Came to believe…

When I staggered into my first AA meeting in July of 1986 I didn’t know what exactly to expect. I had a few friends who’d managed to stay sober but knew nothing about what it took. Like many before and after me, I heard the word God in the reading of the steps  at that first meeting and immediately bristled. Why? I don’t know. I was not brought up with any religious background and really had no reason to be afraid of the word God, but, nonetheless, it bothered me. In fact it bugged me so much that I went back out and tried to control my drinking on my own for another three months after that initial meeting.

On sheer will power, I managed to string together a few days of sobriety but, inevitably I started up again. I quickly realized that my own will power was not enough for me to stay stopped. I had to find a power greater than myself. I found that in the second step of AA:

Step 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

The founders of AA understood the varied dynamic of people’s spiritual, religious, agnostic, and even atheistic leanings and address it in great length in the basic text of 12 step recovery, Alcoholics Anonymous, aka the “Big Book.”

In fact, they discovered that those who managed to stop and stay stopped had a common thread-spirituality. This was baffling to many in the medical community at the time.

As I mentioned in my  previous post, I had no problem with the first step when I finally had been beaten. I knew I was powerless over alcohol and that my life was unmanageable.

But, when it came time to work the second step, I struggled.  Even after reading “More about alcoholism” and “We agnostics” in the AA “Big Book,” I didn’t know if I could “get it” and worried I would drink again. These chapters address very real concerns for those struggling with a concept of a higher power. My sponsor at the time said that I didn’t have to fully explain it or even understand it. Rather, he asked me to address this short question from page 47:

“Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?”

When I was willing to believe, my life began to change.

At first my higher power was a doorknob-something to focus on besides the floor, when I sat in a meeting.

After a month or two, I began to feel better on the inside. The mental obsession to drink began to wane. Soon my eyes lifted up from my shoes or the doorknob and I began to witness the “lights go on” in other newcomers who came in after me. I saw them smile. I listened to their stories and those of others and identified with what they were going through. In the meetings, many AA’s talked about a “Higher Power” or spirituality as the key to their sobriety. I listened and began to believe that this “Higher Power” would work for me too.

As a reminder to the steady stream of newcomers in meetings, one old-timer used to say,”If the word God frightens you, a bottle of booze will scare you right back.” His statement always got a chuckle, but it was true. It took me awhile, and the word God scared me away at first, but I had nowhere else to go. I was willing to do whatever it took to stay sober, even if that meant developing a better understanding of the spiritual experience necessary to stay sober in AA.

Today, I honor my faith daily. I nurture it and maintain constant contact with my higher power whom I call God. It has become a regular part of who I am.

The benefits are clear:

Not only has the obsession to drink been removed, but when I maintain and grow my connection with God, my days are good. When I don’t intentionally practice a spiritual way of life, I drift along in self-will. I quickly become selfish, self-centered, and self-seeking and my days turn to shit in a heartbeat.

Getting sober is not an easy task. It takes work. You may think that after thirty years of sobriety it is automatic for me to be nice and “spiritual”. Hardly. I have days where I am a complete asshole. Fortunately, I am much quicker to recognize it and change my attitude and when I don’t, I have a wife who is not too shy to let me know.  Like anything worthwhile, I must practice spiritual living daily. When I do, I am filled with joy and gratitude and life doesn’t seem to be such a struggle. Today I choose to be happy, joyous and free.

For more on my personal journey, check out Beyond Recovery: A Journey of Grace, Love, and Forgiveness.

Peace.

Shawn

Today is a day I will remember forever. It’s Release Day for “Beyond Recovery”

Today is a day I will remember forever; 11-11-16. After 2 1/2 years writing, editing, agonizing, fighting off self-doubt and insecurity, and then asking for advice from my author wife, and other key friends, I have finally come to the finish line…Today marks the is the official publish date of my very first book, Beyond Recovery a Journey of Grace, Love and Forgiveness.

The outpouring of support from family and close friends has been tremendous. Many have already pre-ordered their copies-Thank you!

Despite all good intentions,  as the release date approached, I’ve had to distance myself from a sea of inner and public negativity, doubt and insecurity,  as powers of the universe  seemed to throw me curve balls as I neared the completion. Despite theses challenges,  I have  managed to lean on a solid group of friends to help get me back to center. In a nut shell, I found the grace, love and forgiveness that are a common thread in the tapestry of tales and experiences included in Beyond Recovery. I  was, once again, reminded that life is a dress rehearsal and about progress, not perfection.

There is so much in this book. It’s not just a memoir about a recovered alcoholic, its about things I have learned the hard way; life lessons if you will. My hope is that through some of the stories I share, may in some way, offer a modicum of hope for you or someone you love.

Writing a book about my sordid drunken past and my journey through recovery and then sharing it with the world is something that, as my good friend JB, said, “is a little ballsy.”

I agree. But I wouldn’t be here if not for courage. It took courage to be willing to say I had  problem with alcohol in the first place. It took even more courage to ask for help.

One thing I have learned over the years is that the sweetness of life happens when we take a chance on our selves and face our inner demons and move forward anyway.

I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, please leave a review on Amazon.

Today is a day to be grateful, thank you!

Here is where you can get it for now.

Kindle: www.amazon.com/dp/B01N3O30PH

 

 

 

 

 

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