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Going To Any Lengths

Audio Version

So much about my recovery is linked to honesty. If acceptance is the key, then maybe honesty was the keyhole - the door.  After all, recovery and healing cannot begin without honesty can they?

Until I was ready to come out of denial about my drinking (no, denial is not a river in Egypt) I had no chance of staying sober. It was one thing to be desperate and frightened enough to want to stop but, as I discovered many times, it was quite another to stay sober. In the early days at meetings, I heard the acronym HOW - how to stay sober: by being honest, open-minded and willing. In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, p568 it states ‘We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But they are indispensable.’

There are several helpful readings in Daily Reflections too. On May 4th the title is ‘Entirely Honest’. Towards the end of the text, after talking about being entirely honest about our story with someone else, it assures us that ‘This sharing helps me to learn honesty in all my dealings and to know that God's plan for me comes true through honest openness and willingness.’

In the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions p24 we are asked ‘Who wishes to be rigorously honest and tolerant? Who wants to confess his faults to another and make restitution for harm done? Who cares about a Higher Power, let alone meditation and prayer? Who wants to sacrifice time and energy in trying to carry AA's message to the next sufferer? No, the average alcoholic, self-centred in the extreme, doesn't care for this prospect - unless he has to do these things in order to stay alive himself.’

This passage brought up a lot for me when I first came in and it brings a lot up now. When I first read this, I couldn't have agreed more. What a task to take on - quite unmanageable. Flipping heck! Bad enough trying to stay sober, read all the stuff members had suggested, try and impress the family with my efforts and get to meetings without having to take on all that as well. But in time, as the fog cleared, clarity was restored and I became willing to go to any lengths to keep this sobriety I'd been gifted.

More recently, these thoughts come up for me - that there can be a somewhat negative, 'perpetrator' slant to much of AA's literature, making it very clear that we are bad, selfish, self-centred and dishonest people – ‘self-centred in the extreme’ and nothing more. And of course I was no exception. However, it has served me well over the years to be very honest about how I ended up using such negative coping strategies/responses to life: deceit, lies, manipulation, cunning and deviousness. I don't need to go into the reasons here - nor do they justify my past behaviours - but they have helped me to understand and accept myself. This process, too, has been a form of honesty which came about through Steps Four and Five and these behaviours are being regularly addressed with Steps Six and Seven. I can no longer excuse my use of these weapons as the Programme of AA has given me a comprehensive and user-friendly set of tools to use instead.

Thank God (literally) for the Programme. After all - that's what the quote above is really all about isn't it - the working of the 12 Step Programme?

Caroline G