by John W.

Something had to change if I was going to get sober. After making that admission and finally becoming willing to look at change for me, the screen of alcoholic denial having finally been fatally pierced, my miracle occurred. That obsession was lifted and I haven’t had a drink since. That dreadful, horrible, demanding obsession was gone. After getting a sponsor and working the Steps, I started to learn, appreciate and really understand the tremendous gift I had been given and how I had to work each day to nurture that gift. I, like so many others, emphasized 10, 11, and 12, the Maintenance Steps, for this purpose.

Something had to change

Life on life’s terms continued to happen, I began to also see how applying the steps to the practical problems I faced every day which baffled me, was working the steps. So as life’s trials began to take repeated wrong turns, as my plans continued to fall short, I realized that to survive more change was needed. I realized that the same process that had defeated the obsession one day at a time had to be brought to bear on those problems in my life that had nothing to do with drinking. They also were defined by my alcoholism. The inventory, both searching and fearless, was taken. The admission to myself, my Higher Power and another came shortly after. But was I now entirely ready?

When I took my first Sixth Step, I wanted never to drink again. I was consumed by that desire because of the dreadful experiences I heard from those who slipped, whether it was a day and a beer or a brandy that led to years in hell and a .45 pistol in the mouth. I felt like I had lived these experiences with those who described them and I didn’t need to know them firsthand. But this newer experience with Step 6 was different.

Nothing to do with drinking, but everything to do with how I lived life

I had been sober a while. I went to meetings daily, sponsored men and worked a good program. Now I was being asked to become entirely ready to have God remove shortcomings which had nothing to do with my drinking, but everything to do with how I lived life as a sober man. I was getting to see, up close and personal, just what it meant to work the steps. I had to be prepared to work Step 6 anew and progress in my program beyond where I had arrived at that moment. I looked into the eyes of the man who had just heard my Fifth Step as he asked the question: So are you entirely ready to give these up, too?

I was no more ready to give him my honest answer than he expected to hear it and he said so. He told me to get quiet and ponder that task, that decision. So I did as was suggested. Even for the aspects of my life which were so vitally important, yet unquestionably out of my control. It was in the meditation which followed, the contemplation of the Steps which I had taken to arrive at this point, that something fresh and new happened.

Unlike my first Step 6, where relief from drink was primary, the relief here was on a different, more “in your face” level. It was as if I were looking at myself in a mirror asking: Is it that time yet? Are you finally ready?

The words I heard in my meditation were also those of the step. There could be no reservations, no holding back. This was a quite different experience. As I acknowledged my willingness in the moment of serenity, I did know a new happiness.

This I believe was what the Big Book describes as conscious contact. Although I was alone, I had a profound feeling that I was not. I seemed to even know that all would be well, regardless of the outcome. I had let the steps work in my life and I was at peace.

photo credits available upon request to [email protected]
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