I may or may not go back to the 2nd meeting – it is huge, and so not my demographic, but, or rather and, I heard exactly what I needed hear, despite my initial judgments that the members were too young and too hip for me to learn anything. I’ve been using the Set-Aside Prayer (Let me set aside everything I think I know about the 12 Steps and my program so that I can have a new experience) so attempted to keep an open mind. What I heard was, in order to benefit from the program, I need to actually work the program, not just sit in the rooms. Bam! Someone shared about running on fumes, having moved to a city with few meetings, which caused me to inhale deeply with recognition. Bam! I am fortunate enough to live in an area with literally 100’s of choices per week, but have been operating as if I can only attend a specific two.
In a moment of clarity, I realized that I’ve been simply dialing it in. I've been half-assing my monthly Step group, picking at what's wrong instead of what's right with my home group, skipping my mid-week meeting - in essence, running on fumes, otherwise known as "resting on my laurels." Busted.
Do I think I’ll drink today? No. But, recovery is about so much more than not drinking. I crave emotional and spiritual growth, which isn’t going to just drop out of the sky while I'm watching TV. It’s up to me to, yes, do the work of on-going self-examination. To that end, I picked up a new (to me) book, The Alternative 12 Steps, by Martha Cleveland and Arlys G, not because I have a particular problem with the g-o-d word, but because I seek a new perspective and appreciate the descriptions of "spiritual resources," which are unique to each individual. The Steps aren't punishment, though that's what I once thought, but a tool to recognize and build on my strengths. (see the link to AA Agnostica for additional secular resources)
Complacency, as I’ve written before, is a sneaky devil, convincing me that I'm too tired, have too much to do, etc. to go to a meeting or work a step, blah blah blah. Complacency also uses my fears to further draw back. If my default is to isolate, those fears have nowhere to go, which increases my feelings of separateness. Through the magic of speaking out loud, I've identified the maladaptive whispers, replacing them with, "That meeting sounds interesting," "Tuesday works for me this week." Shake it up.
And so, I'm back on the beam. The whole gist of recovery is to become familiar with my patterns, and develop relationships with those people who can point out my blind spots. For me, getting off track starts with boredom, or agitation, the "is this all there is?" mind set. It takes me a while to realize that I'm out of whack, and more time to move from blaming outer circumstances to looking at where I'm off center. And then, the choice: how long am I willing to stay uncomfortable? When and how will I take action contrary to my spiritual lethargy? In the past few weeks, I've visited a couple of houses of worship, two different meetings, am reading two new recovery books, and have listened to great music in the parks with old friends - all part of the recovery deal.
How do you recognize when you're veering off track? Is there someone in your life who you can ask, if you're not sure? What helps you get back to serenity? And how, exactly, do we remain teachable?