Almost 27 years ago, my "house of cards" started to fall, and like any chronic alcoholic / addict I started scrambling, on the lookout for ways in which to extricate myself from the mess that I called my life. This time was different; I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. This time I understood at a deep level that I had to change.
With the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, many meetings (sometimes 3 per day), a sponsor, and the people who make it their business to stay clean and sober, I learned a new way of living life on LIFE'S terms. I followed the "suggestions" of the Program. One of which was to find a "higher power."
I was a "Catholic cradle." There was no technique of searching for a higher power in my religious upbringing that I knew of. There was no SEARCHING, period. One did not search. One believed without question. Growing up, I asked a lot and as a result, was reprimanded for my impertinence. I believed in a "Creator" but had no belief in organized religion, nor confidence in its intrinsic worth. Yet, intuitively I realized that I suffered from a sustained soul sickness, and knew deep within my core that my connection with a "power greater than myself" was still intact, albeit weak and powerless.
Scott Peck, author of "The Road Less Traveled," said at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY. the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. As Fellowship members say, "The steps are written in order." When taken, or "worked," from Step 1 to Step 12 (which sometimes takes years) the result is, what I would call, "enlightenment." If understanding myself, acknowledging and leaving on a "power greater than myself," enumerating my qualities and shortcomings, making amends when possible and where necessary, and setting the spiritual goal of always working these 12 Steps in my life to the best of my ability IS enlightenment, then I have been introduced to enlightenment! I say, "introduced," because it is a lifelong commitment to change.
Bill Wilson, (one of AA's founders), and the philosopher / theologist William James both believed that a "spiritual awakening" is necessary (for alcoholics and addicts) for change. It is not simply a matter of putting down the bottle or drug, nor is it merely seeing a psychiatrist, and it certainly does not depend on high intelligence! Restoring oneself in any of these ways is admirable, but as Bill Wilson says in AA literature, we all know extremely smart or religious people who have "thought themselves" into the grave. What is required is "a substantial personality change."
So it is the spirituality link, awakening to our connection with a higher power, that appears to be the key. My own search, and the searches of many recovering alcoholics / addicts, took me on a journey of spiritual discovery that is ever changing. It is so exciting and rewarding that I will always be exploring! This is not a "religious" search, nor is AA a religious organization. One's spiritual self is of overriding importance; your religion is your own business. AA is not affiliated with any outside group, be it religious nor worldly. AA has been proven to work where other programs do not, be they 100% religious, or 100% secular. AA teachers us how to live life on life's terms: mentally, physically and spiritually!
On February 1, 2007, I will celebrate 27 years clean and sober. This fact is really only important to me and hopefully to the newcomers who thinkably think their lives are over as they attend their first AA meeting!
I can truthfully advise them, "If I can do it, you can do it!"
This is how it's done, one day at a time.