by John W
No stranger to the inside of a church, I had been an altar server in third grade. I learned my Latin well enough to handle it. My notion of spirituality was like nothing from my past. When I read “The Doctor’s Opinion” in the Big Book I was drinking daily. Hitting bottom was imminent. Warnings had echoed in my mind for months and my only spirituality was a game of shadows. I stalked that deadly first drink during waking hours, then consumed until blackout. As with Sisyphus and his rock, I woke each day to have the cycle begin again.
A game of shadows
I had missed the doctor opinion’s discovery. Mine was not simply a lack of mental control. Survival required essential psychic change. In my state, it was naturally lost on me that any hope of re-creating my life must be grounded in a power greater than myself. A befuddled sailor, alone in the South Pacific on a dingy with only oars, had a better chance of navigating through the Golden Gate than I on my Titanic. My waking hours were solitary stupors. On the outside, I was a happily-married father of three who paid bills and ran a successful business. I fancied myself a pillar of the community. But on the inside, that spirit which had once burned so bright was dying. There seemed to be nothing I could do. If I gave it any thought, it was: This is the way it is. Those Four Horsemen the Big Book describes were my posse. Together we were chasing death and gaining, one drink at a time.
Whether it was a great universal spirit or the group itself did not seem to matter
The seed of willingness took root in me after I began attending daily A.A. meetings. Lack of power was my dilemma. I still could not manage a day without a drink. Others stayed sober not just for a day, a couple of weeks or a month. Some had been abstinent for years. Unbelievable.
It became obvious to me they had not gotten there alone. Each described in their own terms how they found a Higher Power to help say “no” to the first drink. Whether that was a presence I had found in my church, one some of them saw in theirs, a great universal spirit, or the group itself did not seem to matter. If it was something greater than they were, it worked. They talked about how they were not alone anymore. This power became their defense against the first drink. This was an attractive proposition.
After months in the meeting rigors, my miracle of sobriety hit. I grabbed it like a line thrown to a drowning man. Here was the sunlight of the spirit I had heard described, but had never known. I now call it a spiritual awakening. Loneliness no longer dominates my psyche. I know I am not alone. I have an alternative that works.
In this presence there is a peace, a serenity I had not known before. I need only seek it out and embrace it. This task has become as easy as taking a breath in a healthy moment. Others guided me by telling stories about the certainty of this presence. I also rely on it in times of trouble. This power greater than me has literally never failed me. Spirituality in sobriety means I am no longer alone in a hostile world. A loving higher power watches over me, cares for me and cares for those around me. This is spirituality in real time, a whole new attitude and outlook upon life. With this fulfilled promise, I am each day a grateful alcoholic.
Once more. The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink… His defense must come from a Higher Power (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 43).