I woke up this morning with my 5th Step behind me.
While I did meet my sponsor for almost two hours today to tie up loose ends and review the work we’ve done thus far, the truly hard part of the 5th Step had been completed. It felt strange.
After the general icky-ness of yesterday, today feels different. Those feelings of being a truly wretched human being have diminished, but, their weight is still palatable and present. But today, that weight feels like conduit to change. The filth that seemed to cover me, head to toe, yesterday, the dirt of the past, today seems like less of a stain. Today, I want to be different.
Is this it? Is this the relief that I’ve heard so much about? The reward of the 5th Step? Well, I suppose it is, at least for today. The desire to change is something big, especially when it means changing so much of who you were. With this insight to who I was, before taking ownership of my life and my wrongdoings, I can see how far I’ve already come. As I see it, I started changing for the better the second that I set foot, with willingness, in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.
People talk about 12 Step programs in relation to recovery, whether it’s from drug use or alcohol abuse, but, once you are in the rooms of recovery you discover that this program is so much more than saving yourself from substance abuse. In the rooms of AA, the 12 Steps are described as a design for living. And, having done the work I’ve done so far, I can say with no reservations that the design for living is really the true gift of the program.
Those of us with the strongest of wills can put down the drink or the drug and live clean. I believe that. But, the 12 Steps really allow people to take themselves on, to clean out the gutters of their lives so far beyond the substance issues that brought them to the point where they felt they had to in order to survive.
In AA we joke the everyone should work the 12 Steps, people in recovery, and regular people everywhere, the world would be a better place. And, I truly do believe that. But, I accept that it will never come to pass that all people in the great, wide world would voluntarily subject themselves to this rigorous process of self exploration and self improvement. And, while there are certainly many people in my life who are not in recovery that would most certainly benefit from a process like this, I know too that it is not my place to decide on or advise such a path for anyone but myself.
Today, though still slightly shell shocked from the gravity of yesterday’s reality, I am suddenly overwhelmed by the sincerity with which I, myself, feel I can truly change. It’s not just the willingness any longer, but, the genuine desire. It’s not just the need to stay sober in order for my life to run smoothly, but, the confidence that if I remain on this road, I will continue to find happiness, continue to see things improve, continue to be of more help and value to others.
How I came to sit in this reality today after sitting in the reality and the sad awareness of my faults only yesterday, I’m still not sure. But, I have learned not to question the how and why of AA. It works. That is all I need to know or say about it. If this feeling is relief, I’m not sure. But, I am sure that I am living in a different world today than I was yesterday. And, it’s a better world.
The dust of the 5th Step has settled, and the road ahead is long, but, I am on it. And, what’s more, I want to be on it.