Posts Tagged ‘12 steps’
Step Three: Made a Decision to Turn our Will and Our Lives Over to the Care of God As We Understood Him
This time, much like the first time that I worked my way through the steps, at Step Three, I feel as though I am standing with my toes dangling over the edge of a vast cliff and attempting to will myself to leap. Before me, a self and a way of living that is uncertain and unknown, behind me is my past self, all that I have believed and known and been and all that I must let leave behind. What is before me is less uncertain today and what is behind me that must stay behind is much less that it was the first time. And Yet, where I am going MUST be where I have not dared or been capable of before and what I will leave behind is clearly what I have clung to and been unwilling or unable to release before.
Highly metaphorical, I know, so what exactly would I be leaving behind? and What awaits when I leap off that cliff? To the first point, I am not sure that I know right now. I only know that holding on to it has been allowing me to slip back into spiritual and emotional sickness. The central task in this step is to ask yourself how far are you willing to go? Am I ready to really and truly hand my life and my will over to the care of God? Get ready because here comes the insanity, not having done so is allowing me to fall back into sickness, threatens to get me drunk again and is potentially causing me to make other people miserable and my response to the central questions of this step today, at this moment is: I don’t know. Not the response that I want to have, and I see in it the absolute insanity of my sickness, but there it is in full glory.
What if this time upon examination I realize that I have to change my views on sex, or am called upon to truly take up my calling and dedicate myself to being a prophet? What if, I have to let go of writing all together? Or feel compelled by God to become a real minister? What if my entire world view must change? Am I ready to join a religion or a church? Because I don’t actually have a defined understanding of God and maybe that is the problem! What at the end of the day am I willing to change, relinquish or bring into my life in order to achieve the promises entirely, have serenity and know that I am serving God and my fellow man at my best potential.
I suspect that moving past this and starting my next 4th through 9th step will illuminate the answers, but there is the rub eh? To get to those steps, I have to take a leap of faith, I have to drum up within myself the worst case scenario, assume that I must go that far and then say “yes, I am willing” – In short, I have to be Abraham with his son on the rock and blade in hand, ready to go to any lengths. I don’t know, I doubt, I am not sure. I am afraid.
It isn’t all fear and negativity. I dream sometimes of a me for whom God has expunged fear, doubt, rage and frustration; A me without violence, who knows and understands the path of serenity, love and compassion well enough to teach it and who reaches first for spiritual solutions to all of his problems. I dream of a self that is patient and kind and loving; who pursues his dreams and goals, that is useful to himself, his family and his community. I dream of using my gifts in some way that it benefits the sea of humanity around me. Though each of them frighten me because, I don’t know how to be sure what those paths or how to achieve any of it, or what I might miss over here if I do. It all scares me, but I really do want it and I always have. I wonder (not doubt) what my wife would say if I told her I I want to go to divinity school – not saying that I do necessarily, but who knows right?
Anyway, today was more of a rambling attempt at self discovery than I real blog entry, but this is where I am at. God Bless us all
Make an accounting of those you have harmed is illuminating and painful. I don’t know if it is right or wrong, but for me, what I see today is that the more truly decent someone is, the more any harm I have caused them bothers me, no matter how small or even rationally unavoidable that it may have been.
I’ve done it, I got myself a Sponsor. It may sound simple, but for for an alcoholic it is something to be proud of. When not drunk, we are shy and awkward, but full of pride and it is most difficult to ask a near stranger for help. It also easy to be caught up in looking for the “perfect” person, as it requires a good deal of trust to put some of the quality of your sobriety into someone else’s hands. I am utterly intimidated and confounded by step 4 though and I knew I had to pick someone, so, while I didn’t make my choice without consideration, I made the criteria very small and picked someone who seems to have a serenity about him, is working the program and has himself definitely done a 4th step before.
I also shared last night, for the first time in a long time, from a deeper place inside my heart and it felt good. There is so much work left to be done and I am still waiting to really feel that connection with my higher power returned and to re-establish proper habits of prayer and meditation. I am not yet, fully engaged and committed, but I am dedicated and working on it daily. It is hard, getting back into it. I feel awkward at times at home, my mind still holds apprehensions when talking about spiritual things and wonders what Kim will think or feel if before I crawl in bed I kneel down to pray. However, I want that, I want the humbling and to truly, deeply and honestly commit myself to God and hand myself over to it.
It may have been easier before, because I had a real concept of what that god was, now I am not so sure and though I know that is okay, there is something disquieted in me by that. I suspect to whatever force exists out there, whatever created the grand experiment that is the universe, names and concepts mean little. Kim is right about that, God is vast enough and great enough that we could have no greater concept of him than an Ant or Gnat can have about us. The Buddhists’ would say that we are to God as a single grain of sand is to the whole of the Universe.
I do not believe we are puppets, I do not believe that God is angry, jealous or punitive. I do believe in divine intervention, guidance and a strength that we can draw from. Writing this now, I do not know what I doubted my concept of God, except some desire I suppose for it to be less lonely. Some part of me wants to belong to some form of organized religion because it is easier.
Here is, the best I can describe it, what I believe. There is a creator, that creator is his own creation or rather is exists within him/her. In simplest terms, all things are God and God is all things. Most of all God is The Word; the whole of creation is an expression of his/her mind. All things issue from The Word. Creation is built on systems, many of them, all with parts that perform their functions and it all works, as it should. There are more things in this Universe that are beautiful than we know or appreciate. That which is beautiful, when observed, appreciated and illuminated to our eyes is also divine. This world of ours is teeming with the beautiful and the divine. The system of muses (angels or demi-gods) is present, completely obvious and invisible and it is that system that works through inspired thought, destiny, intervention, ideas and emotion to turn our eyes, our words, our minds and hearts toward the beautiful and the divine. People, Flora, Fauna, Events, Sex, Family, Accomplishment, Arts, Music, Emotions (All of them can be beautiful, save hatred), Words, Ideas. It can all be beautiful and divine if we are looking for it, if we hear the call and see the signs the muses throw at us. It expresses itself in all of us differently.
For me, when I am kind, when I love, when I forgive, when I help, when I write about the beauty I see around me, when I am intimate or reveling in sexuality and worshiping the human form, when I am sad or comforting someone who is, when I am angry for the right reasons, I find the beautiful and the divine and therefore I find The Word. Most of all, when any of these things, or anything else leads me to understand that even regardless of whether it is full of suffering, joy, sorrow, ecstasy or pain, life is always the most beautiful gift and that we or anything at all exists is so improbable as to be truly deserving of the term “miraculous”. Without Life, there would be no suffering, no pain, no addiction, but there would also be no life. Living, while sometimes painful provides the possibility of joy, non-existence does not.
My concepts have been much informed by my Catholic upbringing, but I am no Christian. I am child of the universe, a poet and writer, a prophet of the muses and it seems to me that no matter whose prayers I use when I connect to my higher power it feels like something much more ancient, more substantial and far more loving than and worthy that the angry, self involved god of the old testament.
I am not sure why any of this should matter so much, because, what I do know for sure is that when I pray for help, for strength for guidance, I seem to get it. When I pray for those same things for other people, it seems to help. I do feel better now though, having gone through this exercise today, Felt really plugged in there for a little bit, which tells me I can still make the connection.
“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” Step Two
I affirmed in step one, that I am an alcoholic, that I am powerless over not only alcohol, but the defects of character that result from it. In step two they are asking me to believe that God, or some power greater than myself can restore me to sanity. I want to believe that, because I am in trouble. Kim and I have managed to make a bit of a mess of our relationship, and I own a good deal of that. I have pushed everyone else away and made as many bad choices as I could. Our finances are good and fucked, my health and happiness are greatly diminished and everyone around me suffers.
My part in Kim and I’s troubles is big and last night I frightened her by being aggressive, yelling and pounding on my chest, it hurts very deeply that she wonders if I may start to abuse her, I feel like that is unfair. But then is it? If I am not myself, perhaps she wonders who I am?
For going on a year, almost every time I get her to open up to me, I then punish her for it by judging or pushing or in some way trying to fight or fix rather than listen and it is because I am angry with her, but too afraid to talk about it and too weak and I know I am not mad for any logical reason, that my reasons are unfair and I don’t know how accurate some of the things I think are, because I am not sane. And that is the reality, that I am not sane right now. Not that I am dangerous or out of control, I am not, but I am not well, I am not truly sober and that drives me to make poor choices, to resent, to lose paitence, to behave in ways that are not my real character.
The tragedy is, she felt safe with me before, safer she said than she ever has and I cherished that so much and that the disease and defects are not on top of me 24/7 and there are times when I am truly present, but by the time I am, I have made her withdraw from me.
I wish there was a way to include her more in this process, to have her understand what the disease does and how it is completely impossible for me to overcome it, on my own. I am not weak, just not strong enough to overcome this. Once, a few years ago, I gave myself over to a god of my understanding, a simple program and a fellowship and it transformed me from a miserable, hopeless, irresponsible and selfish waste, into the man that Kim met and fell in love with, into I believe my sane, happy self. I want more than anything to be that and I am willing to go to any lengths to get it. I
Kim and the boys have become the most precious thing I have ever had in my life and ironically, the last few days it has been that fact that has kept me wrestling with handing myself and my will over. The disease keeps telling me that if I am not running the show it will just stop. I have to have faith in god, the program and in Kim. Like it is hard for her to feel safe with and place trust in me, it will be hard to place faith in her, but I must. I have to to trust god and I have to trust her. Restoring her trust in me, will take time and I have to be patient.
I believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity and I believe that if I let it and I work the program, my life and the live’s of everyone around me will get better on their own without my “help”. I don’t want to help anymore. I want to enjoy, inspire, support, hold and be with my love and my family.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we see him
I knelt down last night, beside a sleeping Kim and I said the the third step prayer. I didn’t mean it yet, but today I do. Today, right now, I am pleading with God to take me, guide me, relieve me of the pain, the misery and the impulse to run things. Fill me with strength and humility, more than anything humility and the willingness to do the right things, to listen more than I talk and keep letting go. Help me to be the best husband and father I can be. Help Kim too, help her back to herself and to find the forgiveness and love in her heart for me, help us come back together and be beautiful again, help us to be that safe harbor for each other again. Relieve me of anxiety, fear, guilt and shame and help me to just live, love and laugh.
I have made the decision to turn my will and my life over to you, higher power, god of my understanding. Help me to keep making that choice, each moment, of each day.
Kim, I know you will read this, you are my sheltering sky, my beautiful, wonderful wife, my Mo Anam Cara. I am sorry for faltering, for disappearing and for not taking the right action sooner. I am putting everything in god’s hands and I trust that everything will be okay, this will pass and we will be beautiful again.
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable” AA – Step One
To keep it simple, this had to be the step and it is the right words to use, but to me, like many other alcoholics, there is a good deal more that is brought to mind and rings true. I am powerless over alcohol and many, many other things, like Depression, Anger, Resentment, Self Will, Laziness, Excess, Fear. The list goes on and on like that.
Though I have not had drink in close to 3 and a half years, I have no more power over alcohol today than I did when I was drinking and it takes more strength that I have on my own to keep from picking up the next drink. It takes more strength and wisdom than I possess on my own to keep doing the right things and to have the right attitude; to be myself and the best self that I can be.
I forgot all of this and even once I remembered it took so long for me re-commit to the program of recovery that I entered three years ago. That said, here I am once again and I am grateful that it has been there waiting for me, that I have AA and a higher power.
I am starting over, right here at Step One and as my form of meditation, I am going to write my way through each of the steps, as I started to once before and I hope that this time I make it through all of them before I choose to start over.
So, is Step One really?
Step One is really the admission of our own humanity, the first of many humbling steps in AA. When we contemplate and work on Step One, we come to examine the human and self efforts that we have put forth in the past and acknowledge a few things:
1. Alcoholism is a disease, it is an “allergy”. Alcoholics process alcohol differently than other people and it simultaneously does more cellular damage in us and produces a powerful and urgent need for more. It is also a disease of the mind, producing obsessive thinking, so that even when the physical craving is not present the obsessive craving is. The disease also has effects that a broad reaching; inebriation as an avoidant coping mechanism is psychologically and spiritually unhealthy and all manner of moral/character defects spring from it, stunted mental and emotional growth, anxiety, mania, self absorption, grandiosity, guilt, shame, self loathing, depression, sexual misconduct, poor hygiene, poor life and relationship skills, control, self seeking…the list goes on an on. This is how, ultimately, it makes life unmanageable.
2. We are powerless over this disease and ultimately over the defects of character that have resulted from it. We can never, drink like normal people do. If you have been in the program a while, you might see that we are powerless over almost everything. Nothing is truly in our control, except, our decision to put the right effort into our own selves. This is not to say that we are weak, by any means, we are talking about recovery from an otherwise incurable, physical, psychological and spiritual disease. Could I go the rest of my life and not pick up a drink, maybe. I am firm in my belief though that I would likely still suffer the miserable side effects of the disease without a spiritual and task driven program like this one. If anyone has found something better, I encourage them to do that instead.
3. Our “running the show” has left our lives a wreck, whether it is the very tangible consequences of not unpaid bills, criminal charges and failed health, or simply strained and ruined relationships, we have not only poured ourselves a pool of terrible hell and misery to bath in, but we have splashed it upon others.
If we are alcoholics and it has taken the usual amount of time for us to find our way to AA (without court orders), we are typically ready to listen, understand and admit, having tried everything else, controlled drinking, switching brands, types and times, following systems of rules, abstinence on our own, therapy, rehab, etc..etc..that we are powerless over alcohol.
For me, right now, the second part is bigger…My life had become and remains unmanageable, why? Because for the last year and a half, the manager of my life has really been poorly qualified and wholly inept, we cannot fire him, but he does need demoted. That manager is me, I have been trying run the show, which keeps me too busy to work the steps and leads me to do nothing but give myself the opportunity to make poor choices, which invariably I make.
My name is James, I am an alcoholic. I am powerless over alcohol and my life has become unmanageable. This has been my first step (take two). Thank you for sharing it with me. I look forward to sharing my journey through the steps, as well as my experience, strength and hope with the world.
That’s what they say in AA, I haven’t been to a meeting in a long time and it is growing in me; I am getting depressed, angry, selfish and becoming a shadow of who I really am. I am hearing that nasty voice whispering to me and getting urges and cravings like I haven’t had since I quit drinking. I don’t like or feel better going to the AA Meetings here in Michigan, the Aspergers or something, makes it hard enough to connect with people and I think it only worked in North Carolina because they pulled me in, so warm and welcoming and concerned about new comers. I need to get back though, I need AA and God to help me or I am gonna find myself drunk and I will lose everything.
Thinking of trying to start a meeting with just my nephew and Kim, though she is not an alcoholic, if she can keep an open mind, it will help to have her be a part of it. I miss myself and I miss the serenity; I feel caught in whirlpool of shit, like I am being sucked under and though I can see the place I want to be and the serenity that is there, I cannot move.
I think before I can embrace step two, I need to take stock of what it is that I believe. It is hard to express this in any sort of concise set of words. I started as a Catholic but as an intellect, artist and truth seeker I wandered the worlds religions, great and small alike. Some I tried to embrace, all of them, I studied throughly. After christianity, Bhuddism and Taoism came the closest to capturing and holding onto me. What truth did I discover on this journey of spiritual sampling? I came to believe that no one religion has the proper name or accurate picture of God, as wise people tell me often, whatever force created or manages the universe is far too great for us to truly comprehend in any expressible way. So then, faith, real religious experience is a feeling, an experience of sense so awesome and unique as to be inexpressible. All the bibles, sutras and sermons in the world have failed to express it. I would argue, some are designed to bring us the experience rather than describe it, to profit devotion which can beget faith. The one book that seems to have the facts right is the Tao Te Ching, which tells us that the moment you try to express the divine you have lost it.
In that vein, I am left to ponder how to give a name to a higher power or how to place my faith in something that has no name. I am not sure at this time if I am for any organized religion giving a name to God, though I consider returning to the Catholic church. I do not believe that any one of the world religions is right, but I am not convinced it makes them entirely wrong. For me, where I feel closest to faith, to the divine is during this simple act, in writing, poetry in particular and in acts of sex, touching another beautiful body, another soul.
The writing bit, I suppose makes me believe in the muses, in the seemingly magical power of words, even if they fail to capture the true essence of the divine they can be beautiful and moving just the same, and they are the vehicle by which all human knowledge, understanding and tradition are carried forward in time. Reading the words of poets like Rumi, I can almost smell the mixed air of salt and sand in the old muslim world. The stench of piss and absinthe in Rimbaud’s Paris and it stirs an indescribable feeling of being connected into some continuum. Perhaps this faith in words, in beauty and simple divinity is misplaced and has not served me well. If so, perhaps I should seek out a more traditional god figure. I don’t know, perhaps I am the one that has not served it well enough. I know that I will, because I must, ponder it from now until a resolution reveals itself. I think I need some resolution before I can pass beyond this (second) and the next step.