Alcoholism is an ugly disease that is wrapped around an amazing gift. We break our own morals, give up the things that are important to us, slam shut doors that open for us, let down the people who love us. These are just some of the ugly things we do when we are suffering from alcoholism.
“The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil.” (Big Book, page 82)
So many alcoholics like myself have felt the loneliness, the feeling of not belonging, feeling useless and full of fear long before we even picked up a drink.
“We were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn’t control our emotional natures, we were a prey to misery and depression, we couldn’t make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, we couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people.” (Big Book, page 52)
We can suffer horribly from alcoholism and addiction for many years. I knew that I needed help. Even though I felt that that the 12-Step movement wasn’t going to work for me because of the mention of God, I attended meetings anyway. I was an atheist with a firm belief that because I had never experienced God with my senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste or touch, He didn’t exist.
When I first began attending 12-Step meetings, I heard many things that made no sense to me. But the two things I heard that really made me angry, came from the people who told me not to quit five minutes before the miracle, and the people who announced themselves as “grateful” alcoholics.
I can now say that I’m a grateful recovered alcoholic who has experienced the miracle. When the desperation hit me that this was never going to get better the way I had been approaching it, the willingness came to be open-minded to the 12-Steps. The meeting was the box and I was now ready to see if there really was a gift inside. What happened to me when I had the smallest amount of willingness is that I began to see, hear, smell, feel, taste and touch God in people and things. My perception began to change.
“We have begun to develop this vital sixth sense.” (Big Book, page 85)
Recovery is so much more to me than just not drinking. I have developed a relationship with a God personal to me, and a relationship with the people around me. I no longer feel lonely, that I don’t belong or am useless. And the miracle those people were talking about? The problem of alcoholism has been removed! God has worked in me to do the humanly impossible.
“We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it.” (Big Book, page 85)
My alcoholism turned out to be the wrapping around the gift of sobriety that I could not unwrap myself. I needed the help of others who could lead me to the One who could unwrap it. I have discovered that the box was full of gifts I never imagined and that it is endless. It is easy to remain grateful when the gifts keep coming every day.
This holiday season, my hope is that if you have not yet discovered the true gift of sobriety, that this be your time to experience the miracle that is waiting for you.
-Bart Ross, Alumni Coordinator, Hanley Center at Origins
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