Posts Tagged ‘Higher Power’
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
Since around the time that my mother’s cancer got bad, perhaps even longer, I have not been the same, haven’t been myself and have been way off center. I haven’t felt right or been acting right and suddenly that awful trajectory has slipped into overdrive. When you are a recovered alcoholic and you find yourself lost or in a tailspin there is just one thing to do, start over at Step One and walk all the way through, this time do it better, if you think you did it with a willingness to go to any lengths, go farther. Go to more meetings and get a new sponsor.
It is my intention to do all of that starting right now, before I am lost and hopefully better with greater abandon and willingness to surrender than any time before so I don’t have find myself back this far again. As part of my meditation and conscious contact, I will try to write something, hopefully with Gratitude every day. When I am focused on a step, I will write about it. I won’t publish my (next) fourth step here, but I will talk about it.
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol— that our lives had become unmanageable
4.6 years or 1684 days ago, I was without exaggeration dying. Having one fat bloated foot in the grave and the other in pool of whiskey. I was an alcoholic of the hopeless variety and at 34 I had an illustrious drinking career spanning almost two decades. I had tried to moderate, tried to quit and tried to deny my problem, sometimes I even acknowledged I was an alcoholic, but didn’t think that was a problem. I couldn’t see how it was destroying my relationships, my mental or emotional state, or care about how it was killing me. So, yeah by the letter of it, I know Step One for a fact everyday.
That said, if you aren’t paying attention the fine print between the lines of Step One can be overlooked, forgotten or ignored. At nearly five years sober, I alternate between understanding and forgetting that my powerlessness over alcohol is almost the least of my problems (because I have no desire to drink today), because there is a list over things, which stacked end to end could reach to the moon and back, that I am also powerless over and unable to do shit about. Just like continuing to drink or trying to conquer it without God’s help, continuing to try to have power over any item on this list will make my life unmanageable.
What am I powerless over? In short form it is:
People: Examples, My stepsons Autism, his attitude and his choices (when I’m not around). I cannot make my friends sober, or make them do things that are good for them, I cannot make my wife work out, take medicine or go to the doctor, I don’t get to choose for other people and I CAN judge them, but it will only make me unhappy and less useful to them.
Places: Examples, Can’t change systems or my very much about my place in them. Schools, Courts, Work, Police, Creditors all operate and have the authority they do and I will not be able to overcome that
Things: Stuff breaks, cars die, houses are in their state, money is never abundant enough, traffic goes however it goes, rain, sleet, snow, heat. I have power and authority over absolutely none of these things and that is just how it is, no amount of fear or worry, or rage or pleading or pleasing is going to make that change.
and my life has become unmanageable
Because for nearly five years I have been prone to distraction and dropping out and holding back, my life, while so much better than it was before, is not managed like it should be today. I have multiple lawyers pursuing me financially and have met suddenly with around between 12 and 17 thousand dollars that absolutely must be paid out to creditors and taxes in the next 8 months or so and I am sure that my ex wife will be following suite since she isn’t getting payments. Almost comically I am in jeopardy of losing a fucked up mess of a house that I don’t even have a mortgage on because I have neglected to pay the taxes! Holy shit, who does that?
Someone, who is seriously ill, who has a program of recovery that works miracles, has worked miracles for him, but who has held back and hasn’t been paying attention in class because he is a terminal fool.
My life is no longer unmanageable because of alcohol, but because God talks and I don’t listen, or I am too afraid to do what is right, or speak up or take charge. Fear, Fear, Fear, Fear, Fear until I am tired of being afraid and lash out with anger, upsetting everyone and thinking I can control everything. I am it seems at times a farce, a comical exaggeration of a man.
With a powerful need to escape all of this, I will drop to my knees today and say unto the Teeth Mother, the other Sacred Muses and the Word, my own Step One
I admit that I am powerless over alcohol, other things, people and places and having forgotten that, have made my life entirely unmanageable; I am lost and adrift and will not find my way alone.
Step One: The Prodigal son comes home, having made a mess on his own.
My wife Kim, myself and our youngest boy have all been very ill with this horrible flu that has been going around. This weekend I chose to push through it (being the least affected, though trust me that is cold comfort) and be as productive as I could.
It may not seem like it in the moment, but when I do the right things, when I am productive and useful to others, I always feel happier and more centered. There is still much to be done, but I spent my time trying to order the house and get giant piles of laundry done. It is staggering how easily I give into my laziness and excuses when all I get out of it are negative feelings of ineptitude, guilt and shame. Instead, when I am productive I feel happy, more confident and more fulfilled.
I think upon entering AA four years ago, that was best advice given to me, “just take it one day at a time, and always ask yourself and your higher power what next right thing is, then go do it.” I want to get better at following that consistently.
I am not sure where the Universe is pushing me, what it has planned for me or what myself, my loves and my destination will look like in the near future. In other words, I am so entirely lost that there is very little I know and undertand at this point. I am not sure if I don’t know who I really am, or if I just don’t know how to be, accept and embrace who I really am. A few days ago those thoughts had me terribly bothered. Monday night, something happened and I couldn’t tell you what exactly, though my intuition tells me it was a spark, an ember of the fire that will lead me to a promised spiritual experience, one that I am yearning and working for. I have, more often than not, felt quite simply, grateful and positive since Monday night. I am still lost, much is still very unclear and I know little more about my destination than I where I am presently, but for now, I think that is just fine. I don’t know. I don’t know what God, or myself, or the world at large expects of me, in a broad and general sense. I do know a few things, such as, there are things I can do each day that are positive and necessary, that are helpful to others and will aide me in getting outside of myself. I can do some chores around my house, cook my family dinner, spend quality, honest time with my wife and kids, go to work and be productive, go to the gym and put in my best effort. I can read, pray and do step work and go to a meeting, share honestly about my experience, strength and hope and offer any aide I can to other alcoholics, which for now is limited to physical services like rides, sharing at the tables and trading phone numbers and calls. I can resist the temptation to go back and edit rambling entries like these, allow the imperfect to be just that and not worry about anything more than the action of writing, as a quiet meditation and a practice.
I would like to thank AA, my friends there, those who started the whole thing and I would like to thank my Higher Power for the grace, strength and courage I have been given to go along with my existence and the existence of all other things. I am confused, I am uncertain, I am lost, but that is alright, because I don’t have the steering wheel anyway and I believe the power that does will get me where I need to be.
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.
I forget to pray for the angels
And then the angels forget to pray for us.
Once upon a time I sat in rooms and watched as men and women, their heads hung in shame, confessed before a crowd of peers that they had lost their recovery. Some had drank again, others just stopped doing the right things, stopped showing up and their disease and therefore their lives had once again become unmanageable. At the time, I told myself this is important, this is truth, remember this. I sussed out the dangerous pattern that every one of them had followed. First, they stopped showing up and without the accountability, they slowly stopped doing the steps and the other rituals, they told themselves they are strong enough now to go it alone anyway. Soon, they lost sight of what was important, of whom was important, then they decided all of those things were okay and then before they knew it, they were in trouble and they started tossing out whatever good things existed in their lives, dancing all over the self destruct button.
The ones I met were the lucky ones, I knew that too, many never make it back, dead, in prison or on the way to both destinations. I took all of this in, once upon a time. I made myself pay attention so I would remember the stories. I told myself, this will never happen to me, I would never be so dumb.
Then…I stopped showing up. I stopped doing the steps and staying vigilante; I decided I was strong enough to go it alone, I forgot all about those people and their stories, the same story, over and over and over again. I decided I was special, I was the one in a million alcoholic that could carry the burden by myself. For a while, I think perhaps I did alright, or I just wasn’t tested. But I too lost sight of what was important, I grew selfish and lost all gratitude for the things I was given every single day. I grew negative and greedy and over the last few weeks, I nearly drove the best of my blessings out of my life. All to learn a lesson for the millionth time since I started with AA. I am not special, I am not immune, I am not different. It will happen to me, as it has everyone else. I am not the one that can do it when no one else can. That is apparently a very hard pill for me to swallow and keep down.
The truth is that, while I am not weak, I have a disease that is stronger than I am, it is so much stronger than I am that it takes the help of everyone around me, rituals, constant maintenance and the aide of God to relieve me of the symptoms. I have to accept that and surrender to it. I have to believe too that maybe this was all by design, maybe I never really gave myself over entirely, my will, my commitment. A lesson hard learned and as usual not at my expense alone.
To that end and with the choice of not doing what I needed to, I hurt someone. I hurt Kim and while I am remorseful, I know that I must be more than sorry, that I must right myself and make amends for my poor judgement and the ensuing behavior. She has forgiven me my trespass and that in itself is something to be grateful for, because my behavior could easily have cost me her and the boys.
The subject of Kim, leads me to something else, to another apology and amends that I must make. To my Higher Power, the god I pray to. In the last two years I have been showered with blessings, almost non-stop; The love and kindness of friends and family, a job, not being drunk and experiencing hope and happiness – then the coupe de grace, this woman, this wonderful amazing woman who loves me more than I deserve, those beautiful boys of hers and the experience of connecting with them and caring for them, all of it heaped upon me as though I was deserving of it. My response, my response was greed: to ask for more and throw fits when I my requests went unanswered or a small bump appeared in my path. I seldom asked anyone what I can do for them, what I should be doing to be worthy of the gifts I was handed, I just asked for more. I am sorry it got to here before I saw all of this, but I know now what I have, what I nearly lost and that I should be thanking you and the universe and the people around me every day for the things I have.
So, I will learn soon what it is to stand in one of those rooms and say I lost my recovery because I thought I knew better. thought I could go it alone. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t drink, because ultimately that isn’t the point, the point is to be rid of the defects of character that made being an addict possible. The point is to be restored to being a valuable, useful, purposeful human being that is of use and value to the people around him, rather than being a drain or a terror. So, thank you, thank you to everyone for dealing with me.
The affect of losing sight of the blessings in your life is the elevation of things that do not deserve to be important, the turning of your own attitude to darkness and the destruction of those things in your life that are good. Kim, the beat of my heart now, the sun in my sky, I love her and the kids and I nearly let it all go because I wasn’t doing the right things and I lost sight of what was important and stopped appreciating my blessings.
Remember to ask Mr J, everyday, Am I in Recovery? Am I doing the right things? What do I have to be grateful for? How can I serve other people today?