“Beginning with childhood, we all receive messages that… we must have… possessions, and prestige to be happy… giving what we have to help someone else makes us a lot happier…” – In God’s World
I often share this exact sentiment with others, something I’ve experienced first hand. After graduating college, I found myself working at a big company, wearing a 3 piece suite, driving a Mercedes 230SL, in what I considered a healthy romantic relationship and living in my newly owned co-op that I had recently renovated. Guess how I felt? You got it… unhappy, unfulfilled, and confused as to why I wasn’t happy. By the way, I was sober too, and had been for a few years.
What was missing? Oh, just about everything the program offers. Fellowship, a working knowledge of the steps, using the program’s principles in all my affairs, comfort in finding my part when upset and making amends quickly, an understanding of, and great relationship with, a higher power of my understanding, and perhaps most importantly, the desire, ability, and commitment to share what I learned in recovery with others (which at that time was nothing), helping to positively contribute to their lives. When I started putting all the other pieces together, that last part gave me the added gifts of both friendship and intimacy.
So what about money, property and prestige? Isn’t that important? Why can’t I have those too?
Well, of course I love those things–I’d be a liar if I said otherwise. Having money gives me a perception of financial security I long for and often feel I don’t have. Owning a house does the same thing, along with eliminating the fear of being evicted by a landlord or having my rent increase. Owning a nice car makes me feel good, is comfortable, and takes away the fear of not being able to get somewhere easily or dependably. And prestige? Well, I’ve discovered that I do care what others think about me–in spite of that often heard saying “What others think about me is none of my business.” But rather than wanting them to think I’m financially successful, it makes me feel much better to have them think I’m a kind, loving, helpful, emotionally stable, happy life lover. And that they know I’m aspiring to be a great husband, father, brother, son, sponsee–in truth, a great man. The money and things are great, but I believe they come (in the perfect amount and at the perfect time) when I work my program.
And speaking of working my program, I just wanted to say that for me, the program is more than meetings and calling my sponsor. I did that for years and it wasn’t enough – honestly I felt lost. I also sponsored others during that time, doing the two-step dance, and I wasn’t loving my life.
Today I’ve developed a concrete set of recovery actions that help me become the best man I can be, and experience the most emotional comfort I can have. That list includes:
• Attending at least 3, but preferably at least 4, meetings a week – one being an AlAnon meeting, and (if possible) one being a Double Winners meeting.
• Staying in communication with my sponsor, particularly when I’ve tried all other program solutions and still feel lost and/or confused.
• Reading recovery literature, and being sure to highlight in, and write at the top of, the pages I read each day.
• Writing recovery posts and texts like this, sharing them both on my blog and in texts to my core recovery group.
• Writing and sharing gratitude lists with others
• Making my bed daily
• Entering and exiting my bed from my knees where I connect with source
• Journaling with a pen and paper to take my inventory and examine the areas of my life I love and those I’d like to work on or surrender to my higher power.
• Making time to listen to affirmation-oriented loving meditations.
• Being productive toward making, and maintaining, myself as a financially self-supporting individual.
• Keeping my thoughts, efforts and physical surroundings organized to maximize my efficiency and sense of comfort.
• Engaging in hobbies that feed my creativity.
• Eating sensibly and healthily, but giving myself permission for occasional indulgences as a reward for being fit.
• Making time to get close to, and appreciate, the awesome nature that surrounds me.
• Being of service to others without monetary compensation, both in group settings, and one-on-one.
• Exercising my body by stretching and getting pushing my body to places that make me breath hard and both exercise my heart and keep my muscles strong.
I’m not perfect. I don’t get all of them done every day. I fall short of perfection. However, the more discipled I am about practicing these actions on a daily basis, the less uncomfortable I am when my expectations are unmet by others, or when situations don’t turn out as I hope, and the more… ILML!!