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Breakdown Lane | A Personal Journey of Recovery | Part 22 – Hitchhikers or Not?

I’d nearly thrown it all away; sixty days down the tubes for not listening to my inner voice, the one from my gut, not listening to the members at Alcoholics Anonymous, and for not listening to those in the rehab treatment center. I had, however, heard them when they, including my gut, told me to set up an out, and not to be afraid to leave. For me, drugs and alcohol are a life threatening situation.
          Would I die today if I took a drink? Yes and no.
          Physically, no I would not, not right away. It would take a little bit of time. Spiritually and emotionally I would for sure. I was as proud of my sixty days as I am of the time I have today because, and this again is just for me, I take my sobriety one day at a time; just twenty-four hours at a time. 
          That very moment in time, with the music throbbing throughout my body, the dark warmth of the club, and the lure of my so called friends nearly hooked me back. I stood staring for God knows how long at those around me. Suddenly my gut begun to churn, a cold sweat trickled down my back as the music began to assault my body, the darkness became coffin like, and my so called friends became hollowed out shells of what they once were. I was in a nightmare, so I did the only thing I could do. I ran.
          Well, to be honest, I walked quickly. I tried to act cool like nothing was bothering me, but my insides were in a panic.
          I think I’d like to segue here to current day and talk a little bit about the meetings I go to now, the 12-steps, and what I do to stay sober. Of course I’ll occasionally refer back to the recovery treatment center because I learned so many principles in that group that I still apply them to a lot of my day to day sobriety. 
          There are all sorts of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings out there now-a-days: speaker/discussion, where a recovering alcoholic speaks in front of a group, picks a topic and then anyone who wishes to share on that topic does; 12-Step Study, where the main topic is to discuss one of the steps each week; Big Book, where the group discusses a reading from the ‘big book’ of Alcoholics Anonymous; As Bill Sees It, where the group discusses a selected passage from the meeting; and there are many other types as well.
          When I first started out, I enjoyed the speaker/discussion meetings, and I still do. I enjoy listening to a person in recovery discuss, in a general way, what they used to be like, what happened, and what they are like now. For me, I think this is one of the cornerstones of my sobriety. I’m a story teller, so I like stories and I’m very capable of gleaning the information I need, learning from it, and then moving on. 
          Now, don’t get me wrong, the other meetings are great too…this is just a preference. I enjoy attending other meetings and I’ll participate whenever called upon, or if we are all sitting in a circle and going around the room, I’ll add my thoughts about the passage or reading.
          Just the other day, I was in a 12-Step Study meeting and the step we discussed was Step Five: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Not to point out the obvious but this step logically follows Step Four: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
          Although, I am not to discuss what I hear in meetings, I can tell you my part because I’m comfortable doing so. Steps Four, Five, Six and Seven, in my opinion are the hardest. They each require a lot of soul searching and gut wrenching honesty, and when I first came around I didn’t understand why ‘dredging up the past’, my words, was so darned important. Well, it’s important because it begins a process of emotional healing, and I suppose in some ways it is a way to forgive myself for my wacked out behavior when I was under the influence. 
          Anyway, there is a lot of approved Alcoholics Anonymous literature on the market and one of those is Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, which is referred to as the ‘12 and 12,’ or ‘12X12.’ As we were reading, each taking a paragraph as we went around the small room, nearly every paragraph spoke to me:
          “So intense, though, is our fear and reluctance to do this, that many A.A.’s at first try to bypass Step Five. We search for an easier way – which usually consists of the general and fairly painless admission that when drinking we were sometimes bad actors. Then, for good measure, we add dramatic descriptions of that part of our drinking behavior which our friends probably know about anyhow.”
          Honestly, this is exactly how I did both Step Four and Step Five the first time around. I made a list of ‘things’ without ever going too deeply and then confessed them. I didn’t confess them to anyone but God. This is so against what Step Five is about. I mean, I have to talk to God, my Higher Power, or whatever works for me, but the problem with this is that He already knows!
          One of the main rewards we are supposed to receive from going through Step Five, if done correctly, is to get rid of a terrible sense of isolation we’ve had. It is rare to find an alcoholic who has not been tortured by loneliness. The hope is to rid ourselves of the burden of guilt and loneliness and prepare ourselves for the following Steps. 

To the next part in the series — A Personal Journey of Recovery | Part 23 – Running on Empty – Click Here