In my first year of sobriety I made the rather startling discovery that my problem was not really alcohol, it was me! Specifically, my problem was centered in the way I had perceived the world and myself, the way I thought, and my inability to control my erratic emotions. Getting out of the problem, therefore, must mean in some way getting out of myself – not something that I was comfortable with or in the habit of doing.
My hope for you is that you will keep coming back, and by doing so you will become a part of the solution. When you have what seems to be a problem, don’t focus on the problem. What we resist, persists. Rather, turn it over to the God of your personal understanding and take action. Try to see the light instead of the darkness, even if it is just a small flicker. Allow the sleeping beauty within you to be awakened by the sweet kiss of faith, hope and courage.
Most of us have been raised in an environment where negativity trumps gratitude. Like all things we want to be better at, adopting a perspective of gratitude is something we must practice. Through cultivating a practice of gratitude, we are able to be more deliberate in holding a positive mindset – even when it does not come naturally.
Do you think this is just another day in your life? It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you – today. If you do nothing else but learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.
Humility is important for a successful recovery. Many of us nod our heads and say “yes, of course it is,” but deep down do we really believe it? Almost any recovering addict or alcoholic runs the risk of overconfidence after they get some initial clean time under their belt, and it can become easy to secretly believe that we have all the answers.
Humility says, “Who should I ask?” Arrogance says, “Who must I tell?” Humility chooses to listen. Arrogance always rushes to speak. Humility says, “I’m not unique. Others have gone before me and I can learn from their perspective.” Arrogance says, “I’m so unique, you cannot possibly understand me.”
Defects don’t just disappear because we are ready. We have to be willing to have them removed, and only praying to our Higher Power is going to make that happen. We cannot wish them away. True, some will be easy but the ones most engrained in our person, the ones that protected us from the real world, the ones that encouraged our addictions, are the difficult ones. These are the demons which could lead us right back to the insane existence from which we finally emerged.
I was stunned to find myself in a church basement with about 200 other people. I was so worried that I would meet people I knew, that my professional reputation would be ruined, that all my years of carefully hiding my shameful secret would become public. By even coming to this meeting I was somehow admitting, rather begrudgingly, that I was an alcoholic. And I wasn’t ready to make my “problem” so public.
Too often people emphasize the negative interpretation of surrender, meaning either cowardice or simply giving up. In the context of recovery, the word surrender is a powerful and hopeful word. Nobody surrenders to die. Surrender is about life.
This beautiful song by Elizabeth Edwards simply and powerfully describes the freedom we find in recovery.