Sobriety: A New Way of Living

 Sobriety:  A New Way of Living

Like this rainbow, the source of help to change one's life may be hard to grasp and beyond comprehension - but it is right there within us all.

             When I was young, I often wished for a new life because I was not satisfied with the one I was living.  My home life was not particularly bad, but I did not get my way and I wanted more.  I also wanted to feel differently about myself for in my mind I did not measure up.  My scale for happiness and popularity was how other people looked, acted, and what they seemed to have that I did not.  Then I started drinking.  For a short while altering my consciousness seemed to provide the answer to my feeling of ‘less than,’ in fact it made me feel better than others because I had found a solution.  I had found a new way of living, and I made a conscious decision to pursue it daily, if possible.

            Today, I have found another new way of living – another solution to my life, which I chose to pursue on a daily basis.  That is one of the amazing things about Alcoholics Anonymous – finding what I had always been looking for, even if most of the time I was not sure what that truly was.  When I was using, not doing drugs and alcohol seemed like something which boring and less enlightened people did, and that held absolutely no attraction for me.

            Our literature informs us that years of drunkenness and bad behavior, plus a life lived driven by self-centeredness, will finally beat us down so badly that the lucky ones decide to try something else.  The unlucky ones hang on to the old life until the miserable end – or die trying.  Today I give thanks for being one of the lucky ones.

I harbored the belief that I could avoid the drama, chaos, and personality issues associated with alcoholism for they were signs of weakness.  My superior intellect would render me immune from those consequences.  As to this, and many other lofty distorted ideals, I had no understanding of the power of powerlessness.  So, I fell just as hard as everyone, and I could not do anything about it until I let go and surrendered.

            I received God’s grace, which is an unwarranted and unmerited gift.  I did nothing to earn it except I did not die and became willing to accept it.  At the time I had little clue what was best for me, although doing what I wanted whenever possible had long ceased to be a path to a fulfilling life – in fact I was slowly realizing it felt more like a trap.  One thing did seem clear though, and that was that I could not go on living the way I was.  That uncertainty, I now understand, is a brief state of Grace for it allowed me to become teachable.  At the time it felt like desperation, and it was.  There is nothing wrong with desperation if we use it to affect a positive change in our lives.

            This did not happen suddenly, and at times I was none too happy about what was being offered. I had invested many years in turning my back on the straight life, even though I had no true understanding of what a different way of living actually entailed other than not using.  Contempt prior to investigation.  When I saw that phrase in the Appendix of the Big Book, I knew it applied to me.  I also knew what some of the other lines in the book meant as well, like incomprehensible demoralization.  That was a perfect description of how I often felt, especially when coming to - following an eventful bout of so-called ‘partying’.

            Thankfully, the Program makes accessible a lot of help in the form of the fellowship, sponsors, literature, and a path to seek and make contact with a Higher Power of my own understanding.  I brought my teachability, and a wish for a new way of living.  Desperation applied the key of willingness.  Many times during this journey I fought the very things which would save me, like staying sober, or working the steps as written, or asking for help and sharing what was going on in my head, and I often balked at asking my Higher Power for help or guidance.  I have since fully embraced all those things, and so much more.

        Living in sobriety is more than simply not using drugs and alcohol - it requires a complete change in attitude and outlook on life.  The Twelve Steps provide the template and pathway to achieve this, along with the help of a Higher Power and the collected experience of the fellowship.  All I have to do is be willing to go through with the process, and then actually do the things which are suggested.  The life I lived before was filled with remorse, regret, and many unpleasant consequences as the direct result of my actions - so I use the unpleasant memory of my past to keep me on track today.  I do not want to go back to the way I was, so I must focus on doing the things which connect me to a Power Greater than me, and changing the things which prevent me from moving forward.

            It has been thirty-eight years since my last drink.  I sincerely appreciate this new way of living, and I try to keep it new – in my gratefulness, in my attitude, in my behavior, and in my prayers.  There is no doubt what awaits all of us if we do not remain mindful of what needs to be done each and every day.  That old life is waiting within my own brain. I must be vigilant each day, and repeat the things that work and which saved me.  This is my new way of living, and I live it one day at a time.



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