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A Way of Living

AA literature tells me how fortunate I am to have had two lifestyles in one lifetime.

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AA literature tells me how fortunate I am to have had two lifestyles in one lifetime. How can I forget the lifestyle of active alcoholism - the despair, the degradation, being powerless over booze and all areas of my life? Not only my life but the lives of those near and dear who certainly didn’t deserve the hell I put them through.

The ‘coming to’ having done it again and wondering - Where have I been? Who have I been with? What happened when I only went for a couple of drams at 5pm on a Saturday after the football? What time is it now? What day is it? Where am I? And the dread of having to face the music - again. The fear, the loneliness, that feeling of uselessness and self-pity - this can’t go on but how can I stop it? I have tried everything I know to stop or control it but nothing works. What is going to become of me? Death would be a blessing but every plea to God to let me not open my eyes in the morning seems to fall on deaf ears and I am forced to face another day of terror, frustration, bewilderment and despair.

Then came the asylum where AA found me and I was told “Don’t pick up the first drink, stay out of wet places, keep sober company, attend meetings on a regular basis and then, when you get established in AA join a group and get a sponsor.” That kept me off the drink but I hadn’t a clue about sober living. After another rock bottom (without drinking) I had to ask people if they would teach me how to live a sober life - and that was when I was introduced to the Big Book and the 12 x 12 - not to be just read but books to be studied and lessons to be learnt.

Steps One, Two and Three gave me a foundation for sober living but then came the most difficult part of the Programme for me - honestly looking at myself, seeing the need for change and then through Steps Four to Nine setting about changing me. If I can give one piece of advice here it would be please don’t try this on your own – get help from an old timer to give you good counsel. My drinking life never got better doing things my way and neither did my early sober life because I still answered all the questions to suit me. Once I had gone through this, I had to find a way of maintaining this new lifestyle and that’s where Steps Ten, Eleven and Twelve came into play. Step Ten continued..., Step Eleven sought... and Step Twelve told me to carry this message, practise these Principles in all my affairs and also, that it’s a lifetime’s work One Day at a Time.

Traditions One and Two reminded me that I am no longer alone and that I am not the one running the show. Tradition Three helps me cultivate the desire for sobriety. Tradition Five reminds me why I had to go through what I went through so that I can give other alcoholics hope. The Promises state that “No matter how far down the scale we have gone we can see how our experience can benefit others” and that “We will not regret the past”. The remainder of the Traditions show me a way of ensuring AA will continue as it has done, reminding me that I am no longer the centre of the universe and if I run my life along the lines of the Steps and the Traditions, I can trudge the road to happy destiny.

Douglas
Inverness Steps and Traditions, Sunday