Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Just like brushing my teeth

Perhaps this blog will make me sound like a big Bible-thumper. Believe me, nothing could be further from the truth. I have always felt, and still feel, that there are many routes to God. Of course, I hadn't found my own until just awhile ago.

Before I got into recovery, I did not see the value of prayer in everyday life. It seemed very mechanical to me. I wasn't grateful for much in life since I saw the world in such a dysfunctional way. So I never prayed in gratitude! I used my Higher Power as a personal Santa Claus. When I wanted something, I selfishly prayed for it. When I didn't get the thing I asked for, I concluded that God did not exist, or, if God DID exist, God just didn't care about me.

So I had pretty much given it up. When I entered recovery, I was so desperate, that I was willing to do whatever that group of alcoholics suggested that I do. Prayer was suggested. I prayed because that was what I was told to do and it seemed to help during those dark, early days when I found myself taking it not just one day at a time, but one moment at a time.

Later, I learned never to pray for selfish ends, only for others. This was the complete opposite of what I had been used to! At the advice of my fellow recovering alcoholics, I only prayed for myself when it came to becoming a person who could be of greater service to others. This included staying clean and sober as well as letting go of my selfishness, self-seeking, dishonesty, and--what for me is the root of everything--fear.

Amazing, this seemed to work as well! I became someone who could accomplish things she had only dreamed of before. Even more importantly, I became a less obsessive, stressed-out, unpleasant person. I began to WANT to do things for others. Dare I say... I became HAPPIER? Instead of putting away chairs after meetings because it was "the right" thing to do, I inherently WANTED to chip in and tidy the room. Actions I used to take with resentfulness, I took gladly and with a song in my heart. It was a song that began very quietly. It was the song of sobriety, no, it was more than that: it was the song of serenity.

Serenity. I had never felt it before. I have never known the meaning of the word peace before. Inner peace has come to me as a gift of my sobriety and the work I have done within my sobriety.

One thing I do to maintain my inner, and outer peace, is daily prayer and meditation. I find a quiet spot, and talk to my Higher Power, which I call God, twice a day. Just in my thoughts of course. I have certain prayers that I pray each time and then I turn over my resentments, fears, and other personal flaws which glom onto me like barnacles each and every day, to my Higher Power. And then, I thank my Higher Power for 24 hours of sobriety, for my recovery, for my family, and for my friends in and out of recovery.

And then, I take my specific concerns for others to my Higher Power. These are usually health-related concerns, as well as people I know are having a hard time with sobriety. Some may be wanting to get sober and not know how, some may be still out drinking and using, but I keep them all in my prayers. And I pray for people who have shown me cruelty. I do this for two reasons: because I know that they are having some kind of troubles right now, or they wouldn't do that-AND, I do it because if I let a hurt turn into a resentment, I am doomed. Resentment is as poisonous to me as alcohol.

Why do I pray, not because I am a particularly pious individual, or because I follow a certain prescribed religion that requires it. No, I pray because by doing so, I am saving my own ass and preserving my sobriety.

You see, if I lose my serenity, I will lose my sobriety. I will drink because of a resentment, because of a fear, because of a stress, jealousy or anything else.

And if I lose my sobriety, I will die.

I love helping other people and I love being in a state of serenity, but at the end of the day, I can't forget that it is a bonus. My primary concern is NOT TO DRINK AND NOT TO USE. Alcoholism and drug addiction are deadly diseases and those of us in recovery must NEVER, NEVER lose sight of that.

With that said I wish everyone an extra big helping of serenity, today, always! XO