I just completed my annual 4th and 5th step. I’m lucky in a sense that I first got sober in spring. Spring cleaning in AA feels good,creates hope and as a life-long ‘avoider’ and procrastinator, it helps me to not let life build to the point of becoming an insurmountable mountain of lingering problems, most relatively small when they first began.
Addiction recovery is far more than the removal of drugs from an otherwise unchanged life. Recent definitions of recovery transcend radical changes in the person-drug relationship and encompass enhanced global health and social functioning.
For three decades now, I’ve studied the ability of ecosystems to respond to change, to ultimately adapt. I’ve never thought about resilience as part of recovery. Though I fancy myself keenly perceptive, sometimes I do ignore the obvious. For me to recover from alcohol dependency and the associated anxiety disorder and depression, I had to move past just surviving. So much of my life prior to becoming sober was getting through, surviving what often seemed a never-ending series of crises, many self-created. Not drinking alcohol until things got better felt like it worked. And then, I would plead and bargain with the universe, why, why, why is this happening to me.
A Secular Sobriety, authored by Dale K. is an invaluable tool for anyone who may be interested in a secular interpretation of the 164 pages of AA’s Big Book. Dale takes the reader through the first 164 pages, but rewritten as a secular version of the book. The book also contains personal stories from secular members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Today, we are featuring one of those personal stories: Elisabeth H.
When I first began to write and share poetry, now approximately 4,383, but who’s counting, I sought to describe what I saw and how I felt. I did not seek meaning, or at least that was my intent. But as sober days became sober months became sober years (paraphrased from AA’s Big Book), I began to need/desire meaning in what often felt painful, unfair, unexplainable, out of reach of cause and effect, or at least cause and effect that I could accept (in my universe everything does not happen for ‘a’ reason).
The day before I went to my first AA meeting, was almost my last. I was either going to kill myself or with any luck, not wake up. The day after, everything changed. I wanted to live. I wanted to live no matter what. Consequences of untreated alcoholism, acute anxiety and chronic depression were crashing around me and they echoed in my personal and professional life for the better part of three years. My recovery roller coaster rose and fell wildly. As I approach another anniversary and another reflection (4th step), I pause and I notice what was different about that next day.
To put it bluntly, I’ve been slowly dying over the past few years. It’s hard to determine exactly when I started dying, but the cold hard facts of my life changed about three years ago. It was Father’s Day, a particularly difficult day for me because I had lost my Daddy seven years earlier