June 9, 2014

AA Step Eleven - Sought to Improve

AA Step 11 - Sought to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. -Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Step Eleven 

Step 11, AA 12 and 12, pg 96

 When I started my recovery journey, I couldn't stay sober for more than a few months at a time. I was struggling something awful! I was irritable, discontent and just unhappy! I kept thinking that I was missing something and well, I was. Being part of the Alcoholics Anonymous I was often reminded that I needed a Higher Power, a God of my understanding, a belief in something greater than myself, a spiritual path to follow, and faith of some kind. This was quite a tall order for me, oh so scientific mind, and I was not having any part of it - I wouldn't even repeat the Lord's prayer at the end of 12-step meetings. Prayer seemed silly to me; there was no one listening, and who were all these people praying to anyway!?

But after my last relapse I was at my wits end and I was ready to try anything to release me from the viscous alcoholic life. I knew I was missing some kind of spirituality but I just didn't even know where to start looking for it. I read some books, but nothing really spoke to me. I talked to people and got even more confused! I decided that if I couldn't just believe, I would force myself to accept it. I decided to let go of all my old beliefs and bought a little necklaces with a cross pendant. It felt really uncomfortable wearing it at first because it symbolized all that I didn't believe in, but then again, what could it hurt I assumed, it's just a necklaces, sort of like a rabbits foot, a favorite shirt, a lucky hat, or that magic rock! 

I wore my necklace every single day and started to really believe that it had some magical powers. This simple act of wearing the necklaces become something way bigger than I would have ever imagined. It became my protector, it became my guide, and it became my hope! I even noticed that my urge to drink was lifted. Life started to bloom around me. My heart got softer and kinder. I was smiling more often! I even begun to feel happy!

I also started praying. First it was just a simple "Please help me stay sober." and "Thank you for keeping me sober." Then during the night when I could not asleep, I repeated the serenity prayer until I fell asleep; “God grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” I would also list all the things that I could not change and all the things that I could change. And I always asked for the wisdom to know the difference. This prayer alone has put my mind at ease many times! Then, I found myself praying in times of hardship and asking for patience, acceptance and forgiveness. When I was faced with difficult people I asked to be compassionate and caring. When had financial troubles I asked to have my worries taken away. I often used lines out of the Lord’s Prayer when dealing with my own wrongs and forgiveness, “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us" - as well as when I was having cravings for a drink - "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” It seamed that all of the sudden, there was  some prayer that I could repeat that would help me during the difficult times!
I still can't quite explain how all this works. I have actually been able to feel the guiding power in my life and in times of need it was always there to protect me and steer me in the right direction. So, I have continued this practice for a while now, and I have been able to get thru some really challenging times in my life, by simply believing in a Higher Power and praying. Of course, to my biggest surprise, whatever guidance or help I asked for I have received, which is really quite unbelievable but I am so very grateful for all this amazing love that seemed to have come from no where! Who knew?!

I have to mention here, that I always though that one had to follow a religion in order to be spiritual, I never though that you could be spiritual without actual religion. There was a long period in my journey that I was constantly searching for this great religion, but what I didn't see was that spiritually is in each one of use, all we have to do is tap into it!
Today, I truly believe that there is a Higher Power that cares for all of us. I still do not believe in socialized religion but that's ok. I have admired many Christian prayers and I have been able to rely on many Buddhist teachings. And for my guardian necklace, well, it took me a while to replace it with one a bit more fitting, but I think "believe" is just perfect. I still wear it every single day!

Click HERE to read the AA Step Eleven.