by John W.
Like many others before me, I had heard the mantras: Don’t Drink, Get a Sponsor, Work the Steps—Your Life Will Change. I thought of this change as being of a tangible nature. Things would quiet down at home or in the office (in my case maybe in both places). This financial insecurity thing would be gone and I would be good to go, for life. I mean, weren’t my difficulties to be taken away, so as to mark this way of life to the newbie just struggling in the door?
He smirked a little as I explained
With wife and children back, my job roses, my IRA soaring, I could shout the praises of A.A. from the rooftops for anyone with a problem and an interest (anonymously of course). This was my plan. My guy, Owen, then with 26 years behind him, smirked a little as I explained this. He gently responded, “More will be revealed.”
Owen wouldn’t tell me what he meant by that quip, just said to integrate it into my Eleventh Step meditation practice. Sooner or later I wouldn’t need to keep asking him. I would know. His unexpected passing in 2011 sealed his silence on further enlightenment, but not on the wisdom of his retort from so long ago. As suggested, I gave this advice some thought. I listened at the meetings to “hear” him. But while the gift of sobriety did indeed change my life and gave me the beauty of days to experience, I am sure it would not have been mine had I continued to drink. My plan of what my sober life would be like must have been great comic relief for my Higher Power.
These things should not be happening to me, a sober man
As I continued to live life on life’s terms, I found myself confronted with issues, problems, and just plain old tough stuff. I was sure these things should not be happening to me, a sober man. These had to be exceptions, mistakes in God’s world that are not supposed to be there. Yet each one seemed to exacerbate the other and confound any perception of a solution. My hope was fading. The storm clouds were gathering and life was not looking pretty. In fact, it was getting pretty ugly. I thought of Owen’s advice: More will be revealed. So I asked what step applied, was searching and fearless about the moral inventory I took, and made my list. I admitted it readily to myself and to my Higher Power, but how could I to another person? I should not have been surprised, but I was, about how the answer to my silent, private question manifested itself.
Literally the very next day, an old-timer I had not seen in weeks showed up at my new Home Group for his first time there. He heard my self-pity clothed in justifiable anger and resentment before the meeting when he made the mistake of inquiring, “How are you?” After the meeting he volunteered that I really should consider doing a 4th Step on this and discussing it with my sponsor.
I proudly and a bit smugly pulled my notes from my wallet. I was way ahead of him. I had done so already. Smiling he asked when I was to do my Fifth Step. My fumbling response confirmed I had not decided on that yet. So when he accepted my request to be that other human being, I felt vindicated. But when deciding about when, he rebuffed my notion of “maybe sometime during one of the upcoming weekends.” How about now, before we each headed off to our respective jobs? Oh my! Gone was my veneer of rhetoric. The rubber was meeting the road right now, in this moment.
The admissions that followed were heartfelt and honest, albeit unexpected. As we parted company, I thanked my listener for his time, his ear, and his making exact the nature of my part in the drama. His were observations I had wanted to overlook completely or justify.
This time it was different
In the parking lot at work, as suggested, I reviewed what had just happened. It was then that more was to be revealed. Although I had done a Fourth Step many years before, this time it was different. As I reviewed what had preceded these recent admissions and the disclosure and discussion of them, I began to feel something different. Whether it was the nearness of my creator or not, I would be unable to verify with scientific precision. But it was real, it was there! Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly … Mine it seemed was of the slow variety, but after the work the materialization followed. Life’s difficulties may have remained, but I knew this day I was no longer dealing with them alone. From the power of this way of life, I had victory over them.