As I reflected coming to the close of another sober calendar year, moving into the new, I found myself assessing my ups, downs, stagnations and progressions. I’ve seen myself grow through it all. I often find myself asking, how am I able to do this? How am I able to grow through the trials and tribulations of everyday life? Through the Grace of my Loving Higher Power (Spiritual Principles, The Guidance of You Folks in Recovery, and The 12-Steps), I’ve been granted the ability to practice the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous through every situation, whether “fair” or “foul”, as I seem to see them through the lens of my self-willed driven human eyes.
I can recall that when I was first exposed to AA and NA after completing treatment in 2002, relapse became a regular occurrence for me for the next five years. I would go for periods of clean time, no single period longer than nine months. I apparently did not yet possess what it took to fully concede to my innermost self that I lacked the Power to do or think anything else other than use, and continue to use once I had the first drink or drug. Gracefully, I am one of the fortunate ones that made it back.
I’ve learned of some of the most common reasons that could generate a relapse; stress, triggers, high expectations of others, self-pity, glamorizing active days, physical pain, overconfidence, a lack of surrender…the list goes on and on. I feel that none of these are any stronger than the other, so I guard against as much as my ability will allow me. My job has been to practice Mindfulness and Mindfulness activities (like meditation) that affords me a major tool of recovery: Self-Awareness. This tool is very critical for me in avoiding or minimizing triggers, stress, and a lot of the components that can lead to relapse.
Abstinence alone is not sufficient for me. I need contentment, calm in spite of conflict or chaos, and Love and Tolerance, particularly for those who I don’t “feel” like giving it to. I sometimes want to confuse abstinence with recovery. But simple abstinence is not enough for me. My desire is to keep growing, and that means doing the Actions that guard against relapse.
In early recovery, I followed the Guidance of my sponsor by acting my way into a new thinking. Contrastingly, I am more than confident that if I attempted, yet another time, to think my way into a new acting, I most likely would be dead today. By following that Guidance, not only did I get a healthier and fulfilling lifestyle, I inherited a spiritual shift at my core. I learned to Give Time, Time. I learned to practice new actions, repetition – to commit myself to the Principles of recovery on my daily reprieves. I attend meetings, I’m always open to learning new coping skills and I remain vigilant because I’m not cured.
Today, I have the opportunity to Pause, Breathe, Accept the Moment, Reflect, Embrace Hope, Share, and/or put my thoughts on paper. Today, and again, only through the Grace of my Loving Higher Power, I’ve been able to keep the door of relapse shut for over the last twelve years. I am extremely grateful. Thank you to all 12-Steppers worldwide! A Magnificent Recovery and Love of Life in 2020 and beyond to All!