“Do I believe that I need to change?”
Yes, I need to change, RE: Step 1 – I am not happy!!
“Do I accept that change means I must think/feel/act differently?”
Change means that I must think/feel/act differently or else this would be but a hollow gesture. My primary focus in this regard is to be more forward-looking, less of a whiny sentimentalist, one only interested in life that’s already been lived. I need to see today and tomorrow to make them better than yesterday.
“Do I know people who have made comparable changes that seem quite radical?”
Yes, I am aware in an admittedly removed sense that this program has and continues to work for people, with Russell Brand being my most familiar case. I would like to establish more intimate connections with other established 12 Step workers.
“Is this change likely to be easy and driven by ideas I already have, techniques I already use and support systems that I already have access to?”
Effecting the change I seek will require a departure from the techniques I already use and it will not be easy. I have started the process by removing myself from enablers and subverting my more caustic mental tendencies but more work needs to be done – this is a matter of upkeep and sustained effort. That’s how it works and it does work.
“What is my conception of a Power greater than me? Is it nature? Is it consciousness beyond the individual? Is it the power of people coming together in the pursuit of a noble goal? Describe your personal understanding of a power greater than yourself.”
I believe a power greater than myself lies in the natural expression of the human genome. An expression that is diverted, controlled and otherwise intentionally ill-served by modern power structures. I believe a power greater than me lies in understanding that I feel powerless in my life because to live a standard western life is to play someone else’s game, an unnatural sort of game, or at least a game of abusing nature. I believe that a power greater than me is what’s written into all of us and is there to be connected with only by the individual of clear mind and surrendered purpose. This is my higher power.
“Do I have doubt and prejudice about spirituality and the power of a new perspective to solve my problem? What are those doubts and prejudices?”
I understand spirituality to be separable from religion and for this reason I am at ease and welcoming of such a pursuit. I do not posit to know the extent of understanding that can be derived from such a pursuit but I am ready to start my journey.
“What is my conception of a personal Higher Power? Describe it here.”
I am recycled energy; a blip in the timeline. I am only important in that I do with my blip what is important to me. For this reason, I want to be engaged and wakeful in my time, not a bleary-eyed passenger but the purposeful conductor of my consciousness. I feel great capacity for connection with the people around me but am only sometimes personally available to harness this power. Regardless of what the purpose may be, I wish to be a part of it, as I know the capacity is within me.
“Can I now accept there is a power greater than me at work in this cosmos?”
For consciousness cannot be accounted for as human invention, nor do we know how it moves between bodies, we must be more than a series of individuals.
“Do I know people who have changed their lives and live according to spiritual principles who are connected, happy and real?”
I do not know such spiritual beings but I would like to. Perhaps Gary Toope (a philosophy professor) is my closest example.
“Is this how I’d like to be?”
I would like my future self to more closely resemble Gary Toope’s presentation and perspective. He does not seem to be disoriented by the daily fanfare of modern life. He is in command of his mind and that allows him to pursue and embody a life that is important to him, a commendable quality in any person.
“Do I know people who have engaged with a new Power and used these techniques to induce revolutionary change in their way of living and thinking and have found a new peace and direction?”
Maybe. Or maybe I associate myself with people who are either none too concerned with how they live or none too willing to do anything about their problems. Perhaps time will reveal those people in my life inclined to, and willing to work for, such change. Perhaps through my own efforts I can inspire those around me.
“Is this what I want?”
Yes. I may not need such a change right now, as I rest privileged in the pillow of my parents’ support, but I do want to change now. Better to change when it is comparatively easy and a choice than when it is necessitated by changes in my external environment. Or worse still, not change, find the pillow pulled away, and learn just how difficult and far from peace and happiness a life lead through intoxication can be.
“To reiterate, is this how my life is now? Or am I struggling with relationships? My emotions?”
I am certainly far more helter skelter in my mind than the balanced, pensive, souls I idolize. I have flashes of clairvoyance but then, once again, I return to the dark brood of my mood. Using serves only as barrier to the existence I seek.
“Do I lack purpose and drive?”
I do lack purpose and drive. Not that I need a quest ordained in divinity but there are things I’d like to have done that are too easily superseded by compulsions to drink and use. Oftentimes I find myself intoxicated for no better reason than I didn’t know what else to do with my evening.
“Am I creating conflict and chaos?”
In the past, I have created great conflict and chaos outwardly, although these days it’s largely internal – still there though, and still damaging.
“Even beyond my primary addictive behaviour (drink/drugs/food/sex/spending/technology) are things hard?”
My primary addictive behaviour makes things hard that would not otherwise be. My life has no other superfluous dramas, such as chronic illness or being homeless, that carry difficulty by default. In other words, I have no excuse.
“Am I getting depressed?”
I been depressed! It’s an ocean of swells and, although I sometimes sputter, I always remain afloat. Even when I tried to drown, life would not leave me. I guess if I’m stuck here it’d be better to take full, dry, breaths, as opposed to those smokey chokes and poisonous gulps that have sustained me thus far.
“Am I afraid?”
I am afraid mostly of remaining addicted and thus not getting what I want out of life.
“Am I helping others?”
I help others less than I hurt them – not a good look (to see in the mirror).
“In other areas of my life have I exhibited behaviours that if repurposed could serve me now?”
Certainly some such behaviours as making people laugh or offering strong advice have made me feel better in a generally less destructive manner than drugs and alcohol. Practicing these behaviours and feelingly resultingly rewarded would surely result in a dampened experience of loss from giving up drugs and alcohol.
“Have I kind of worshipped drugs…?”
I have worshipped them. At points, I’d only leave my house to embark on the pick-up pilgrimage. I’ve sacrificed a great deal to them. The plate is my alter, my nose the connection to meaning. I’ve sung songs of their glory and defended my beliefs above all else. My use a ritual within which I find myself. It’s a sick sort of comfort – like the zionist who refuses to leave his war-torn land.
“Can I see that this impulse applied to something less mundane, materialistic and shallow may motivate change?”
Such dedication applied to a pursuit of true meaning could part seas and level mountains. Certainly a change worth working for.
“In fact this problem I have could be seen as the misdirection of a positive impulse if I look at it differently, couldn’t it?”
Not only could this problem I have be seen as the misdirection of a positive impulse, but that is in fact how the snowball started. I was idle in life, just going through the motions; a video game addict. I was sad then too, and felt there should be more. I elected to try new things, diversify my experiences, hopefully find a more meaningful use of this blip of life. I found drugs and they opened my eyes to a whole lot – but I was greedy. I was not tempered in my approach and once the floodgates opened I quite quickly found myself drowning. New experience gave way to whipping routine as my addictive tendency grew a new head. However, I never forgot the purpose of trying – to defeat idle sadness and live a life of meaning. That is why I write today, I have not given up in my search nor on myself. It is with a positive impulse that I embarked on this journey and it is with that same positive impulse that I will move past it and closer to that actualized life of meaning.
“Can I connect to this love within me that I sometimes misdirect?”
I am connected to this love within me now with a clarity previously found foreign; its articulation and inscription has made the message clear, as if piecing together a grand puzzle for which there was no box set.
“Can I connect to the love outside of me that I see in others?”
As I love myself more and more I find myself more and more ready to be loved as perhaps now I feel I deserve it or am worth it.
“Can I connect to this Power that I see elsewhere in my life?”
I am likewise situated to connect to the Power described previously.
Freed from my bindings of child to addict, I am ready to take on a new way of being that has been the shape the power of nature intended for me all along. I am ready to be lead to the truth of me.
I found this step to be trying beyond anticipation. In the absence of solid examples of successful 12 Step performers and spiritual revolutionaries, I felt myself to be standing at the foot of Mt. Sobriety with a hazy notion that there must be attainable plateaus along the face – for I’ve heard tale passed down of people climbing the behemoth – but lacked confirmation in the faces of fellow climbers looking back to me, inviting me along. However, in this isolation is where I learned reliance on the Power within my nature. Ain’t no mountain high enough to keep me from getting sober, from getting to myself, babe. Forgive the cheese, but I am white and I do love it.
The point is, no matter how daunting the task and how vague the approach, with the end goal firmly held in mind it is conquerable and that the power to overcome lies within you. I know I was not always an addict, and I know other people never become one, so it follows, logically, that potential for a sober state is present. Furthermore, the path is not so obscure as it may appear from the base of the mountain, in fact, the life I want is ready for the taking, just so long as my decisions support that want. If I want to live a sober life it’s as simple as never using, and that’s a choice entirely in my control.
Want a beer? Yes. Want to be sober? Yes. Want a beer? I guess no then…
And just like that sobriety is achieved – no magic necessary (and certainly no specialty climbing equipment). So long as the goal is cemented and properly prioritized, achieving it is a matter of no more than one step at a time, and just like that, I’m on to Step 3!
**Following the framework presented in Russell Brand’s “Recovery”.