Monday, April 9, 2007

Program Promises

I must have been ONE FORTUNATE addict when I cleaned up - and it must have been 'my time' for sure, because I understood 'The Promises' and experienced a taste of them within my first week of sobriety.

Here are the Promises from pages 83 and 84 of the Alcoholics Anonymous book:

“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”

I was definitely AMAZED before I was halfway through. What I realized during the first week of sobriety is that I had made a DECISION. That decision FREED ME from all the self-inflicted alcohol-depression, hangovers, the cycle of hangovers and binges. Though I didn't feel it very often at first, I did experience feelings of 'peace' in knowing I wasn't fully immersed and entangled in a trap anymore. I wasn't free from every bad thing, but I was FREE from GETTING DRUNK and initiating the next hangover, the next bout of depression and panic attacks.

I felt more FREEDOM knowing that I would never have to return to FEELING THAT OLD WAY if I didn't drink again. I didn't know how I was going to 'not drink' for the rest of my life...but after a few days of sobriety, I knew how I stayed sober the day before...and resolved that if I didn't know how I would stay sober 'TOMORROW' and 'JUST FOR ONE DAY' ahead of time, or even 'Just For Today' - that I would simply do what I did YESTERDAY.

Whatever works, right?

'The Promises,' for some reason, are a concept that, even at the start of my recovery, I never did take lightly. I made fun of them on the surface, but never strongly declared that I doubted the possibilities on pages 84 and 85 of the A.A. Literature. I am fortunate, because I grasped onto those pages RIGHT AWAY. I was never one who spent a lot of time asserting, "Those things will never happen with me!" A few of my peers who said that the promises would never appear in their lives have died drug-related deaths. Some are out drinking and drugging today. Most have just relapsed and disappeared. A small number of immediate peers with whom I started my recovery journey with - have stayed clean. I can count these only on hand, but they, too, say that they understand The Promises - and they understood pages 84 and 85 of the Big Book early on.

Apart from the decision I made 3 years ago - to stop drinking...I also made a decision that if I felt that any of 'The Promises' were transpiring in my life, I would REFUSE TO GIVE THEM UP. That has always meant, for me, that I refuse to trade any freedom I've gained, any peace, serenity I've ever felt since being sober, any 'new happiness'...for a drink.

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