The issue of religion arises at least once a month at any 12-step meeting that includes newcomers. It’s amazing how it causes confusion. Some folks claim that you have to believe in God, while others say all you have to do is admit you aren’t Him. Others, myself among them, maintain that the spirituality aspect of the program has nothing to do with God unless we choose to make it so. Only one thing’s for sure: put two addicts in the same room and it will soon be overflowing with opinions.
Sometimes I wish I could loan my faith to others. At least I felt that way the other night at my homegroup when the topic was “your spiritual experience.” In share after share, people balanced guarded reservation with the undeniable fact that, once they sincerely asked a higher power for help, their addiction was lifted and a new way of living began for them. A few also shared that certain inexplicable synchronicities or phenomena had strengthened their faith.
What is emotional sobriety? Some might think that it means being “happy, joyous, and free,” a common adage in 12-Step meetings, taken from AA literature. Of course, people like this definition. It means that if they work a good program, they will achieve physical sobriety (abstinence) and become happy in the process.
In my own early recovery, I had issues with God and was afraid for my chances of long-term recovery. Thankfully, those who have achieved long-term sobriety can and often will help addicts, and one told me that GOD can stand for Good Orderly Direction. This simple shift in thought helped in my personal journey of spiritual surrender, and I developed a deeper relationship with God as a result.
Old playgrounds, old playmates. Early in my sobriety, I grappled with the idea that I would have to give up the places and people I loved––the latter being the greater sacrifice, naturally.
It was easier than I imagined to avoid my old haunts, and most of my friends were happy to meet for coffee instead of drinks or to take a walk after dinner instead of staying out ’til the wee hours.
We know the common saying, “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” And this applies perfectly to our lives in recovery, especially as we prepare to march through the holiday season. Sobriety and recovery don’t just happen; they’re the result of intentional effort and even planning. For those of us accustomed to living by the seat of our pants, this can be a hard concept to grasp.
As 2015 winds down, people around the world are setting their sights on 2016. It is that time that traditionally we set goals and intentions for the upcoming year. Yet many of us have been taught, as members of recovery communities, that God’s will is a one day at a time practice. We learn to let go of expectations and to take the day as it comes. I have sat in meetings on January 1 where people talked about the relief of not setting goals or making resolutions. The goal is to be grateful for what we have and have it be enough.
Most people know the holidays can be a period of emotional highs and lows. Loneliness, anxiety, happiness and sadness are common feelings, sometimes experienced in startling succession. The bad news is the holiday blues can trigger relapse for people recovering from alcoholism and other drug addiction. The good news is the blues can be remedied by planning ahead.