December 12: We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it

Topic for the week:

I’ve been thinking a lot about the third promise – we will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. For me, there would be no AA if we chose to shut the door on our past, active alcoholic lives. It’s through sharing our experiences of what it was like while drinking that someone who’s trying to get sober will perhaps think, ‘Well, they drank like I do and if they got sober, maybe I can too’. And for those who are sober, hearing another alcoholic’s story often helps to reinforce the belief that they are an alcoholic, they don’t want to go back to the living hell that’s active alcoholism, and that Alcoholics Anonymous provides a viable program for living without alcohol.

I haven’t had a drink for many years and believe one of the reasons for this is that occasionally I get a flashback of one of the many horrendous, embarrassing, and sad episodes in my active alcoholism. I inevitably shake my head and wonder HOW did that happen? No one in their right mind would do what I did, yet I did, and these days I’m grateful I remember because it brings to the forefront of my mind the power alcohol had over me…as it states in the Big Book, ‘cunning, baffling, powerful’ – without a doubt!

While I certainly wish a lot of the things I went through in my active alcoholism didn’t happen, there’s nothing I can do about changing those things. Putting a positive spin on things I can say that everything I went through got me to the point where I was willing to accept my alcoholism, which saved my life. I actually don’t want to shut the door on my past alcoholic experiences as they are such powerful reminders of what I can expect if I choose to pick up a drink…they scare me, they warn me, and they protect me in a way. But I choose to remain sober not only because of what I DON’T want to have happen to me. I remain sober and follow the program of AA because it gives me the chance to live a full life, to experience the other promises, and to connect with people in a way I never could while drinking as I was so wrapped up in myself.

Openly and honestly sharing my past experiences helps to remind me of what it was like in my active alcoholic hell, what I don’t want to go through again, and how much I’ve changed in sobriety. And just as importantly, it can help other alcoholics understand their own active alcoholic experiences, relate to being an alcoholic, and find strength in knowing they can live life – a good life, maybe even a happy, content one! – without alcohol.