Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.
Principle 1: I realize I am not God. I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable.
I took the above step and principle from Celebrate Recovery since it allows for any habit as opposed to just mine. The notion that one must admit defeat before one can rise in triumph is not new. Many heroic stories follow the same notion where the lead character must hit bottom, before he or she is able to to start on a new path and slowly rise to a new life full of love, friendship and success. The movie I watched last night on Hallmark even followed this notion! A young woman had dreams of opening a business with her soon to be finance who was away for a period of time. Upon his return, he broke things off ending her dream of launching their business and leaving her futureless. She accepted defeat and continued working where she had always worked until she met someone who helped her realize she could start the business on her own via a chance to do work for the town’s most notable resident. And yes, in true Hallmark fashion she ended up with a successful career and a sweet, gorgeous mate to boot.
While life may not always resemble a Hallmark movie, it does parallel many of the themes. I guess we cannot make room for the new in our lives until we relinquish some of the old. I was lucky when I entered the rooms of AA. I already knew I was an alcoholic - I actually had zero doubts about that. I did not, however, see why it was an issue until I was penniless and almost dead. My drinking had taken its toll on my body and my career and I was unknowingly at a dangerous crossroad when my Higher Power stepped in. I knew that alcohol wasn’t working for me anymore and that in my condition, any drug would kill me. I also knew that I couldn’t keep going - my road had turned into a dead end with a brick wall that extended into the heavens. I knew my life was a wreck. I knew that my life was unmanageable. I knew that something had to change… and so I entered the rooms of AA …
Admitting defeat is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength. It’s important to know when you can handle a situation and it is equally important to know when you need to ask for help. We do it all the time in other areas of our lives so why not with our mental, emotional and spiritual well being? If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired - you only have one of two options: You can admit that your life has become unmanageable because of your drug or mental issue and accept that you have to change OR you can keep trodding down the road you are on knowing that nothing will ever change.
I admit that I am an alcoholic. I admit that I have amazing self control in almost every other area of my life, that I am intelligent, self-sufficient, resourceful and reliable - except when it comes to alcohol. I take one drink, I will eventually take a million and loose everything including my life. It was scary to admit this, but in admitting this truth I opened the door for a new path to unfold before me.
“I don’t drink these days. I am allergic to alcohol and narcotics. I break out in handcuffs.” - Robert Downey Jr.
“I realized that I only had two choices: I was either going to die or I was going to live, and which one did I want to do? And then I said those words, ‘I’ll get help,’ or, ‘I need help. I’ll get help.’ And my life turned around. Ridiculous for a human being to take 16 years to say, ‘I need help.’” - Sir Elton John
Happy New Year! Congratulations to everyone who made it through another year. Take a moment and pat yourself on the back for just being a living, breathing participant in this thing called life. Next, take a moment to write down some things you did right this year. Did any of your decisions pan out for the better? Did you learn anything from this past year? Did you grow on a personal or professional level? Are you the same you from January 1st of 2018? If you’ve changed, how so and in what areas? Did you change for the better or for the worse and why? Ouch! I know, but growth comes from seeing both the good and the ‘needs improvement’ in ourselves. Did you realize any internal or external goals from last year? If not, why not? Did your goals change? Did you change? Or Do you still have the same goals?
There are many sober people who are not fond of goal setting, I just don’t happen to be one of them. I think it is important to set goals for yourself so that you can make things happen in your life. The trick, of course, is to take those big lofty goals and break them down into small steps that can be easily accomplished over time… kinda like the twelve steps. The twelve steps as a whole seemed scary and insurmountable when we were new in sobriety, but most of us should have had a sponsor who broke each of the steps down into small, doable action steps that eventually led to achieving the whole. We also did not focus on everything we had to do for the rest of our lives; instead, we focused on the next action steps for that day or that week. We just kept breaking everything down until we got it into a size we could bite off and chew and we should be doing the same with the internal and external goals in our lives.
I can say that I did reach a couple of financial goals this year. (INSERT GIANT PAT ON BACK). I moved home with one goal in mind - to erase my debt, build up my credit score, buy a new MacBook and buy a new car and worry about the next steps afterwards. And, I did just that! I erased my debt (okay I have a wee little bit left that will be gone soon), but I did build up my credit score, buy a 2017 MackBook and I just bought a slick 2015 Hyundai Sonata that I absolutely love! I’m kinda battling the I feel like my car is too good for me syndrome, but I know I will push through it. Sometimes it takes a little time to get used to what you deserve.
As for 2019, I am clear on my internal goals: I want to live a service minded lifestyle. I don’t know about you, but I am one of those alcoholics/addicts that seem to think the rules apply to everyone else, but not to me! I do my work and I get it done and I meet deadlines, but I should be able to come and go as I please and should not have to partake in any extra activities even if “the team” is doing it. I am not the team - I am me. Ugh… I am so bad about pulling my own weight on someone else’s terms. I am all about pulling my own weight on my terms, but what does that get you in life? Not much. A guy in the rooms recently talked about how he has trouble doing anything anyone asks of him and it is also the reason he cannot seem to get through the steps and stay sober. His comment made me think about my own life and how AA is the only thing I have ever completed on someone else’s terms. I did what I was told and I got through the steps and I have stayed sober. This recent conversation is what led me to decide to make living a service minded life a priority for 2019. If I am trying to live in service to others then I am more apt to be helpful, instead of unintentionally hurtful; a part of the team, instead of recoiling to my corner; being used by God to impact the world around me, instead of being used by someone at my own soul’s expense.
In close relation to this goal is my priority for my program in 2019. In the same meeting we were asked by the Chair, “What do you want to do differently in your program from this past year?” My answer was clear - I want to do more service work. It has been over a year since I left Florida and thereby left my Celebrate Recovery leadership team position. I have been enjoying being fed by others and doing a bit of feeding myself in meetings, but I have not really been active in any service positions. In 2019 I am going to seek out service opportunities both in AA and in my local church and I am going to show up do the work. So far, I have signed up to Chair a local meeting for the month of January and I have signed up to bring communion to the homebound through a ministry in my church. I know that there are other service opportunities both in the local AA intergroup and in my church and I will be looking into those after I complete my chairing commitment for January.
Externally, I am unsure what 2019 will bring and what I want it to bring for that matter. I would like a job that is more in line with who I want to be and what I want my life to be like. I also know I feel called to complete a certificate program and I will be doing research on available programs this month.
Lastly, I believe everyone should have some fun stuff on their goals list. Whether it’s centered around a hobby, a pastime, or a heart’s desire. I have a list of some trips that I would like to take. Since I don’t get much vacation with my current job it will most likely have to be long weekends…. But I still want to take some time for me this year: A trip to see family in SC, a yoga/nature retreat, an excursion of some sort, and if my favorite band does any shows or camps in the US this year - I definitely want to go see them. I am going to start researching in February and see what I can make happen trip-wise for 2019.
Goals shouldn’t be these things we detest. They should be these pointers that help guide us on how to spend our time, energy and money so that we can achieve some of our wants, some of our dreams and some of our hearts desires. What about you? If you don’t know what you want - try answering the questions from the beginning of this post and see if it sparks anything. Seeing where you’ve come from and what you’ve come to can sometimes help you see where you might want to go next.
You can make a wish or you can make it happen - Unknown