The Incredible Lightness of Being Sober

by Carla H.

Actually many weights have been lifted from me over time. Done mysteriously by my higher power, often in the guise of my sponsor, a co-worker, a parent, a sibling, a sponsee, a friend—even an enemy has lifted weight from my shoulders. 

The first time I felt lighter was at my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous in Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The meeting opened my eyes to the humor of sober alcoholics, the fact that everyone there was working on themselves, and there wasn’t shame or guilt in the air. 

The meeting opened my eyes to the humor of sober alcoholics

A second weight was lifted when I surrendered to the fact that I was powerless over alcohol. It happened in my therapist’s space in New York in 1981. That’s where I took the First Step the first time. Flash forward 30 years and another great weight was lifted when I said yes to my first sponsor. I was so fearful of life (and death) that I was willing to work with a sponsor for the first time in my decades of sobriety. I was terrified of people, places, and things as well as afraid I might relapse after 30 years. 

Great weights have been lifted with every step I’ve worked. At the Second Step, I wrote a letter to my four-year-old self, giving her one thing she didn’t have then. The comfort, safety, relaxation, lightness and fearlessness I included my letter to her are the things that make up my higher power today.

photo credits available upon request to thepoint@aasfmarin.org

When I let a higher power take the wheel in the Third Step, the great weight of figuring life out was lifted. I am responsible for taking action, doing the footwork, but my higher power steers. In the Fourth Step, I felt very heavy but it was all in my mind. And in the Fifth Step, the heaviness disappeared. Sharing it all with my sponsor made everything lift. I got many new perspectives on my skewed views of people, places and things and began learning how to let them go, set boundaries and use the skills and tools that my sponsor was giving me.

The Sixth Step was like taking a breather from all the spiritual and emotional exercise. And even at the Seventh Step I felt lighter, because memorizing the Seventh Step prayer was so much easier than the Third Step prayer. I let my higher power (HP) take the wheel again. That’s who/what lifts my character defects. I do the footwork, my HP does the heavy lifting.

I felt like I’d lost 50 pounds of solid rock I didn’t know I was carrying

I must admit, making a list of all the people I’d harmed felt heavy. But that was just the fear talking. Everyone has been hurt by someone and I’m a worker among workers in that arena, too. The Ninth Step relieved the greatest weight from my shoulders. It started immediately after my first in-person amends and continued for several years of living amends when, after four years of stalling, I finally made my financial amends to a former employer (who suggested I donate the money to charity). I felt like I’d lost 50 pounds of solid rock I didn’t know I was carrying. Working the Tenth Step allows me to keep the weight off. I work it daily.

The Eleventh Steep keeps me in fit spiritual condition. I meditate several times a week and I pray every day to help guard against the weight of irritation, impatience, superiority and pride. The Twelfth Step keeps me light with simplicity: my only job in life is to be of service. 

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