Stinkin’ Thinkin’ / Living in the Solution!
I got sober two weeks before Christmas, almost 33 years ago. So, it’s pre-birthday reflection time for me! I love the period coming up to my sobriety date. I never cease to wonder at being given the gift of sobriety, one day at a time from the moment I surrendered to that First Step. I had lost everything, even custody of my child. I had tried for 11 years — as a 19-yr old teenager — to get sober. And I kept relapsing — once after two and a half years.
Today, with a sober mind, I can see why I kept relapsing — I had never surrendered to both parts of our First Step. It’s as simple as that. No mystery. But boy did I complicate it then… I desperately looked for the ‘answer’ — in AA, in spiritual books and retreats, talking with priests, hypnotherapy (ended up dating the hypnotherapist LOL who failed to hypnotize me, by the way), hospitals, psychologists, changing the type of drink … ad infinitum.
Then I spent two and a half years living in white-knuckled sobriety. And finally lifted that first one. It took seven years to get truly sober. The worst stuff happened through those seven years. But it took what it took.
Two fellow alcoholics texted me this morning, each to say they had picked up again. I felt sad and downhearted for them. No one can make me want this program more than I want to drink. I have to *want* sobriety that tiny little bit more than I want to drink — this was how it was for me initially, when I finally did get sober.
I was torn at times, wanting to pick up yet knowing my time was running out. And when stinkin’ thinkin’ took a hold of me in those first years, I found it very hard. Stinkin’ thinkin’ was what the oldtimers in my group called the old ideas that are carried over into sobriety, only to be replaced little by little with new life-giving ones. I was overwhelmed with negativity at times, and creating fantasies so far removed from reality, and the old alcoholic ‘just remembering good times’ thing … so full of that stinkin’ thinkin’ … members would say to me “that’s your alcoholism trying to get you to drink.” That helped a lot — somehow thinking of an ‘enemy’ out there trying to outsmart me took the heat off me, and I wouldn’t give in because it wasn’t a part of *me* … and because if I reckoned that my thoughts weren’t sane ones, it helped not to believe them as gospel!
I’d try out the little tricks I’d been told about — like getting to a meeting, like ringing another alcoholic and sharing what was going on with me, and trusting in the Higher Power that I was now asking for help from. And very often, a strong theme running through my first days was that I’d feel folk were letting me down in one way or another. And my Power has never done that, right up to today. I get all I need, perfect strength, understanding and security from that God of my understanding … stuff that no human can give me.
If I feel I’m being let down, what follows is resentment, anger and self-pity. So, it’s vital for me to not let these things stay. Better still, if I can self-inventory when something happens and see my part in it, and then pray for the other, I’m unlikely to burn up with resentment. I try to respond and think of that other with love. Not easy, and sometimes it takes time. But most of the time if and when I feel let down, it’s an insecurity within me that is demanding too much from someone. And I have to face that and ask for it to be removed.
I practise living in the solution today. Even if I have to *drag* myself into it — like two weeks ago, I had a week of that. It’d been a while since I’d felt so bluesy.
When I lose hope and trust that all is well, it’s a sign I need to pray and meditate, to reach out to another, to get my gratitude levels up again. Get an extra meeting in.
Stinkin’ thinkin’ can pop its ugly head up still and always will. I’m human. But no way like it did before, because today there’s a big shift inside, and I know better. Life is so much easier, even when problems crop up. I can get grateful (list) and turn it around, no matter what it is. I can reach out to someone suffering. I can give it away. I can do Step 10, the spot check inventory. I can get freed up as soon as I recognize the slip in my thinking. And I want to live happy, joyous and free, so I do these things. 🙂
Maybe you’ll share what it was like for you with the baggage of ideas you came into sobriety with? How has it changed over time? What did you find particularly hard and don’t today? I have to say for me it’s the not putting my reliance on another human being but on a Power greater than me. What Bill W talked about — dependency on people as being one of the things he had still clung on to years into sobriety.