by Christine R
We sure do a lot of turning in this Program. Out of the 46 known instances for “turning” or “turn” in our literature, here are a few you might recognize: “We stood at the turning point.” “A great turning point in our lives came when we sought for humility.” “Turning our will over to a Higher Power.” With this dizzying array of turning going on I decided, in turn, to look up “turning point” in the Cambridge Dictionary which reads: “the time when a situation starts to change in an important, especially positive, way.”
One “important and especially positive way” for turning our lives around comes when we realize we don’t need to wait until Friday, New Year’s or next week to begin that turn. The big journey begins with small steps that include lots of turns along the way. The turning point, so often discussed in our meetings, can be any time—day or night.
We don’t need to wait until morning. At any second, we can start to turn our lives around. As an alcoholic, the time to stop drinking is “later.” “Tomorrow.” “Next week.” As Mark Twain so aptly put it. “I know how to quit drinking. I’ve done it a thousand times!”
My first turning point happened at the Cabin—a 7 a.m. meeting in Mill Valley—shivering and sick, sitting on a hard, wooden bench. Across from me a woman announced she had a year of sobriety. A year of sobriety!! What a shock! I could not believe it! After picking my jaw up from the floor, came my tear-filled share, “I cannot imagine being sober for a whole year much less these 3 days.” Through holidays, birthdays, heartaches and triumphs, beyond my comprehension was a full year without drinking. After the meeting, the woman crossed the floor saying, “I’m finishing up my 12th Step. I’m looking for someone to sponsor and you’re it.”
Her demonstration of how it works was a big turning point in my sobriety. A real-life example of someone turning across the floor, with love unconditional, to help bring my life back. A beginning.
Beginnings and endings are part of the human experience. Between each beginning and ending is the space we call “The Now.” Each precious now is an opportunity to turn and listen to our Higher Self. More often than not, my turning points involve gratitude. Gratitude to be granted a way up and out. Not just “out.” But “Up and Out.” Turning upward to be reminded of the spacious presence of my Higher Power.
A new day, a new turning point, is here and now. Through the fog of alcohol, I couldn’t see a new day dawning right in front me. Today, as my turning points arise (and they do), I seek a time for pause to ask my Higher Power for “protection and care” to persevere and continue. Even if it’s a short, “God help me!” And do so, “with complete abandon… and let go absolutely.”
The cabin meetings are located across from the Fernwood Cemetery. Recovery is on one side of the street. Death on the other. Illumined like a lantern in the early dawn, you see the cabin with bright windows, porch and doorways. On the other side, the darkened cemetery.
It’s the same for us. With alcoholism, you either show up early and turn into the cabin meeting. Or you turn and head for the cemetery. Over the last four months, three members died of this disease. They thought they had “nowhere else to turn.” Their memorials were heard at Fernwood.
Sometimes the turning points are just that stark. And just that simple. Only the alcoholic is silly enough to sit in the middle of the road and think about it. For us, there is no middle of the road solution. Sit long enough, you’ll get run over anyway. That’s when all the turning stops.