Tuesday, December 2, 2008

12th Step - Having A Spiritual Awakening

Last night I went to a meeting - and the topic was on the 12th Step;

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

I sat quietly in this meeting. I sat quietly - which is some what unusual for me - because I couldn't think of anything really "smart" to say (my ego wants to sound smart and impress others), and because I was tired. I realize now, that when I am tired, I am not my best and I am probably not very coherent. Now, you might say, "That's what you learned in Al-Anon???" Yep. It's one of the simple things, that in the past, I would not admit to, and "gut it out" and say just about anything so that I could sound "on" and not tired. Today, I can keep my mouth closed (not always) and just chill.

But this is not what I want to talk about today.

I want to share this:

Having had a spiritual awakening. Have I? Many shared that nothing came down from the heavens and hit them on the head and has given them an "Aha" moment or a great light came and provided them enlightenment.

I sat thinking in the meeting as others were talking - about all the things that happened that I cannot explain. The cardinals that came to my old home and then showed up at my new home and did some strange things and about a story of a cardinal in a meeting before the first hearing (something that I have not really revealed in this blog - that might appear as if I was was a little nuts - so I won't). The events that led me to a new job - a job that requires no travel versus the job I had before which was about 60% travel, that I had to scale back to 20 to 30% travel. And finding a new job - in fact several - in the midst of tough times. About meeting new people who are in a situation like mine.

All of these events above and others - that I consider - simply miraculous. Yes. I can say that word.

Finding God (or MY Higher Power)
But that is not my spiritual awakening. Even finding "God" or my HP in this program is not "Having had a spiritual awakening . . ." - at least not to me - although it could be.

The "although it could be" (above sentence - just reread that for a moment) - is part of what I am referring to.

I have tried to stop analyzing things and stopped thinking too deeply - but this is not always true.

Thinking Too Much (Part of the Spiritual Awakening)
The stopping of analyzing things IS part of my spiritual awakening. It is the little things that take me into my egoic mind and starts to reek havoc. The train wreck that comes about from thinking and more thinking.

Becoming More Conscious
I used to think I was pretty conscious. But this disease affected me a lot. It affected me minute by minute and covered me up with layers of thick blankets to where I could not tell what was real or illusions (my mind over thinking). I had layers of "denial" and "pretending everything was just swell."

I am becoming more conscious. I am in recovery. I am - seeing things differently. This is coming from a guy who has thousands - and I do mean thousands of books, audio programs, and video programs that HAVE HELPED me, and who thought he KNEW and KNOWS.

I remember two conversations at my wife's rehab center that are germane to this topic with one of the counselors. He said - I think it was the very first meeting; "We've all read all the self help books. But it is not until you are in a room like this." We were in a circle "discussing" - or "sharing" - much like Al-Anon.

In Recovery (and Admitting It!)
The second comment came from the same individual. He said, "Joe and his wife are in the early stages of recovery." Now for the record, my wife, was still drinking and later admitted it. I knew it - and I resented that statement about "She was in early in recovery" because my heart and mind and intuition were all screaming "She's drinking and won't stop." I wanted the truth to be on the table. I now know I am not in charge of her recovery nor am I responsible for the being the "truth teller." This is NOT my job.

This is easy to say NOW, now that I am no longer living with an alcoholic - an active alcoholic - one who is provoking and criticizing. I let you know this - because I would be lying to you if I said I could handle alcoholism again and live with it. I can't. I won't. But this is ME. I am not as strong as others are. I can admit that now. Even though - I believe a person who has the disease - can be the most beautiful and compassionate and most spiritual person. I can't because - I am too afraid of "what could happen."

But back to the point - I was - and still am in recovery. I hated that word. At the time, I "knew" there was nothing wrong with me. Duh. Denial? Yeah, maybe. Maybe more like ignorance.

Awakening, Slowly, Day By Day
The 12th Step is more around the "awakening" part. I am never fully "awakened." I am continously awakening - awakening from sleep - gaining consciousness - little by little, one day at a time, seeing things differently and seeing me, and how I see things as affecting how I see things and interpret events.

I am becoming more at ease with myself and others. I still rankle at when someone judges me. So I am not recovered on this part. But the program, that "spiritual awakening" for me is a continuous process of seeing things differently and using the previous 11 Steps as a foundation for me to live by - in and out of the program.

Not Part of the 12th Step (But Maybe it is . . . )
I hope this makes sense. But, there again, there is part of my recovery. Hoping this makes sense for you is - well, er, is, hmmm, "none of my business." Yep. Sounds harsh to an Al-Anoner. But truly, it is - "out of my control."

Boy, saying this, does sound weird and - frankly - uncaring. But that is my problem - how I think I sound to others.


Progress, Not Perfection said...

Hi Joe,

Thanks for your post. What a great lesson for me. Never really thought about it like that. I went to church for the first time on Sunday in about 8 years and the pastor was talking about being asleep. Walking through ourlives half asleep- never really dealing with or waking up to our issues, the goodness in our lives etc. After reading your post her sermon really just clicked with me. "Awakening spiritually" from sleep. Being able to see my part... accept it and appreciate all the good.

Thanks so much. I love seeing how each of us has so much in common. And how our own HP as we understand him can speak to us.

Peace and Serenity,

Syd said...

Minding my own business is a strong part of the program for me. And I like to carry the message to those who want it. The 12th step holds a lot of promise for us in recovery.

Catherine said...

One of the interesting things about that step is that it doesn't refer to THE spiritual awakening. In other words, there isn't just one single moment of awakening. I find that I "wake up" to different things with nearly every meeting.

And I hear you, Mr. Syd: not everyone is interested in hearing about what I've learned.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe,

My Name is Charles. I was touched by what you had to say about the 12th Step. You really expressed a bit of humility and honesty (obviously :) ). For me, the steps were not "steps" as much as they were akin to a business plan. Due diligence, market research, blah blah.. translates almost literally. I went through my 31 days through to an honest 5th step.. and then practiced the first 5 for now about 8 months. Last week I read the 6th through 12th steps and broke down. You can "organically" ( in my humble opinion ) progress if you maintain the basics of the serenity & Lord's prayers. I will add for the record and for what it's worth that I am more agnostic than christian (or any particular declaration of affiliation), so prayer for me is to the ghost writer out there, rather than any one God in particular ;)

Thank you again