Updated: 7 days ago
“Here and there, once in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences. To me the occurrences are phenomena. They appear to be in the nature of huge emotional displacements and rearrangements. Ideas, attitudes, and emotions which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives began to dominate them.” -pg 27 Alcoholics Anonymous
The purpose of the twelve steps of any fellowship is at first, to relieve us from the obsession to drink and get high. However, as we progress through our program, and continue our work with a sponsor, we learn the real reason for the program.
The real and true purpose of the 12 steps is to free us from the wreckage of our past and the bondage of ourselves so that our Higher Power can enter into our lives. This process is what we in the fellowship like to call, a complete psychic change.
I realize that to many newcomers that sounds backwards, as the only desire they might have in the beginning is to just stop using. It isn’t backwards though, it is simply the order in which the program works for those who work it.
First, by surrendering to the program and admitting complete defeat by drugs and alcohol, we will be entered into a place of willingness and open-mindedness. These two qualities allow us to move forward with the rest of the program.
We find that once we enter into this willingness to move forward with the steps, and once we find even the smallest iota of a belief in a higher power, the obsession to drink and drug is lightened.
After we complete a thorough and honest fourth and fifth step, the obsession will be completely removed if we continue keeping ourselves aligned with the ideals of the program and the “next right thing.”
This complete psychic change comes to us in small doses at first, and for many of us, we don’t even really realize that we are changing until someone else points it out to us. For example, where we once would behave in a certain way during a certain situation, we will now respond in a new way.
The best example I can think of, for myself at least, is how I interact with the police these days. During my using, whenever I would get into predicaments with the police, I was usually snarky, rude, arrogant, and disrespectful, even if I was completely in the wrong. Nowadays, and mind you these run-ins happen a hell of a lot less when I manage to say… get pulled over for going a little too fast in a school zone… I can respectfully and graciously admit that I was wrong, and pay the officer with the common decency to not be an asshat while he is just trying to do his job.
The Big Book states it over and over, and even promises that we WILL experience this complete psychic change, so long as we TRY our best to stay aligned with good living and the program. There are several different promises that the book assures the reader will ring true so long as they continue using the spiritual toolkit that it lays out for them. Not only is the reader promised a release from the mental obsession of alcoholism, they are promised a better life, and thousands of recovered alcoholics have proved that it works.
“And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone - even alcohol. For by this time, sanity will have returned… We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically… We feel as though we have been placed in a position of neutrality - safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in spiritual condition.”
- Page 84-85 Alcoholics Anonymous
One of the most beautiful aspects of the program is the fellowship it brings up about us. The main goal is to let our Higher Power into our lives to remove our selfish and ego driven thoughts so that we may be of service to others.
By being of service to others, and sharing what we have freely received, the obsession to drink will be removed, and we are guaranteed a psychic change. For many of us, even just having the desire or the willingness to WANT to be of service to others, with no expectations of a reward, shows just how much we are already changing. Just being able to watch this change in others is a great enough gift for us now.
“I saw that my friend was much more than inwardly reorganized. He was on a different footing. His roots grasped a new soil.”
pg 12 Alcoholics Anonymous
I realize that to people who don’t suffer from the endless torture of addiction, this all probably sounds a little wonky. People that don’t understand the inner struggle that we face, the combination of self-hatred and inflated ego that drives us to treat ourselves and others horribly in the endless quest for more.
For those of us who are the real deal alcoholics and addicts, the only real and true thing we know is that in order to get better, we must have a complete psychic change. However, for over a million people who have recovered from the hopeless state of mind and body, the program of recovery and the ideals it presents us with, is the only method we have seen that actually works.
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