"For us, material well-being always followed
spiritual progress; it never preceded."
They Can Recover
"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." ~ Walt Disney
Yes, there really is a recoverING period, however short. Every recoverED alkie has experienced one. Even straight, Big Book thumpin’, fully recovered ‘fanatics’ of Twelve Step spiritual awakening have experienced the “ing’ in recovery. It is a temporary experience, not to be embraced for long - but it is most certainly real.
It is a spiritual gestation period that precedes spiritual awakening. When someone genuinely makes that vital decision to accept the spiritual Twelve Step solution proffered through the Big Book, "Alcoholics Anonymous" there is an initial flow of power, felt or not - right around Step Three; then it begins to be felt as a definite flow of Spirit - usually between steps Seven and Ten.
Frequently, by the time amends have been completed this sense of "new life" is quite strong*. By the time steps Ten and Eleven are in full daily swing, there is no doubting the presence of this New Power. The inverse is also true since when Steps Ten and Eleven are “let up on”, like the electric flow through a step down transformer, this Power diminishes eventually trickling down to nothing. Recovery unravels and it’s back to the psychic sleeping chamber complete with bedeviling fear, depression, anxiety and even a relapse back to EtOH could be in the making. The Stream of Life is once more overwhelming – just as it was before, even if it is now without a liquid solution.
RecoverED can last a lifetime. RecoverING should be just a matter of days.
That's how it was with Bill Wilson - like it is with all of us who actually follow the directions delineated in the spiritual "How To" book, the Big Book, "Alcoholics Anonymous" and resist the egotistical temptation to water it down or to thicken and gum it all up with our own additives.
RecoverING is that short period of convalescence marked by sobriety but rarely with much serenity or peace . . . . yet.
Just because someone says they are “recovering”, wears a shit eating grin and sports $150 dollar Nikes does not mean that they are. Unless they are also deep into the process, have completed inventories and are proactively immersed in completing amends - it is not very likely.
"If he is, and is still trying to recover, he will tell you about it even if it means the loss of his job. For he knows he must be honest if he would live at all" (146:3)
It is always wonderful working with alcoholics during that brief stage when they are "trying to recover" even when they 'relapse'. Remember, AA's number one co-founder, was loaded to the gills as he was beginning his recovery. He drank right through the first several Steps.
As Bill Wilson endured his New York style Bridge and Tunnel Recovery treatment - getting loaded in Brooklyn - detoxing in Manhattan - he did all of it right through his first Three Steps.
On the heels of his Step Two experience where he "came to believe” that God would remove the obsession to drink, he experienced his miracle of healing. Bill's sanity is restored he begins his spiritual journey and never drinks again - all right from the from the discomfort of a hospital detox bed.
There was no “Go back to Step One” for having relapsed. There was no “You’re not ready” or “Get some sober time under your belt before I can work with you" coming from Ebby Thacher.
Hell, no. Ebby had chased Bill’s scrawny, gin soaked ass up the West Side of Manhattan to the detox facility and continued to work with him bedside. There was movement forward through a step process that those two men did not even yet realize was in development ; just as Bill was in development – recovering.
When we do. .. we do! We progress. There is growth. It is a faith thing, a “lamp unto my feet” experience. (If I may borrow from the Christian scriptures to make a point.)
Of course Disney was not talking about anything as vital as the life and death urgency arising out of chronic alcoholism. He was talking about 'moving forward' for the sake of satisfying human curiosity.
Even ol' Walt was aware that new paths are constantly opening for those of us who move forward and do not balk.
For us it not the ambitious path to material achievement; instead it is a spiritual path leading to the discovery of God. Not even relapse is justifiable enough reason for balking. If anything, it ought to be fuel for acceleration. We never sit on our thumbs. We launch. We are rigorous. It is dishonest to find excuses for not proceeding; for delaying and making slow tedium out of a spontaneous spiritual event that happens to us; not by us.
Any proposal suggesting anything less than full recovery - is just plain Mickey Mouse.
Coming: We can predict who is and who isn’t going to make it. Yes we can!
Peace and Love,
Danny S – RLRA
Real Live Recovered Alcoholic
* Balking on the completion of amends quashes this experience. Trust me. If you aren't completing amends - usually OK'd by some similarly stalled AA sponsor - you are screwing yourself out of this awakening experience as surely as your sponsor has screwed himself out of it too.
** Another is: "Our women folk have suggested certain attitudes a wife may take with the husband who is recovering" (122:0)