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The Road of Happy Destiny - My Journey in Recovery

Updated on December 6, 2012

How The 12 Steps Changed My Life

This has been a challenging lens to create. I found myself getting too busy to work on it on purpose. Recently I was reading a fellow lensmaster's story, and realized that the only thing that has been holding me back is fear. So, I have made a decision to create this lens about my journey in recovery from alcoholism. I share this story with humility and hope that if even one person finds the way out of active addiction for even one day, it will have been worth the relative slight emotional discomfort.

Remember that we can accomplish any task for one day. Each morning we make a decision again. The simple one day at a time concept, as modeled in the 12 step recovery method, is the beginning of a journey that will set us free. I have been making a decision each morning since November 21, 1993. This is a glimpse into my story...

Image Credit

"One Day at a Time"

Beginning Any Journey...

starts with the first step.

STEP ONE

WE admitted we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable.

I Could Stop Without The Recovery Program

"...a lie that you will soon begin to believe."There were many times that I was able to stop drinking without the 12 step program. And it was this point that may have kept me from seeking the right kind of help for many years. I had the notion that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), was for people who wanted to quit. I could quit. So I didn't investigate any further.

What I discovered is that AA isn't just about how to quit. It is a lifetime program of learning how to live with a disease that centers in the mind, becoming more acute over time, and increasingly difficult to challenge. I have heard it said "Alcoholism is a disease (and perhaps the only one), that tries to convince you that you do not have it. It is a progressive illness that continues to envelope your being and it has one goal, which is to destroy your life to the point of actually taking it away."

Alcoholism will tell you that you do not have it. It will convince you that you can quit anytime. It will begin to change your goals in life by lowering them, and creating a lie that you will soon begin to believe. A good example of this from my experience would be my love of art. The high expectations I had for my life when I was very young were soon replaced with less challenging goals. I couldn't get what I wanted for so long; eventually I began to believe that I didn't want it in the first place.

I had found myself at a point where the thought of dying from alcoholism was almost comforting when compared to the thought of living with it. The Alcoholics Anonymous Text, (often called the Big Book), calls this 'the jumping off place,' when we couldn't imagine a life with alcohol or a life without it. Some people have called this 'place' the 'hitting bottom.'

"One Step at a Time"

* - The Alcoholics Anonymous Text - The Big Book

May I Borrow Your God?

STEP TWO

We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

When I Hit My Bottom - I Had Been Sober for 7 Years

"...I needed whatever it was that she had."When I hit my bottom I had been sober for 7 years. I didn't even know how miserable I was until I met my first sponsor. After a long holiday weekend, I took a car load of children to the park. I was pulling my hair out. I thought that if I could just get a bit of distance between them and me, I might make it through another day.

I recall how so many days felt like that. I didn't want to get up in the morning, I didn't want to be around anyone, and I just wanted to make it though one more day.

I arrived at the park and told the children to 'get over there and play.' I moved to a table that was just close enough if they needed me, but, far enough away to find respite. After I calmed down a little bit, I noticed another women sitting at a nearby table. Very quickly I started to notice the differences.

First of all she was smiling. She had the same number of children with her, but, they were all laughing and playing. They would run up to her and giggle, then run off to play again. Something about this scene made me feel that I needed whatever it was that she had to create such a beautiful and supportive relationship with these little ones.

Against every cell of my being telling me to not do anything, I walked over to her table and introduced myself. Then I came right out with my question. How do you do it?

"Surrender to Serenity"

* - Adult Children of Alcoholics - The Family in Recovery

"Without Help It Is Too Much For Us"

STEP THREE

We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as WE understood him.

Because You Loved Me - This is what it feels like to be taken under the wind of a sponsor in AA.

Music By Dianne Warren

Lyrics:

For all those times you stood by me

For all the truth that you made me see

For all the joy you brought to my life

For all the wrong that you made right

For every dream you made come true

For all the love I found in you

I'll be forever thankful.

You're the one who held me up

Never let me fall

You're the one who saw me through through it all

You were my strength when I was weak

You were my voice when I couldn't speak

You were my eyes when I couldn't see

You saw the best there was in me

Lifted me up when I couldn't reach

You gave me faith 'coz you believed

I'm everything I am

Because you loved me

You gave me wings and made me fly

You touched my hand I could touch the sky

I lost my faith, you gave it back to me

You said no star was out of reach

You stood by me and I stood tall

I had your love I had it all

I'm grateful for each day you gave me

Maybe I don't know that much

But I know this much is true

I was blessed because I was loved by you

You were my strength when I was weak

You were my voice when I couldn't speak

You were my eyes when I couldn't see

You saw the best there was in me

Lifted me up when I couldn't reach

You gave me faith 'coz you believed

I'm everything I am

Because you loved me.

* I do not take claim to any of

the original materials used in this video.

All rights are reserved by the respective record company's and artists.

Attraction Not Promotion - Look for the Similarities

"...seeking the right kind of help."

Maybe I only heard what I wanted to hear at the time, but, I don't think she mentioned AA even once during our visit. She spoke of meetings, conventions, committees, dances, outings, family events, movie nights, and told me that it just so happened they were going to have a meeting the following Wednesday.

For the next two days I primarily watched the clock. I couldn't wait to go to the meeting that would give me what she had.

I realized that I wanted more than to just not drink. I realized that I needed to team up with people who would show me how to live. And for the first time I believed that there was a better way to approach the problems that alcohol had initiated in my life.

Of course...I didn't have that much insight into my situation or what it was all about at the time. I primarily knew that I hoped to find whatever my new friend had found so that I could be free of the emotional pain and unhappiness that had been a constant companion for far too long.

"More will be revealed"

Action and More Action

"Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy Will."

"Next...WE launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning."(Chapter 5)

WE are now at STEP FOUR

That And So Much More

"Happy, Joyous, & Free!"

SHE SAID

"Keep doing what you're doing, and you'll keep getting what you're getting."

"You need to get rid of the lies to make room for the truth."

"Look for the similarities, not the differences."

"Keep coming back, don't quit before the miracle happens."

"You only need to go to a meeting; when you want to go, when you don't want to go, and at 8:00."

"You probably only need one meeting a week, but, you never really know which one it is."

BILL W. SAID

"I had always believed in a Power greater than myself."

"When they talked about a God personal to me, who was love, superhuman strength and direction, I became irritated and my mind snapped shut against such a theory."

I prayed every day that God would direct me and guide me to a life that would be of maximum service. Yet, things never seemed to work out in any sane fashion. I continued to believe that there was a God and that I had alienated Him because I had been unable to grasp a solution to my problems.

In recovery I found out that I was doing it all backwards. I did not need to find favor with God. It appears that we already have access to all of God's love, care, and forgiveness. What I needed to realize was that I was dealing with a disease that centered in my mind and had all but taken over my emotions, my sanity, and my ability to let go of the lies that I had long believed were true.

I was not going to find my way from where I was to where I wanted to be by any human power.

At the very first meeting of AA, it became clear that there was a better way to live. I met a few dozen recovering people the very first day and I sat quietly listening to each of them speak. I listened for the similarities and found out something very important.

I had found people who had the same kind of thinking that I did. And, in spite of that, they were moving forward. No one had ever understood how my mind worked, until I found a group of people who had the same kind of thinking that I do.

Recovery is a bit like a railroad track.

When I began recovery I had one way of thinking. Like one track on the railway. As time went on and I took the action that was suggested in the program, I started to build another track.

I still have the old track in my mind. And it often shows me that it is still there, active, aware, waiting for me to let anything wedge between myself and recovery.

The new track is also well developed, strong, and free. Living in my mind is a bit like having two televisions on at the same time. I just need to learn how to turn the volume down on the old one and I do that by making a decision each day to pay attention to the new way of thinking.

And...

I can start my day over any time I like.

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  • Dmarieinspires profile image

    Dana Marie 5 years ago from St. Peters, MO

    Great Lens. Thank you for sharing. Like you I too am an alcoholic on the journey of sobriety...oh how sweet it is to be living this new found life. :) Keep on Keeping on! God Bless.

  • Scriber1 LM profile image

    Scriber1 LM 5 years ago

    Gypsy, this very brave and well written lens really touched me. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  • poptastic profile image

    Cynthia Arre 7 years ago from Quezon City

    ... and blessed again. (:

  • sittonbull profile image

    sittonbull 8 years ago

    Gypsy Owl... who I have admired and enjoyed in my short Squidoo life... I admire, respect and enjoy you even more now that I know your story. Those of us who have stood by loved ones with this disease know that... "there but for fortune... go you or I!" and If it were me... I pray that I could garner the great courage and commitment to find the road to recovery as you, ChefKeem, Kate and the others who I know have. God Bless You and I am featuring you all, among others in my new lens on Inspiration and Determination. Stars and a favorite.

  • kateloving profile image

    Kate Loving Shenk 8 years ago from Lancaster PA

    Wonderful because you say what others need to hear--perhaps are afraid to hear--

    Lens rolled!! Now that felt good!!

    Love to all who trudge the path of happy destiny!!

  • profile image

    Joan4 8 years ago

    It is absolutely amazing to me that so many of you beautiful creative people, and I do love all of you - have battled this disease. I hope someone creates a directory of all your stories! What a powerful inspiration that would be. I agree with Chef Keem, you are a real superhero - as are all of you who win one day at a time! I so appreciate your writing this lens -- can you just imagine how many will be touched by it? Powerful powerful powerful. Love u, j

  • religions7 profile image

    religions7 8 years ago

    This lens too would be very welcome in the spiritual growth and self help group.

  • profile image

    JosephDiego 9 years ago

    Deborah, I Thank You. You are an inspiration to many, as I can see. Just by reading this lens and you Bio. I will be in touch. My female sponsor's name is Debbie, I have four sponsors. My First sponsor, from when I first started in 2003, Sponsor #2 Who is now like my Father, A third sponsor in Puerto Rico for when I visit, He is also the man who 12 stepped my mother in 2004. And my Debbie, I have her because I also have a wife in recovery. So when issues arise I call my Debbie...Please take a look at my lens...

    < a href=" http://www.squidoo.com/free-at-last-thank-god-all-...

    " target="_top">My Battle with addiction! < /a >

    And give me a rating please... I'm new

  • grandma deal profile image

    grandma deal 9 years ago

    4/10/98 - My recovery start date. I expect to be cured when I'm 6 feet under. Great Job on this lens. 5*.

  • SerenityPrayerG profile image

    SerenityPrayerG 9 years ago

    Such a beautiful lens! Heartfelt, inspiring, kind, wise, and generous! :-) Thank you for sharing!

  • GypsyOwl profile image
    Author

    Deb Bryan 9 years ago from Chico California

    chefkeem, Thank You! :D You're my superhero as well. You helped me find courage.

    webnh, Thank You! I will continue to add content. I appreciate your Squid Angel blessing. :D

    jewelsofawe, Congratulations! We share the same month of celebration! My recovery date is November 21, 1993 (I no longer count pre-recovery sobriety. For myself, that caused early recovery problems with people thinking I had more to share than I did, so I selected my first relatively sane day as my recovery date).

  • ZenandChic profile image

    Patricia 9 years ago

    I have been sober since nov. 2000 myself, also 7 years.

  • Zen Automat profile image

    Zen Automat 9 years ago

    an important lens 5* and a blessing from a Squid Angel. I hope you will continue to add content.

  • chefkeem profile image

    Achim Thiemermann 9 years ago from Austin, Texas

    Many people will benefit from your lens, Gypsy. Thank you for this honest and fearless report - I can identify completely with everything you say, especially the part when thoughts about dying from alcoholism become more comfortable than the outlook of living with the disease. You're my superhero! 5*s, fav and lr, of course. :-)