Once Upon a Lifetime or Two Ago

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My journey to light began in the dark. Along the way, I learned much about myself. In the October 21 reading in Beyond Belief Agnostic Musings for Twelve Step Life, Joe C. writes “…In recovery, we find that the results of our efforts are quite different from anything we imagined-sometimes greater than expected …”.

In my struggle to find sobriety in AA, I unexpectedly became Buddhist by doing the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I initially intended to use a Buddhist approach to sobriety within the fellowship of AA. In my early days of recovery, I was largely unaware of secular approaches and there were no secular meetings available. Ultimately I found a way to integrate the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold path, with the mentoring of a sponsor, a former priest!

Rather than knowing about Buddhism, I began to live by an Eight-fold path and accept the Four Noble Truths. Kevin Griffin’s One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the 12 Steps became a watershed for me. As an atheist agnostic, I came to have faith that I wasn’t seeking. I have faith in my own capacity and I have faith in my connections with people and nature as a source of healing and hope.

Some might wish to substitute confidence for faith, I chose to for a time, but today my awareness suggests that it runs deeper, becoming a belief that I practice. Recently, in several meetings, traditional and secular, shame has been a frequent topic. For years, before and after getting sober, shame hindered me from loving deeply and feeling worthy of love. Though I still revisit regrets, I no longer feel shame (or at least not for long). Today, my relationships, once I thought beyond repair, are fuller, richer, more beautiful than any story I could have written before. I found hope in the darkness that was my bottom. The worst day of my life became the soil for the seeds of the best days of my life.

Once Upon a Lifetime or Two Ago

Once upon a time a lifetime or two ago it seems
I went a spiraling down down and down
Arms wildly flailing windmilling and falling I did go
Unable to slow my descent to break my fall
No matter how desperate I became nor hard I tried
Little did I know then that there at the bottom of that
Ever so dark abyss was the doorway to my way back home

About the Author

Robert B. is a sober alcoholic in Madison, WI participating in AA and AlAnon at Fitchburg Serenity Club. He has been sober since April 21, 2007. He also began writing and sharing poetry on Facebook during his first year sober as part of his recovery from alcohol dependency, acute anxiety, and chronic depression. He has found that creativity expressed primarily through writing poetry and playing various stringed instruments helped him heal and thrive.