Almost 5 years since I took my last drink, I continue to work a 12 Step program.
Talking to God and communicating with my sponsor are priorities comparable to eating and breathing.
Some people seem to be under the impression that since I haven’t had a drink in a good bit that I’ve graduated.
Meeting attendance aside, I continue to:
- Take inventory
- Make amends and clean up the past
- Sponsor other men
- Pursue the next spiritual experience
A 12 Step Program is not a checklist.
I will never be done.
Why It’s Counterintuitive (Or Is It?)
Considering that I’ve been sober for a bit, It would seem that kicking back and enjoying the freedom that has been granted me should be the order of the day, right? Relax and enjoy?
That line of thinking is a matchstick, ready to set fire to all that’s good in my life.
Working a 12 Step program is my lifeline.
It didn’t just get me sober and launch me towards a new way of life.
It is the new way of life for me.
There are 12 reasons, and I’d like to share the first several with you today.
1. Once an Alcoholic, Always an Alcoholic
I must stay completely free from booze.
Physiologically, I will always have an abnormal reaction to alcohol (often referred to in layman’s terms as an allergy).
If I start drinking, everything else will cease to matter, starting a spiral into emotional hell, mental anguish, and severe consequences.
There is no cure for that phenomenon.
2. God Is Constant
I constantly experience the reality that I can only describe as the presence of God in my life.
1780 days ago, I was effectively a cripple told to “pick up my mat and walk,” and I did.
The catch is, however, that I did so by relying on a power not my own, one that I cannot begin to fully comprehend.
I can only wrap my very limited human mind around it as “God.”
But, why does this matter today? I haven’t had a drink in nearly 5 years…
If God has always been there, which I believe the fact that I didn’t die indicates, then He is still there today.
3. A Contract Is a Contract
I was faced with Step 3 while still shaking from my last drink.
Step 3 defines our working arrangement as 24-hour contract. I cut a deal with God each and every day to resign as the General Manager of my own affairs.
I had a choice: Keep doing life my way, or do it God’s way.
I chose to step out on faith, and He (as I understand Him) delivered in ways I never believed possible.
I haven’t taken a drink since the first day I cut that deal, and life continues to get better, albeit not always on my preferred timeline.
God’s part of the bargain is to provide for my needs… He has more than held up His end.
My job is to prioritize serving others and to keep close to Him as best I can.
What makes today any different?
Why would I go back out on my own faulty thinking and disastrously limited reasoning when something greater than I am is clearly looking out for me?
That would be stupid.
Why would I abandon something that clearly works?
I cut that deal through prayer and showed up for duty this morning, and I plan on doing it again tomorrow because the record shows that my odds of staying alive and being successful as a human endeavor are much higher when He drives.
4. Dealing in Truth and Fact
Upon arriving at Step 4, my sponsor told me clearly:
“If you can’t get honest with a pencil and piece of paper, you’re really in a lot of trouble.”
In Step 4, I learned how to:
- Be honest
- Boil things down to simplest terms
- See myself as I really am, not an edited highlight reel of my best self
Some truths that hit me right in the face:
- That I had long considered myself the victim, not the problem
- That I WAS THE PROBLEM
- That resentment ruled my life
- That fear lead to futility
- That selfishness caused me to harm others
What I saw was not who I wanted to be.
In a victim’s mindset, I stood no chance of staying sober or living much longer.
That means that, still today, I cannot stop looking inward for the truth about my character.
I choose to see the reality of my situation, on good days and bad.
Because I continue to work a 12-Step Program, I don’t live as a victim, but as a child of God — Bill W. reached that conclusion, too.
5. Honesty Means Freedom
Some famous people have claimed, “The truth will set you free.”
Truth and honesty were, in fact, my tickets to freedom.
In Step 5, I dug up the haunted boneyard that was my past, and admitted to causing the dumpster fire that was my present life.
By being entirely honest with my sponsor and God about these things, and being open-minded to the truths that were pointed out about my thinking and behavior, I was relieved of a choking straight-jacket that I’d unknowingly been wearing for decades.
I want freedom of the heart, the mind, and the spirit for the remainder of my days.
I never want to go back to the wasteland of fear, shame, and guilt.
I will continue to open myself to God and my sponsor so that I may remain free.
By continuing to actively work a 12-Step Program, I never have to be bound up by my own thoughts, secrets, or delusions ever again.
Coming Soon: Part II
The first 5 reasons, like the first 5 Steps, are about getting down to the truth.
The next 7 reasons are coming in the next edition.
I no longer drink, and life is amazing today.
However, without this program, that would not be the case.
If you’re sick of struggling with drugs or alcohol and would like to learn more about making some serious changes, click to contact us.
The experts at Solutions of North Texas are standing by to help in whatever way we can.
We’ve been where you’re at, and we can show you a better way.
David S. is an alumnus of the SONTX Residential Program and served as a house manager. He is celebrating sobriety as a up-and-coming writer in Dallas.