I’ll skip the drunkalog here except to say that I was
a pretty desperate drunk
when I came into the rooms.
I needed help. I wanted to stop drinking. This thing called
Spirituality, however, was the farthest thing from my mind
I didn’t need Spirituality; I needed sobriety. At the time, I didn’t realize the correlation between the two.
Yet in completing the 12 steps I
had what we call that “spiritual
awakening”, that change in my
character that the program brings about. And with that change came the emotional and mental sobriety that the Big Book told me I’d receive if I thoroughly followed the
steps. I never had the “flash of light” experience, but rather the educational variety of spiritual awakening that William James refers to. It happened over time, and is happening to this day.
I’ve got a problem here though in that I can’t honestly define what spirituality is. I often hear in the rooms that it’s a
personal relationship with my higher power. I suppose that’s part of it. I think the essence of spirituality involves the concept of a higher power, but the
overall spiritual experience is more than just that. I had a hell of a personal relationship with God after a quart of vodka, or at least I thought so at the time.
Bill Wilson writes “Most of us
think this awareness of a Power
greater than ourselves is the essence of spiritual experience.” Indeed. But that doesn’t solve my problem. What is spirituality, or at least how do I explain my spirituality? I’ve thought long and hard about this over
the past few years and have
concluded that I can’t define it,
nor can I explain it. I tried to cheat and Googled the
definition of spirituality.
There are about 4,6000,000
hits – so take your pick. An explanation of spirituality? About the same. No help there.
So I guess it’s got to be a personal thing, best described as the destination reached through a journey through the 12 steps. For each of us it’s going to be different. I’ve been able to
reconstruct the process of my spiritual awakening to some degree. I can also explain the character changes that occurred. That’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to being able to explaining what my spirituality is all about.
As I said in Part I, my biggest issue was self. I was my problem. And I say that in retrospect as I certainly didn’t know it before I came to AA.
I think started my journey in the
first two steps. I admitted I was
powerless. A crack in the armor
had appeared. For once, I had a
problem that I couldn’t fix. I needed help. I believed that a power greater than me existed. Ah! I was starting to remember the stuff from all that religious education. And not only
did that power exist, but it was
capable of restoring me to sanity.
Damn! The chink in the armor
started to widen. The self began
to crumble. The journey had begun. And not only could this power do for me what I could not do for myself, it would!
All I had to do was ask.
My first lesson in humility. I was an imperfect human being after all.
Then I had to get up close and personal with my imperfections. I had to do a personal moral inventory. A fearless and thorough moral inventory. Facing that scared the shit out of me. For the first time in my life, I had to take an honest look at myself and I was afraid.
I did not want to face the character defects that defined me, for in doing so my self image, my great ego, would be shattered. But I knew that if I was ever going to get and keep
this sobriety I so badly wanted, this inventory was essential. I was my problem. I had to be fixed. And in working through this agonizing (at the time) process, my spiritual awakening continued. Baby steps sometimes, but always moving forward.
After I worked (and reworked and reworked) my way through this inventory, I finally had an honest picture of myself.And it weren’t pretty. My second lesson in humility was not a pleasant
one. Damn ugly, in fact. Bad enough I had to discover all these defects, wrongs, shortcomings,
whatever. I then had to
admit the damn things! To myself, no problem. And God already knew them, so again no problem. But another human being? My humility was getting a graduate degree.
As painful as this process
seemed (and at the time it was pretty damn painful), it had to be done. I couldn’t change my character and experience a spiritual awakening unless I knew what needed to be changed. And here again I’m faced with my powerlessness. I needed to turn to my higher power for some help.
I needed to rid myself of all my
character defects. I couldn’t even
hold on to a few that I sort of enjoyed.(character assassination comes to mind).
Not only did I have to ask Him again for help, but I had to humbly ask Him. My humility was doing post-doctoral work.
(Stick around. More will be revealed in Part III)