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  • Alumni Perspective: Letting my light shine

    by Joe T. (Sullivan 1992)

    Our program suggests that we try to live our lives one day at a time, but I have learned over my 20 plus years in the fellowship that it’s also important for me to make plans. There’s the old saying, “if we fail to plan, we are planning to fail.”

    For the past 15 or so years I have gathered with my wife and kids on New Year’s Day to set goals for the upcoming year and to see how close we came to achieving our goals from the previous year.

    Often those goals include being more dedicated to my recovery program, being a better sponsor, a better father, husband, etc. But I also set financial, material and career goals. I often fall short of these, but the key for me is to not attach any expectations to those goals. As my sponsor used to tell me, “expectations are premeditated resentments and resentments kill more alcoholics than anything else.” I have to accept the fact that I’ve done the best I can to reach these goals and it’s all good.

    At the same time, I think it’s important to set my goals high, without fear of failing to reach the target. The fear of failure is one of the character defects I am still working to overcome. But I have a passage that helps in that regard. It’s a quote by Marianne Williamson, which I would like to share with you:

    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

    I want to shine! I want everyone to shine! I want to overcome my fear of failure and I don’t want to be afraid of success.

    I also want to “make manifest the glory of God that is within.”

    My connection to my higher power is my primary goal. When I’m feeling that connection, my ego is out of the picture. But when my ego is in control, God is nowhere to be found, and I can find myself becoming an emotional, spiritual wreck.

    I recently committed to becoming a volunteer counsellor at the Sullivan Centre in Brooklin. One of my goals in the coming year will be to follow through with this commitment and to see how I can help the men I am blessed to come into contact with.

    My journey began at the Sullivan Centre in May of 1992, which has led to a life I couldn’t have dreamed of before recovery: the relationships I enjoy with family and friends; the freedom of the bondage of self; the inner peace, the promises in the Big Book materializing in every aspect of my life. I am truly blessed.

    But as I learned a long time ago, I have to give it away to keep it. Gratitude is an action!

    I believe that working with other alcoholics, taking them through the book and the steps, has helped rocket me “into a fourth dimension of existence.”

    I hope I will continue to follow this path. I know that will be one of the goals I will be setting for myself when I gather with my wonderful family on New Year’s Day.

    About the Authors

    Renascent Alumni
    Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.