By Chris Freeman
In my previous story, Breaking The Barriers To Recovery By Letting Go Of Old Ideas. I spoke of the letting go process, the letting go of an old idea that seemingly forever held me in its grip. It was always with me, even during the many times that I had put down the drink and drugs. I was able to stop, put down the drink, lay aside the drugs and make another attempt at “staying clean and sober’, only to have my old ideas creep back into my persona.This incessant idea was the idea that I could stop using and drinking – permanently. The Big Book gives all an ominous warning about such an idea.
“If we plan to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol.” BB More About Alcoholism p.33
This short sentence says quite a bit –
“If we plan to stop drinking” – this is referring to stopping drinking for good and all. Stopping drinking and drugging altogether, never ever lifting a drink to my lips, never again sticking a needle into my skin. To stop and stayed stopped, forever.
Now, this is where I may stir up some controversy and possibly some contentious resentment.
It does not say, “If we are planning to stay sober.”
Just a heads up to all the well-intentioned folks that for years and years had been telling me to,
“Just don’t drink or drug no matter what”, or “Stay sober one day at a time”
As well as my favorite. “Fake it till you make it.”
I never could quite understand that last one. The same people saying fake it until you make were also the ones that would pontificate, “It’s an honest program”. Then ask me to fake it. Sounds a bit dishonest to try fake something, especially when my life is on the line.
Well to all those great people, who I am sure had the best of intentions, I say, please stop saying those things. When our book was published, they defined the alcoholic as a person who had the total inability to “Stay sober no matter what”. I read and study the book every day and I still can’t find anywhere where it instructs us to – “Stay sober one day at a time”.
And for all the men and women, guys and gals, like myself who have struggled over the years trying to stay clean and sober, only to drink and use again as I did, I say –
You might be the same as I was. I held on to some old ideas and they nearly killed me. I proved the book to be true when it states that alcoholism had been baffling me.
“This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it – the utter inability to leave it alone no matter how great the necessity or wish.”
If it seems that I have spoken of this specific topic over the last few stories I have written you would be correct in thinking so. This is one point that I wish to get across. The definition of powerless was once explained to me from my old sponsor.
He said this –
“Chris, the powerlessness of you alcoholism is not what is happening to you after you take a drink, it is what is happening to you before you drink when you are sober.”
He asked me to read the second step, carefully.
“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”
Then came the questions, the first was basic –
Him – ‘Chris, it says “Came to believe”, what’s that mean to you?’
Me – “In God”
Him – “We will see about that”
Me – “OK”
Him – “Have you tried to stop and stay stopped?”
Me – “Yes”
Him – “We will see about that one too.”
Me – “OK”, I said again
Him – “Or have you just been trying to do the impossible and stay sober?
Me – “Yes” as my head dropped.
He then opened the book to page 34. As he read he took his finger and ran it along the words on the page. He looked into my eyes and said – “Listen carefully to this Chris, your life may depend on you understanding this new idea.”
“For those who are unable to drink moderately the question is how to stop altogether. We are assuming of course that the reader desire to stop”.
More questions to answer,
Him – “Do you have a desire to stop drinking altogether, for good and all?”
Me – “Yes”.
Him – “Chris, have you tried to stop and stay stopped altogether?”
Me – “No”, I muttered
Him – “What have you been doing, over and over again?”
Me – “I been trying into stay sober.”
Him – “Right, that’s correct.”
Him – “What happens to you after you get sober and try to stay sober?
Me – “I drink again”.
Him – “Bingo. Congratulations Chris. There is great hope for you, we have an answer for that”.
We both read some more from the book –
“Whether such a person can quit upon a nonspiritual basis depends upon the extent to which he has already lost the power to choose whether he will drink or not.”
He then asked me this –
Him – Chris, you have been trying to stay sober, one day at time, for the last 31 years but you would always take another drink. Right?
Me – “Right.”
Him – “Do you think that’s a little crazy? Insane?
Me – “Yes”.
Him – “Do you believe yourself alcoholic or not?”
Me – “Absolutely”.
Him – Do you know, that no matter how hard you try, no matter what the consequence, no matter how much you want to, you don’t have the Power to leave it alone?”
Me – “Yes”
Him – Chris, what is the first part of the second step?”
Me – “Come to believe”
Him – “And the next part?”
Me – “That a Power could restore me to sanity”
Him – “Do you know what that Power is?”
Me –“No, I don’t”
He then, with the most caring voice with tears in his eyes, looking at me, he turned the pages of the book to page 45 and then read out loud,
“Well that’s exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem.
So here is the old idea that my sponsor had just smashed. I thought for years that the book was about me staying sober, but as it states on page 45, the books main object is to enable me to find a Power that will solve my problem. WOW.
He then said they most amazing thing. I will never forget. He said –
“Chris, if there is a Power that will solve your problem of not being able to stay sober, wouldn’t you want to know what that Power is and how to find it.”
“Of course I would” I replied. –
In my next story I will describe what my sponsor then instructed me to do.
If when your reading my stories you find yourself questioning or doubting what it is that I am saying, please grab you book and read it as I have. Study it as if your very life is dependent on it. If you don’t understand or have difficulty on what I am talking about, please reach out to someone like myself that is willing to sit down with you and show you what it is that solved our problem.
Until we meet again, your friend, Chris Freeman