When I heard the promises being read at one of my first AA meetings it gave me goose bumps. It made my heart beat faster and gave me chills up my spine. It spoke to me so deeply that it was essentially what sold me on sobriety and the fellowship of AA. It had that much power over a hard headed, pompous person like me. I wanted everything that it promised, I wanted freedom and happiness and hope and faith. I was told if I followed the simple guidelines of AA that I too would have these promises come true. Desperate and in pain, I would read it over and over again on days when I felt I could not overcome, on days when I felt so overwhelmed with sober life; and the devastation of my old life.
The promises became my serenity prayer.
The words are remarkably liberating, even still to me at four years of sobriety. It begins using the word painstaking, or how I took it, desperation. Which I was able to identify with quite easily. Painstaking is being thorough and detailed, regardless of the how much it hurts. I was no stranger to pain and hurt so I was willing to face it. I was desperate and would have done anything for relief.
The idea of coming to terms with who I was felt like an impossible achievement. Hearing that I could eventually come to peace with the ruins of my old life was comforting. That I would ultimately not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We can learn from who we were, we can use our pain and past as fuel to becoming the person we had always dreamed to be. We can educate and inspire. We can free ourselves. Basically we learn how to own our shortcomings.
Comprehending the word serenity, becoming familiar with peace, was my ultimate goal. While in active addiction and early sobriety the word peace would emanate from my mouth almost everyday as if it where a dream or something that would never come true. All I wanted was a quiet mind, a restful sleep and order to the chaos in my life. I wanted to be content with who I am, what I do and how I act. Today I am. In all aspects.
Our experiences, no matter how bad or how awful, are what we use to bring in the newcomer. We too have been hollow, had endless sadness and multiple regrets. We too have been where you are, follow the lead of the fellowship, we will show you the way to a new happiness.
As alcoholics and addicts we have grown fond of self-pity. For me, it was one of the rare emotions that I could actually feel and made me feel alive. That I could feel anything was a relief, so I cherished it like an old friend, wallowing in it every chance I had. I was stuck in it like the eye of a tornado. The faster you overcome this, the easier things will be for you. It kept me sick, I was stuck in this negative emotion of self destruction, day in and day out. When promised that it would essentially disappear made me more eager to participate.
We will eventually become unstuck on ourselves. In early sobriety you are consumed with you, you are unbecoming all you were for the many years of actively using and abusing. You are constantly taking your own inventory and thinking about your pain, how you will get through it, and how you are going to make amends. This will eventually dissipate. You will get out of yourself once the dust settles and your wounds heal. You will be so grateful for the new life you have been given that you will want to share it with anyone who will listen. By helping someone else you are getting out of you, your struggle. There is no greater feeling than watching someone transform, watching the light turn on in their eyes.
It may be difficult at first to socialize. My anxiety was crippling and I became comfortable with isolation. I would drive to the grocery store and sit in the parking lot unable to muster up the courage to go in so I would turn around and drive back home. I did not want to be in any social settings and leaving my home every morning to go to work was grueling. This, I promise you, will pass. You will find a new interest in things and people. You will see how much fun you really are, minus the alcohol and drugs. Sunny days will feel warmer, the sound of trees blowing in the fall breeze will become peaceful, nature will take on a whole new appreciation. The smell of fresh baked cookies and Sunday sauce cooking in your home will fill you with warmth. Cold nights under a warm blanket will become comforting. Your whole attitude and outlook upon life will change, you will lose the fears you have of people.
Economic security will come eventually, be patient. You need to figure you out first. One thing at a time. Money is money, your sanity is more important. What is money and bills when you are in the nut house.
Lastly, we are promised that we will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffles us. Basically you will find your way through daily struggles. This happens sometimes quickly or sometimes slowly, but is important to trust the process. Your struggles vary from the person sitting next to you. At four years of sobriety I am still unearthing some demons that resonated deep down. You will however have learned through the fellowship and trusting in a higher power how to navigate your way through it.
Read the promises. Read them everyday. Feel the power of these words and use them as inspiration to pursue your ultimate goal of sobriety. You are not getting sober to ultimately live a miserable life, you are not becoming sober to live a glorious financial rich life. You are becoming sober to become right with yourself and become right with the people around you. You are becoming sober to find peace within yourself and find love for you.