We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough. He is like the farmer who came up out of his cyclone cellar to find his home ruined. To his wife, he remarked, “Don’t see anything the matter here, Ma. Ain’t it grand the wind stopped blowin’?” (Alcoholic’s Anonymous pg 82)
Step Twelve describes the need beyond abstinence of carrying the message to others and practicing what you learn in recovery in all areas in one’s life.
I am always intrigued by the idea that many have of wanting abstinence without having any other changes in their lives. Any who have heard me train have heard me say the words “If you come into to recovery thinking and acting one way and leave thinking and acting the same way, you are the same. There will be the same results in the end.”
The idea is very simple. Think of simple math:
What if I discover the number two is bad for me and I want the answer to be four which is apparently good for me, can I just change the answer?
Well, the fact is, I just did change the answer, but somehow it doesn’t really look or feel right. Because the fact the equation stayed the same means that the correct answer is still two. If I stop using and do not change any of the things that led up to my using, that is in fact a change. The problem is that the equation is still the same and the change will not look or feel right.
There are many changes and some differences in approach but the end result always has to be change and there has to be an absolute goal (in the case of the mathematical example it is four in terms of recovery see the Alcoholics Anonymous book pg 164 and the promises)
3+1=4 1+3=4 2+2=4 4+0=4 0+4=4 5-1=4 2×2=4 etc.
In the Alcoholics Anonymous 4th edition on page 567 Appendix II is found discussing Spiritual Experience (or spiritual awakening) and is described as something that comes to some as “sudden and spectacular upheavals” and to some “develop slowly over a period of time.” Throughout the book this “spiritual experience is spoken of as an absolute. This is a must have for a person of the hopeless type described in the book to recover.
On that page there are several words that help one see a “spiritual experience” of that sort in him or herself and in others: personality change, recovery, sudden and spectacular upheavals, sudden revolutionary changes, vast change in feeling and outlook, difference, profound alteration in his reaction to life, change.
These words all have on thing in common. They can all be used synonymously with the word change. A chief indicator of the type of “spiritual experience” described here is asking yourself how has the “spiritual experience” or “spiritual awakening” changed me.
As the holiday gatherings begin over the next few weeks, many of us have the challenge of going into familiar environments and gatherings as a changed person. The temptation for many is to try to be the same or to impress those we will be around.
The truth is that you may be more different than you have noticed and that is a good thing. Page 567 also states
“Quite often friends of the newcomer are aware of the difference long before he is himself.”
The part not mentioned is that because your change is not what everyone is used to it may be uncomfortable for everyone involved. This is also a normal part of the process of change. Others still will have to take some time to get used to the new you.
Take comfort in the fact that the change is a good thing and a good sign as far as your recovery and “spiritual experience.”
In the Bible story of Moses, when Moses encountered God in the form of a burning bush he came down the mountain and even members of his family knew he was different from a distance. The fact is that after his “spiritual experience” his life was never the same. His life was not perfect, but it was never the same and his relationships with his family were never the same.
However, his life was not only better, his life found an awesome purpose in helping others.