing to do to any lengths to follow the plan. The good news? We don’t have to do it alone. The bad news? We have to let someone tell us what to do.
Before you get on the “suggestions” high horse, decide. Do you want to do it your way (again) or are you ready to do it ours?
Here’s What Willingess Looks Like
- Get a sponsor. Get a sponsor who will tell you the truth.
- How do you know you have a good sponsor? They piss you off on a regular basis.
- Do what they “suggest.”
- Go through the steps in the Big Book.
- Get a home group. Help out. Set up chairs, pick up cups, hand out books, go to business meetings.
- Share some, listen more.
- Volunteer for stuff
- They end up giving you a key.
- Call one other alcoholic every day. (not just your sponsor.)
- If you don’t practice calling when you’re okay, you’ll never call when the desire to drink hits.
- It sucks at first, but after a while, it’s pretty cool to have friends.
- Pray in the morning and at night.
- Get on your knees (helps you to stay focused.)
- Just ask for help to stay sober today and say thank you before you hop into bed.
- Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be.
- Go to a meeting every day.
- Yes, every day. (If you’re wondering for how long…ask your sponsor.)
“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.”