In the beginning, I figured I would give the program a try. I told myself, I’ll give this program a year, and if I’m not back on track, cured, all wreckage cleared, relationship fixed, living in a house in the suburbs continuing the life I had planned for myself, then forget it. Friends at my meetings must have been amused.
I have since come to understand what half measures are. And that they avail us nothing. And the most I will ever get is a daily reprieve. So I get to make a choice every day. That doesn’t mean that I have to get all twelve steps done in one day; it is progress not perfection (and certainly not completion). However, just trying the program doesn’t not mean I am in program. If I just give this recovery thing a whirl, then I haven’t really made that choice. Our lot as addicts is that if we don’t choose our recovery today, we have by default chosen our addiction.
Every day I can take a step in recovery.
I was a like a child, hoping that my problems would just go away --Quiz Show
King baby – it’s not just that I want what I want when I want it. It’s also that I continue to believe in the magical world of childhood. It’s adorable on kids. But we are not kids now. And the character defect of selfishness, self-absorption, narcissism is not adorable. I often played it off as passion, or principle, or dedication to my work or my cause or my art or my life.
But reality is the world we live in. Reality is where I conduct my relationships; reality is where I am accountable for my actions. The consequences of my unmanageability cannot be wished away. As a friend in program explained, she had her head in the sand, which left her rear waving in the wind.
Accepting my problems and my consequences is not easy. And there is no struggle-free program that I’m aware of. But there also no expectation that I do anything alone or perfectly or even the right way. The program is there for me.
Program doesn’t make my problems magically disappear, but it helps me face them.
Look who knows so much. Turns out your friend is only mostly dead. --The Princess Bride
Holy Hannah do we as addicts have our convictions. There are truths we are just convinced of, positive of. Sometimes it’s a humorous flaw, like when we're convinced that "irregardless" is a word (I had to look that up several times). Other times it’s petty, like when we’re positive we returned that message, even though we’ve been shown that we did not. And sometimes it is hopeless, like when we are convinced that we can’t stay sober.
Why do we invest so strongly in black or white thinking? Well, there are some internal truths that we have clung to for our entire lives – truths like, I’m not good enough; I’m not loveable; I am only accepted when I fill myself with booze or pills or food or sexual conquests. But the program shows us the gray, and how much gray there is. There is humility in not only admitting our wrongs, but coming to believe that there are things we cannot possibly know, or that are not on our side of the street. The truth: what we don’t know literally fills libraries.
What I know is not as important as what I feel.
You've come this far, perhaps you're ready to come a little further. --Shawshank Redemption
The First Step is an amazing accomplishment. From where we stood as active addicts, to admit that we cannot by our own unaided will win against addiction is remarkable. Take the daily admission of powerlessness found in the First Step, and add it to the willingness to believe that there is a greater power than me that can help me, again, a miraculous distance to travel. We have come so far in our recoveries.
But regardless of what step we are on, the program always asks us, come a little further. Have a little more faith. Surrender even more of our lives to our higher power. Admit today’s wrongs today. Of course service – give more away today. These are invitations that we heed imperfectly. And the collection of these distances traveled, that is the road to happy destiny.
I can do a little more today than I did yesterday.
Greg: What's your most expensive bottle of champagne?
Clerk: Mumm's, it’s on sale for …
Greg: Really? That's it? You don't have, like, a nice, like, bottle of something?
Clerk: You can get a whole bunch of Mumm's.
--Meet the Parents
The addict mantra: more. Give me more. If this much is getting me high, then more will get me higher. There is in fact no amount that will satisfy our addiction. Daily drinking, constant over-eating, hours and hours of viewing pornography; we always needed more. Think about it, has a binge ever ended with the thought, ‘now I’ve had enough’? No. Binges end when we run out of our drug of choice. And sometimes we apply the theory of excess to the rest of our lives. If some money is good, more money is better. If being friends with some people is good, then being friends with everyone is better. We can even turn this addictive thinking on the program itself: She has more sobriety than me, she must be better than me.
Then, a glimpse of sanity, a god moment, a prayer, and… We remember this is a thinking disease. Which means my thinking is the problem. And I can’t fix my thinking with the same brain that thinks up my insanity. Luckily, my peers in recovery can tell me when my thinking is faulty, and share how they thought the same thing earlier that day.
In recovery, I do not have to think alone.