Greetings, 12 Step Warriors!
It’s Reunion Month, and Origins’ campuses are already buzzing with the electrifying effect of recovery. Those of us on the firing line are overwhelmingly grateful that we are able to set aside this special time to honor our former clients’ commitment to love, service and spiritual truth. Undoubtedly, the knowledge and experience carried into the community by our alum reaches far beyond Origins’ property. Whether you will be joining us at our flagship location on South Padre Island, or in West Palm Beach for Hanley Center’s thirty year anniversary, please know that we are absolutely delighted to welcome you home!
The offerings for this year’s Alumni Reunions include raffles on both campuses. Among items for the raffle are a few of Myers Raymer’s hand-bound Big Books. (If you have been coveting these beauties, come prepared with a competitive edge.) Proceeds from both raffles will go directly back to alumni gatherings around the country. We have some exciting events in mind for 2016, so keep your eyes peeled and ears opened as we begin to release plans over the next few months.
I know that I echo the thoughts of our entire organization when I say that we are continually renewed by the stories of grace and power that our alum so freely share. It is my belief that the spiritual work done at Origins improves not only the lives of our alum, but the lives of countless others. As a staff member, it is an overwhelming experience to watch our alum recover, and even more humbling to know that they go on to help still others that we will never even meet. To say that I will be excited as I watch our alum pick up medallions this year would be a gross understatement.
“We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”
Corporate Director of Alumni Services, Origins Behavioral HealthCare
Howdy y’all! Greetings from Texas!
Not even a hint of Fall here in the Hot Lands, but at least the calendar says it will get cool – someday. This morning, trying to avoid some outside projects that meant more sweating, I got to rooting around some old recovery sites and came on some bookmarked stuff on the late Barefoot Bob Hardison’s website, http://www.barefootsworld.net/aahistory.html. This is a great history site which has other things of interest, including an account of his trip around the world in a very small sailboat… (Another story for another time.)
Over the years, I have grown sort of “hypersensitive” to things that other folks call coincidences. I often see them as just pure and simple guidance from God. (The last piece I wrote was about how fortunate we all were that it was Dr. Carl Jung and not Dr. Sigmund Freud that Rowland Hazard had seen. God was definitely all over that one!)
Anyway, my wife, Londa, had pointed out a piece where Bill Wilson was trying to explain his “barn burning” spiritual experience in a letter he wrote. What struck me was not his description of the experience itself ,but how quickly Bill realized how fortunate he was that Dr. Silkworth was his attending physician and not someone else.
“Dr. Silkworth, a medical saint if ever there was one, came in to hear my trembling account of this phenomenon. After questioning me carefully, he assured me that I was not mad and that perhaps I had undergone a psychic experience which might solve my problem. Skeptical man of science though he then was, this was most kind and astute. If he had of said, “hallucination,” I might now be dead. To him I shall ever be eternally grateful.”
It took an amazing man of courage for this doctor to lean into his own lack of understanding of things spiritual and just admit that whatever had happened, it was perhaps profound enough to bring about the change that Bill so desperately needed. God brought a man of courage and humility to stand before Bill at just the right moment in time.
Now, if I can just figure out God’s wisdom in a summer that lasts this long…
I have a problem with the idea that relapse has to be a part of your story. This belief is especially difficult for young people. It is for many, but recovery does not to look like that. When I got sober, I was a twenty year old girl, who had been killing herself for years and went to treatment because she had nowhere else to go. I did not go to treatment because I wanted to find God or recreate my life, I can assure you that. To be perfectly honest, I did not even intend on getting sober. I knew that my life was unbearable, but I had pretty much come to accept this as normal. After I arrived in treatment, something very divine happened, and I ended up in a place filled with people who had never met me, but who knew me.
“That the man who is making the approach has had the same difficulty, that he obviously knows what he is talking about, that his whole deportment shouts at the new prospect that he is a man with the real answer, that he has no attitude of Holier Than Thou, nothing whatever except the sincere desire to be helpful; that there are no fees to pay, no axes to grind, no people to please, no lectures to be endured – these are the conditions we have found most effective. After such an approach many take up their beds and walk again.” —Big Book pg.18
“He had come to pass his experience along to me – if I cared to have it. I was shocked, but interested. Certainly I was interested. I had to be, for I was hopeless.” —Big Book pg. 10
The only thing that was expected of me was to be hopeless and willing to try something differently. I was approached in a way so that I could relate, and because of that was able to get connected to something that absolutely revolutionized my life!
“It may seem incredible that these men are to become happy, respected, and useful once more. How can they rise out of such misery, bad repute and hopelessness? The practical answer is that since these things have happened among us, they can happen with you. Should you wish them above all else, and be willing to make use of or experience, we are sure they will come. The age of miracles is still with us. Our own recovery proves that!” BB pg. 153
So let’s just be very clear: No one is too young, too old, too experienced, too smart, too uneducated, or too unique to get this.
“We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of the spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men.” —Big Book pg. 46
In the process of getting sober, I have overcome some very delusional thoughts. One which stuck with me early in my recovery was the thought that I could drink again when I was fifty. Not sure why I picked fifty, but I suppose I imagined that being sober for twenty one years would be enough.
Getting sober in my twenties, I always felt like I could drink when I got older. Counselors and 12 Steppers could talk to me all day about the progression of alcoholism, but I didn’t want to hear it. I had experienced the progression first hand and it didn’t matter. In my insanity, I figured that since I got sober young, I could drink when I was old. That’s the simple delusional thought. No scientific backing, no logic, just pure disease.
So what changed for me? Well, I could tell you that I heard new things and that people shared their experiences. This is true, but it didn’t change the way I thought. No person could change my thinking. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I know this to be true now. I can’t tell you the exact day that I realized that I could never drink safely again. I really don’t know when that truly sunk in. What I do know is that I did the work. I had the reservation and my sponsor knew. We did the work together and eventually my Higher Power smashed that delusional thought, along with many others.
I no longer believe that I can drink again—and I no longer believe that fifty is old. What I do believe is that my connection with my Higher Power is the most important thing in my life today. Without it I will begin to slip back into that delusional way of thinking and before you know it, the carpet slippers will be out.
Tradition Twelve states that, “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”
There are some alcoholics that can tend to complicate this tradition when it comes to personal anonymity. (Imagine that!) Let’s not be so anonymous that we have lose sight of our Twelfth Step: “…and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
Back in 2005, I chose to engage in a new way of living that was based on honesty, open-minded and willingness. None of which I had before. Through the working of the 12 Steps, I was able to incorporate these traits into my life. I am not the man I was 10 years ago. I have a God and the 12 Step program to which I give all the credit of this miraculous transformation.
This is who I am today, and to hide or minimize any part of that wouldn’t be honest. My complete openness has allowed me countless opportunities to do God’s work and help others, which is definitely the highlight of my life.
My choice is… to be.
What is yours?
A very grateful alcoholic,