Saturday, January 26, 2008

My will

Step 3 says the we made a conscious decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

What does the word will mean in this context? When we listened to the Joe and Charlie tapes while do a big book study I understood that simply put my will was my thinking. The reason for the question is that I have been asking a lot of people about how they handle fear. Before meetings, after meetings, at coffee shops, I've been hearing a lot of answers. Normal people, AA's, folk from other 12 step groups, workmates and family. I spoke to a councillor seeking some ideas. (When I began thinking, last week, that a chemical solution might be the best way out of my fears, I thought I better start reaching out for help.)

The answers were mostly the same. Acceptance and faith. Many AA members pointed me to the back of Big Book. To page 417 in the 4th edition. In a story called "Acceptance was the answer".

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation -- some fact of my life -- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate no so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in my and in my attitudes.

Some pointed to the long form of the serenity prayer to show how we are to accept the world as God see's it, not as how we want it. Some pointed to spiritual readings from their religion (Christianity, Buddism, other forms of spirituality) on how less reliance on self and more reliance on the Higher Power will help to handle or lessen the fear.

When I spoke of the mechanics of my fear, many could identify with me. Taking the past and projecting it on the future. Playing the what if game. The rat's nest in the head. But, also, how my thinking deliberately seeks out the worst thoughts so that the fear will appear. I'll be busy at work and find myself full of dread. My thoughts ruminating (the councillor I saw gave me that term) about my addicted child, about the worst things that could happen. I'll stop the thoughts, get back into work, and fifteen minutes later I'll be back into the foul tasting cud. Over and over, throughout the day, my thoughts keep going to the worst. As I approach the time to go home, it becomes continuous. At the treatment centre I had attended, my councillor there stated that I like being fearful, that I want to be fearful. I thought he was a little off the wall but I'm beginning to see the truth in his words. If I didn't like it, I wouldn't keep thinking the worst thoughts. I feel like there is a groove in my mind, and to follow that groove is the easier, softer way. My thoughts go down that groove naturally. No effort it seems. What do I get when I feel fear. Up to a few months ago, it was an excuse to pop the cork on yet another bottle, to visit yet another unsavoury site on the net. To feel sorry for me.

Today, I don't numb out. I still have the fear. I know it's a huge defect of character for me. The source of most of my anger and self pity. God still hasn't got some magic pixie dust to drizzle over my head and make it go away. I need to deal with it.

As all these folk shared with me, I was reminded of tools I have been given in the past and was no longer using as well as given some new tools. The kindness, concern, and generosity of all those I spoke with fills me with gratitude. The encouragement of my spouse to keep on talking about my fears, not to start to bottle them up inside of me was invaluable. The wisdom that comes from my own children. Wow.

Today, when I start to feel fear, I know they come from my thoughts. I shout "Stop" (well, not out loud, just in my head) and take a few deep breaths. I remind myself to pray, to turn to God, to recite the serenity prayer. I take the thing that I was thinking about and turn it back over to God, acknowledging that I am powerless. Sometimes, I force myself to think the opposite of what I was thinking. Seeing my addicted child in recovery, in being able to receive love as well as giving it, of realizing their own potential gifts. In a couple of moments the fear is gone. When it reappears, sometimes in a short while, sometimes in a long while, I repeat. Over and over again. One benefit of this is I am spending much more time with my higher power. If my sponsor is right, this is going to take a while before it becomes a habit. Until then, I can't chastise myself every time I don't catch my thinking right away, just to pick up the tools when I notice whats going on and get to work.

Fear seems to be a big factor in every alcoholics life and probably in most human beings. We don't struggle alone.


pat said...

Fear is a factor in all those seeking help whether in recovery themselves or hoping to see recovery in those we love. For every one negative fearful thought write down two positive happy thoughts.

Anonymous said...

This passage in "Courage To Change" has always helped me, I hope this is not too long:

I find myself taking step 3 over and over again. Unfortunately, I often wait until a problem starts to overwhelm me before I finally give in and turn it over to my Higher Power. Nevertheless, today I am striving to place my entire will and life in my Higher Power's hands with the willingness to accept His or Her will for me no matter what.

The awareness I have gained in Al-Anon lets me know that my way has seldom worked in the past. It's only when I let go and trust the inner voice that quietly nudges me in the direction of my Higher Powers choosing, that my life becomes fulfilling.

Today's Reminder
Is there an area in my life that I treat as though it was too important to turn over to a Higher Power? Are my efforts to control that area making my life better and more manageable? Are they doing any good at all? I can hold on to my will until the situation becomes so painful that I am forced to submit, or I can put my energy where it can do me some good right now, and surrender to my Higher Power's care.

"I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess"
Martin Luther
(Courage To Change,p269)

indistinct said...

Pat - Two for one? I'm gonna have to buy some more pens! Switching the negative to the positive is hard work, even just catching myself in the negativity can be an effort. But it's well worth the work. Thanks for the help, all your sharing over the last few weeks.

dirtydishes -- Never to long. A great passage. I love the quote from Martin Luther. If anyone understood courage and fear it was him. Thank you for taking the time to share the passage.