One of the principles I live is to “carry the message to another alcoholic/addict”. However, the last week I’ve tried to listen more than speak about my sobriety. Despite my experience in sobriety, I don’t know everything; I’m still learning something about myself and others the more I listen. And when I listen, amazing things happen.
Almost every day last week I wanted to write on a topic I was thinking about. But my distracted mind kept me from posting my thoughts. Instead, when I attended a meeting, that specific topic was brought up by another person. Having experience I would share my experience, strength and hope. However, every point I wanted share about the topic was brought up by another person in a different way. In a way, I believe, my Higher Power was speaking through other people not only to others but to me too.
Yesterday, something was read in which I had never heard before. This is quite strange since I know most recovery literature inside and out or so I thought. I’ve mentioned on several occasions, most of the literature I read I relate in one way or another. Here is another example:
In early sobriety, I had to continue to live in a flop-house filled with active drunks. Not drinking, I became acutely aware of my surroundings—the foul smells, the noise, the hostility, and physical danger. My resentments mounted at the realization that I had flushed a career down the drain, disgraced and alienated my family, and been relegated to the meanest of institutions, a skid row shelter. But I was also able to realize that this bonfire of resentment and rage was beckoning me to pick up a drink and plunge into my death. Then I realized that I had to separate my sobriety from everything else that was going on in my life. No matter what happened or didn’t happen, I couldn’t drink. In fact, none of these things that I was going through had anything to do with my sobriety; the tides of life flow endlessly for better or worse, both good and bad, and I cannot allow my sobriety to become dependent on these ups and downs of living. Sobriety must live a life of its own.Alcoholics Anonymous, He Lived Only to Drink, p. 450-451.
This is exactly how I live today. I still live in a chemical dependency program right across the street from a halfway house (“a flop-house filled with active drunks”). Of the eighteen men who live in the house, maybe one or two are active members of a program of recovery. The others – they are miserable and they show me every day. I simply have nothing to do with any of them.
What about my program of “sharing our experience, strength and hope to the suffering alcoholic/addict”?
It is only through our own experiences one knows when to share and when not to share. If you’re rambling on about how miserable your life is – I’ll listen. When I ask you to listen but you must remind me of your misery – the ball stops there. I might politely remind you to listen again. But if you’re not paying attention, why should I be talking? Put your feet in my shoes. When you’re talking to someone and they are on their phone, looking around, not looking at you directly, interrupting or you’re trying to talk over me- it’s disrespectful and rude. I don’t let it happen. I was in your shoes and it didn’t work. Instead, I drank. I didn’t want to deal with the overwhelming problems of life. To be honest, even those mentioned which aren’t receptive, I learn something about myself – what/who not to do/be.
However, if someone asks for help and they are receptive to listening I’ll spend as long as you need me. It’s always a two-way street. First and foremost, the hope is I’m helping you. However, most people don’t realize that they are helping me. Despite my (usual) level head, I have issues of my own. If I’m attentive to what the other person says, I can say 99.9% of the time, I hear something from them which helps me.