Tuesday, June 21, 2011

...more about living...

So, when you first get in recovery it takes everything inside to just not take that first drink and drug. I mean, it's ridiculous how hard that is. Even as an alcoholic and addict in recovery it's hard to explain why it's so difficult. I wasn't even experiencing any outright physical withdrawals or cravings, but the mentality of the emotional dependance as a result from using for 12 years is POWERFUL. That's why Step 1 is what it is:

  • Step 1--Admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable.

It took me a while to realize this...even after 3 misdemeanor DWI charges and 1 felony for possession of Xanax. "Oh, being arrested 3 times in less than 2 weeks does NOT make me an alcoholic! I mean...really, what IS an alcoholic anyways? Certainly not me." It is so obvious now that this type of thinking was ridiculous. Another "cunning, baffling, and powerful" part of addiction is the brain's ability to rationalize the alcoholism and drug abuse. It only took some more relapses and jail time to officially bring me whole-heartedly and willingly into the "I'm an alcoholic and addict" status.

Okay, so alcohol and drugs are more powerful than I am. If I sit here with this knowledge the only thing I'm going to do is rationalize another drink and drug...since I AM powerless over it and all. That's why the Steps are set up to be worked. You have to keep moving in recovery. There's a famous saying that "if you're not growing, you're going", and I've personally experienced the truth in this saying. So...

  • Step 2-Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  • Step 3-Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
In the beginning it's really hard to imagine that anything could stop you from using. This is mostly because most of your life is characterized by using. The drug has long ago started using you, rather than you using the drug. It's just how you operate at this point. But there comes a point in recovery where if you really want this thing to work for you then you have to come to the realization that, although your drug is more powerful than you are, there is Something out there that is more powerful than your drug. Belief in something is a vague idea in which some confidence is placed (shout out to the Dictionary! app). I came. I came to. I came to believe. I had a vague idea that maybe my Higher Power could bring me some sanity. Being insane is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So if my Higher Power is going to make me sane that means I have to do my part by thinking differently.

Step 3 is the only step that mentions the word "decision". I believe this is because Step 3 is the ultimate decision. All other decisions will fall into place much more easily once I commit myself to this ultimate decision. Now, these steps aren't a one-time deal. I have to practice, keyword "practice", these steps everyday if I want my day to count. It is only by practicing a skill that you can own it. I can't turn my will and life over to the care of God once and be set. Just like I cant hang out with a person once and call them a best friend for the rest of my life. That is a bit delusional. The 3rd Step Prayer has to be a daily thing for me in my recovery.

  • 3rd Step Prayer-God I offer myself to You-to build with me and to do with me as You will. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Your will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Your Power, Your Love, and Your Way of life. May I do Your will always.

I have 8 months sober as of June 9th. I can't really remember the last time I honestly struggled with the thought of using. It's not so much about that anymore. Step 1 is the only step that mentions alcohol for a reason. It's a program for recovery...but it's a program that is more about living. Alcohol is a symptom of underlying problems. If I want to live a meaningful life, I first need to learn how to live. And if I'm not learning how to live then there is no way I'm living a meaningful life...so why be sober? You really might as well just drink and use if you are going to remain a miserable person.

That's why you cant just stop at Step 3. You have to keep going. You have to figure out what you have been covering up by all the alcohol and drugs. What's keeping you from being useful? Where have you wronged others (even when you feel that others have wronged you)?

  • Step 4-Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  • Step 5-Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step 4 has allowed me to stop exerting so much energy on projecting all of my problems on other people. I don't have to hold onto anger and resentments toward others, because every one of those resentments reveal a character defect in ME. Isn't that crazy?! Step 5 is all about getting real, and learning how to let another person know that real you. Now there is the list of our character defects such as self-centered fears, intolerance, envy, etc. I see my shortcomings that keep me from being useful to God and to others. I need to keep working these steps. If I'm not in the practice of working the Steps then I'm no longer moving forward...I'm just staying stagnantly sober.
  • Step 6-Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  • Step 7-Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
They say that 6 & 7 get worked side by side. These are the real "getting into action" steps. These two steps can get easily over-looked as being no-brainers. But action must be taken with these steps. I have to "act as if" my shortcomings are being removed by practicing mindfulness of my thoughts and actions. I can't expect God to give me patience if all I do is practice impatience all day. If I don't practice these steps and strive towards the removal of my shortcomings then there really isn't much substance to anything else that I do.

This is where I'm at this time around in my recovery. I've gotten to Step 7 with a new sponsor who is absolutely fabulous. It is progress, not perfection. Things do not always appear clear-cut or easy. I've gone through some difficult times. I don't always do or say the right things, and I can still find myself practicing those same character defects even after going through these steps. But the difference is that I have become more mindful of these things, and I am more aware of where the answers are in the midst of my problems. This is the longest continuous sobriety I've ever had, and I honestly feel like I've been given this whole new life. I have gained a lot of things while in this program, but the program isn't about what we get. It's about what we are willing to give up. When I give up the negative things that hold me back, positive things will naturally take their place. I am grateful for everything and everyone in my life today. It would really be hard to stay sober if it wasn't for the people I have in my life today. My family has stood beside me and believed in me all the way through this even when I couldn't believe in myself. They have loved me when I was unlovable, and given me strength when I felt broken. The friends I have in my life surround me with positivity and acceptance. My girlfriend is a beautiful sober girl that cares and loves hard. I could never imagine that I would have the life I do today. For everything and everyone, I am grateful, and I hope that I am able to return even a piece of that goodness that I have received.

1 comment:

  1. I am so grateful for YOU. Thank you, ms redimpson, for pointing me in the direction in which you yourself are heading. You have inspired and loved me, and I in turn love you with all of my heart. I'm proud to call you a bestie. I enjoyed reading this, and I hope you post lots more.