by Dee Harris
In AA I’ve learned that I have no control over people, places and things. Keeping that in mind and, more importantly, in my heart, has taken a huge weight and self-chosen unnecessary burden off my shoulders. Before getting sober I thought I was some intellectual guru who could get anything I wanted, if I put my mind to it.
When I discovered that no matter how hard I tried, how smart I was, how many college degrees I had, I could not go a day without drinking, I realized I had to try a new approach. Well, not really. I didn’t choose to black-out that day and miss work. But that’s how my life in recovery started.
Working the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous has changed how I look at life and how I look at and feel about myself. Taking that step back and looking at things objectively sure put a different perspective on my way of thinking and my attitude. When I look at the part I played in the resentments I carried on my shoulders, the lightbulb slowly started to shine its light.
The Serenity Prayer helped me tremendously in early sobriety and still does today Simple and beautifully stated to get me back in the moment and out of my ego:
God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
Courage to change the things I can.
And wisdom to know the difference.
Remember, I have no control over people, places and things; therefore, I can’t change them, nor is it any of my business. I’ve got to remember that just like I am on my own journey through life, so is everyone else. Sometime in my life, even though I was told not to touch the hot iron, I got burned by it. Only then did I take more care in preventing such pain. So I won’t deprive you of your awesome journey and learning experiences.
And I shall no longer let what you think or say about me lead me to react. I won’t be hurt nor resentful. I won’t lash back nor storm away. You’re entitled to your opinions and actions. Again, not my business because I have no idea what your journey has put you through to treat me in such a way.
And today I have a Higher Power over to whom I can turn my will and life. My God of My Own Understanding has my back, introduces me to who He sees fit, provides experiences He feels will serve my purpose of sharing my experience, strength and hope. I only have to answer to my Higher Power who doesn’t expect perfection from me, but just to do my best.
So I no longer have to react because I now know that everything happens for a reason, just perfectly. I just have to ask for guidance to learn that reason, to share it, to provide hope and optimism. So step back into the present moment, see the whole picture, and savor how you will grow.
So when I was sober for over 13 years I wasn’t experiencing harmful cravings. But I had stopped going to meetings, helping fellow alcoholics, being of service, and so on. But more importantly, one day at a time, my old thinking came back and I stopped living from my heart. I found myself being more judgmental and, although, I thought I was in close communion with my Higher Power, my brain was telling me that and there was no one around to call me on my bullsh*t.
So when offered a drink, although I stated I hadn’t had a drink in over 13 years, my friend said she would leave it for me just in case I changed my mind. I could surely cop a resentment about this but I look at this perfect moment as a God Shot and with endless gratitude.
You see, that drink yelled at me and I had no defense. I feel that AA meetings pay my sobriety insurance policy. Being active in the fellowship also allows me to be in service to the newcomer (I was once a newcomer and am a newcomer once again). I had forgotten what it was like to be a newcomer…the shame, the guilt, the cravings, the rationalizations. And, unless I give it away, I can’t keep it, so I forgot how valuable my sobriety was…and lost it.
Immediately that first shot of tequila yelled at me, “More!” So my friend brought me another and the lying, cheating and hiding once again filled my life that had been so positive, optimistic and hopeful for so many years. I am so thankful for this relapse for getting me back right-sized, humble and grateful. I shall never again stop paying my insurance premiums.
So today I get to use all my energy in a productive and positive way. I seldom get feelings of anger, anxiety or depression and when these arise I know to check whether or not I’m in H.A.L.T. (hungry-angry-lonely-tired) and I know that if I turn it over to my Higher Power, these feelings, too, shall pass; they always do. I get to experience peace and patience, and contentment and self-love and -acceptance that I never experienced before, knew I was lacking, nor cared to find.
My Higher Power and the AA fellowship has taught me how dangerous life can be for me if I get back into my selfish, destructive, ego. By going to a meeting or by being of some other type of service, I get to experience the feelings of happy, joyous and free. I remind myself to be mindful, respectful, loving and compassionate so that I can make eye contact with you when we meet and I shall learn what God intended me to learn today. It is not all about me today; it’s about how can I be of service to YOU!
I am not a saint. I am not perfect. I am a human being who still makes bad choices. But today when I realize the yucky feeling that bad choice has put in my gut, I learn to steer clear of making that bad choice again. And I learn to apologize when my actions or words have been inappropriate or hurtful; I’m just trying to keep my side of the street clean and get through life with a clear conscience.
So today I do the best I can, stay close to the AA fellowship, be of service, stay mindful and in the moment. Doing this allows me to be humble and grateful for a Power Greater Than Myself who is in control and this God of My Own Understanding has given me the most wonderful life in sobriety that I could have never dreamed of!
If you find yourself struggling, please reach out to me, someone you can trust, or a wealth of support groups available to you. Know you are not alone. Know there is no need to feel guilt or shame; it doesn’t serve you. Know that everything in your life has and is happening for a reason…just perfectly…to make you the best you that you can be!
With warmest aloha, Dee Harris