by Rahim J. (Punanai 2011)
The concept of spirituality that I understood as I was raised stemmed from the teachings and practices of my religion, Islam. Meditation and service were essential factors of my faith but as I grew older, I was drawn more towards service because of the friendship, escape, and fun that I lacked when I was at home. Meditation was never ‘pushed’ on me by my parents, although they kept talking about how important it was in our faith. Another concept I learned through my faith was having balance between the spiritual and material life – to have one without the other, or to have too much of either, wasn’t considered good.
As I grew older, I was more attracted to the fun and escape I found in material life. There was a deficit I had always felt growing up and I was able to fill it up with social bonds and adventures. As time went on, practice in my faith diminished and I relished the occasional escape and fun I had with friends, which led to the beginning of my using and drinking just before I turned thirteen.
Almost three decades went by and my search for escape and fun, fuelled by alcohol and sometimes other substances, led me down a dark tunnel. In all this time, I was able to get an education, an awesome career, and a wife and son too. I spent years managing the balance between my material life and my addiction. The light of spirituality was but a memory, although I did pray desperately when I found myself in feelings of remorse, guilt, and fear.
When the rooms found me, I was told that a God of my understanding would restore my sanity. I couldn’t remember anytime in my life that I had lived in sanity. What I had portrayed on the outside was never in synch with what was going on inside my head. Dishonesty and manipulation had became second nature, almost like survival skills. In the last years of my drinking, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t stop, even knowing what the consequences would be.
As my sponsors guided me through the 12 Steps, and as I got active in service, it was suggested to me to begin praying and meditating. It wasn’t until I had completed my fourth and fifth steps that I was able to stop thinking for a measurable amount of time. The unconditional love and support I found in the fellowship started filling that age-old, dark deficit I always had, through the light of service and unity. It wasn’t until I got to know myself better, cleaned my side of the street, and loved others unconditionally, that I was able to understand what spirituality meant to me. I had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps and I have started on a journey in the search of the God of my understanding.