Step 11: New Freedom and Happiness

by John W.

Having completely bought into the deal that I was powerless over alcohol and that the unmanageability of my life was a direct result. Once admitted, without any action on my part except going to meetings daily (sometimes more than once) I had managed to stop drinking. It was not a pretty time. With a few sober days strung together, I was able to find a sponsor. With my sponsor’s aid I worked the steps. I always knew I had not stayed stopped, or stopped in the first place, on my own. I always knew a higher power had helped me. I did not know how but I had a pretty good guess as to why. My Catholic upbringing helped me a lot there because I still believed in a loving, forgiving and merciful God (although for others with the same background, maybe not so much as I have heard). Once sober, time began to pass.

Caught in a big set of waves after a wipe out

Time has a wonderful way of passing in the A.A. program one day at a time. I had been warned my disease was not only cunning, baffling and powerful, it was also patient. After days had passed, becoming years, I was faced with a series of crises which seemed to pile up, one upon another in rapid succession. 

One time as a young teen out trying to body surf, I was caught in a big set of waves after a wipe out. Each time my head came above water, wham! There was another wave crashing down on me. The waves did not seem to want to stop and I did not know if I could keep afloat. I thought I was going to drown. I did not, but the hopelessness of the circumstances seemed almost too much—almost.

photo captions available upon request to thepoint@aasfmarin.org

My experience in the surf never left me. As new circumstances a lifetime later befell me, I almost felt un-equipped to confront them—almost. Unlike the surf, or those days getting sober, this time I had help. This time I had a Higher Power in my life. I was now able to recall the affirmative reply I had given to my sponsor when asked: Are you willing to go to any length? 

Now the rubber was really meeting the road. I was asked if I had meant what I had said those many years before when I wanted so much to just stay stopped. As suggested, I had sought to improve that conscious contact. But what would that mean, now when events were upon me and I needed it the most? As I was told would be the case, my Higher Power was there for me. I had read “There is One Who has all power” and was desired to “find Him now” but that had been to get sober. 

More doors started to open

Now I was confronted with life beyond sobriety. I thought of feelings abounding, solutions that seemed unconventional. If I did find Him, what would He do for me? That seemed like the wrong point of view. What would I do to enhance that discovery, that relationship? This seemed to be the question. As the effort to confront this question in another unconventional manner, through meditation, presented itself, I sensed more doors starting to open.

Hope in a strange way had taken on a new light. Surely I had hoped the crises I faced would, each in their own time, subside and work out in my favor. Now it seemed hope had become a goal to achieve with my Higher Power. Regardless of the outcome, I would imbue that relationship with a greater fervor, a more conscious sense of gratitude and hope. I would succeed in demonstrating that gratitude daily. One day at a time became the goal in a different way. 

I thought it meant I would be happy with a used car

To those who are painstaking comes the promise of a whole new attitude and outlook upon life. I thought that meant I would be happy with a used car or satisfied even if I had not gotten that well-deserved raise. I had not expected the new attitude would be the enhancement of my relationship with a Higher Power since I thought I already had a pretty good thing going. Yet I found the limits to that rapport were only in my head, only in my thinking. If I were only to further seek, I would surely find. I had but to push upon that door opened so long ago to the certainty. I did again, to a newer happiness. 

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