Topic: ACTING AS IF . . .
My name is Louise and I’m a grateful alcoholic, sober through the grace of God and AA today. Welcome to the newcomers.
Tomorrow I celebrate 40 years of living this way. I am filled with awe that I’ve stayed sober and not wanted a drink all this time. Actually, I still had the obsession for alcohol for the first 7 months but I didn’t have to drink. Since then the problem has been removed: “we feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality– safe and protected.” P 85 Big Book. No matter what tragedies have unfolded, I have not wanted to drink. That blows me away because, of myself, I’d be drunk as a skunk at every opportunity. So it’s a case’ of ‘of myself, I am nothing—the Father doeth the works’. Translate that into whatever belief system works for you.
When I first surrendered to my disease, and attended meetings, I soaked up all the suggestions that came my way through meetings and through the literature. I was teachable for the first time ever.
One of those suggestions, given me by my sponsor and by other revered old-timers was “act as if”. No matter how I felt, they said, I was to act as if the opposite were true. If I felt hopelessness, I had to act as if there was hope. I just couldn’t see it –yet.
If I was resentful of my mother, who in my mind was responsible for so much angst in my life, I was to go make her a cup of tea and keep it buttoned. And instead of yelling at her, I’d make my way into the kitchen…
If I felt small and not of importance to man or mouse, I was to ignore that “stinkin’ thinkin’” and act as if I was a child of God and had a right to be here.
If I felt people didn’t like me (well, how could they, I was unlikeable in my head), or didn’t treat me the way I thought they should, I was to pray for them and act lovingly towards them in small ways.
I was told to open my mind to the possibility that my thinking was all skewed. God, that’s so hard when you’re accustomed to believing all the tripe your mind tells you…
A story the great Clancy Imislund often recounted has stuck with me. When he got sober, his sponsor asked him “What’s the colour of that wall?”
Clancy immediately replied “It’s blue”.
His sponsor yelled back at him (Clancy was a pretty arrogant know-all, like I was and maybe you were or are) “Well, I want you to ACT AS IF it’s blue!”
Now if I see a green wall (my old ideas) and am told I’m wrong, that it’s really blue (new ideas) and to act as if that were true, well, that’s pretty hard to do… But I was willing … and still am today. I use this when my head is causing me grief and telling me something that I suspect is not quite true!
These are just some examples. If you were or are like I was, your head would be stuffed with old ideas that kept you a victim. In my mind, I’d been hard done by all my life. Given a raw deal. I clung on to these ideas like grim death.
But the new ingredient in the mix was my honesty, open-mindedness and willingness. With a Higher Power now part of the equation, things began to happen. I began to change. In spite of myself…
I was told I couldn’t think my way into a new way of life. That if I took action, my thinking would follow later! So I’d get up every day, hand my life over, attend meetings, get into service of all sorts (cleaning the AA room was one of the first), go through the Steps with my newly found sponsor and leave the rest to God as I understood God.
I began to act as if there was a Power who loved me, that I was lovable, that I was a good person, that the world really did have meaning only I had missed it due to the deadly disease of alcoholism, that other people really were good for the most part, and that I could be a part of, not apart from. I acted like this even when I didn’t believe it. And I began to see a pattern.
This new way of being began to bear fruit. At least some of the time I’d feel lovable, be conscious of a loving Presence guiding my life, and I’d connect with other people in a way that I’d never really done before. Larger possibilities opened up. Life started to feel as it was precious where before I’d contemplated suicide. And that has been only the beginning.
I’ve heard it said that for the believer in Something, life constitutes an ocean of doubt. . . when life’s problems surround me, I don’t have a certainty about it all. I struggle in that ocean and somehow, so far, I act as if that God of mine is in charge of it all. I’m told that there is a space, an interplay, between my thinking and my actions. My thinking catches up with my actions. I’m rewarded by experiences that tell me it all makes sense. Somehow, acting as if is the only way that grants me access to the truth. This is an action program.
Ladies, I look forward to hearing your experiences of acting as if. But feel free to share on anything you need to.
Thanks for reading.