Words and phrases like stop, slow down, exercise caution ahead, were largely disregarded by us during our days of alcohol, drug and food excess. If anything, the only word we lived by was “more”.
Entering the program provided structure and boundaries for us that were very necessary. One of the first things we needed to do was stop talking and begin listening. It turned out that we didn’t have the answer for every problem that landed on our doorstep. It was a wise move to be quiet and listen to the counsel of those with greater experience.
It was also imperative that we stop acting on our impulsive thoughts. Just because we had a thought didn’t mean we had to immediately fulfill it. When we had done so in the past we often ended up in some serious hot water. Our poor choices had frequently led to divorce, insolvency and medical issues.
Learning to put the brakes on our thoughts and behaviors did not come easily for us. Often we needed to speak things over with our sponsor or another member in the program. We also learned a lot just by listening to others share how they had sped through their own personal stop signs.
Personal Insight: Have I instituted stop signs in my life?
Sometimes we discover a 12 step room that could be from a movie set. All of the chairs are comfortable. The room is well lit and airy. We can see trees and sky through the picture windows. There is the wonderful strong aroma of fresh brewed high quality coffee. Some delicious treats have been laid out buffet style for all to enjoy. The space is wonderfully cool during the warm weather months and nice and toasty in the winter.
Yes, sometimes we find a room like that, but much of the time that’s not the case. Often the chairs are rickety, the lighting is poor, it’s hot in the summer and chilly in the winter and the coffee looks and tastes like mud.
But the truth is that none of that matters. We could be sitting on pogo sticks and still need to be full of gratitude. We are part of a fellowship which has changed our lives. Apart from freeing us from of our drug of choice, we have experienced a psychic change. We are no longer the same person who walked through the door of AA, NA or OA the first time. Emotional sobriety has been encountered and has begun to be absorbed. That rickety chair you’ve been sitting on is worth more than a truckload of massage chairs and recliners.
Personal Reflection: Why is my home group seat so valuable?
There will be frequent challenges in life regardless of where we live, who we associate with or what we do. Every person encounters this fact. For those of us who were addicts and alcoholics, an additional layer of problems was often piled on as a result of our actions. Lacking the tools to deal with these roadblocks of life, we quickly turned to the one remedy we were familiar with; our substance of choice. Unfortunately, not only did it not solve our dilemma, it often exacerbated the situation.
Coming into the fellowship provided some immediate relief. When we put down the bottle, drug or food our life began to improve. However, we quickly saw that we still were encountering many challenges. At first we may have panicked because self medication was no longer an option. It was then that we began to explore a whole new world of choices which helped us to navigate life’s hardships.
Speaking to a sponsor every day provided us with an outlet for our feelings. We also often received excellent guidance on how to handle various situations. As we began to work the steps we began to turn more and more of our life over to a Power greater than ourselves. Ironically, we also found that by helping others we were able to escape much of the negativity which had been generated by an issue we had been facing.
Personal Reflection: When I’m jammed up, what do I run to?