Are You Carrying the Message or Carrying the Drunk??? – Helping others by allowing them to find their rock bottom.
“When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.” – Pg. 64 Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous
“It was very difficult for me to come to terms with my spiritual illness because of my great pride, disguised by my material success and my intellectual power. Intelligence is not incompatible with humility, provided I always place humility first. To seek prestige and wealth is the ultimate goal for many in the modern world. To be fashionable and to seem better than I really am is a spiritual sickness. To recognize and to admit my weakness is the beginning of a good spiritual health. It is a sign of spiritual health to be able to ask God everyday to enlighten me, to recognize his will for me, and to have the strength to execute it. My spiritual health is excellent when I realize that the better I get the more I discover how much help I need from others.” – Daily Reflections, May 23rd
I used to live always telling others I was fine, no problems here, and keep on going with my life. All the while I was full of suffering and the spiritual malady it talks about in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Every person has to have something to believe in and if it is not something spiritual, it will be something else. For a long time mine was alcohol. Alcohol stopped the rapid negative thoughts, numbed the feelings of depression, and quieted the anxiety I was suffering from.
I have experienced some truly horrific and life changing events at the beginning of this year and those events ignited the flames of psychic change inside my heart and my mind. The alcohol was a small piece of the pie in my life. What needed to be fixed, to be worked on, was the horrible way I felt about myself in my head and in my heart.
So today I use the serenity prayer quite frequently. I can only control myself and I have learned to accept that I have no control over others and their decisions. I choose to do the next right thing every day, continue to attend AA meetings daily, spend time with my thoughts, and work with my sponsor through the Twelve Steps the Big Book lays out. These help me keep on the right track of sobriety.
If I want to get out of myself, I need to help others. But, there is a fine line between helping and enabling. It tells me in Step Twelve of Alcoholics Anonymous to try to carry the message to other alcoholics. There is a difference between carrying the message and carrying the drunk. Let that one soak in for a moment. What I have come to realize about those who are not alcoholic, is that they do not understand enabling someone, like me, is the quickest way to get me drunk.
When you give someone a dollar or two every time they are asking for it, because you feel sorry for them, that is the worst thing you could really do for an alcoholic. Those sufferers are the people who desperately need the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and desperately need help with their selfish, self-centered, self-pity and manipulative ways. You have to allow someone to get to their bottom. An alcoholic must be allowed to reach the point of such desperation, such agony, a state of hopeless discomfort in order for us to have a psychic change.
As long as someone is comfortable with their situation, they will allow it to continue. Addicts and alcoholics can withstand and endure an unimaginable amount of pain and hardship to avoid change. In every story I have heard from both addicts and alcoholics, there was always the word yet. “I hadn’t been arrested yet”, “My wife hadn’t left me, yet.”, “I had not been fired, yet”.
This was so true of my own life. As much as I would love to say my rock bottom was 6 months ago, or 6 years ago, it was not. I had to “give away” absolutely everything I had to be at a point where I could honestly ask myself if I wanted to choose to live or continue to choose to find a way to die.
I do consider myself extremely lucky and fortunate that my rock bottom did happen when it did and it was not 6 weeks, 6 months, 6 years from now. I would have never made it that long. I was on a mission that did not include living life in any way. I am so grateful for the time I spent in custody and the furlough I was granted to attend a treatment program. I am also grateful for the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and the other alcoholics that I share the table with. I am most thankful and grateful for my husband. I hope to repair the relationship with him and continue to live in a successful partnership and marriage, but no matter what his choices about that are, I will make certain he knows how grateful I am for his decision to let me reach my bottom.
I cannot change or fix anyone but me. I admit I am powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable every morning. If I hadn’t been allowed to get to my bottom, I would have stayed sick and on the short road to death. I truly believe this to be true of all alcoholics and those suffering any kinds of addiction. It was so true for me.
My life was too comfortable and even though I was entirely miserable and didn’t know how to change that, I was allowed to continue doing what I wanted to do. You cannot water a dead plant and expect it to flourish.
With this being said, I do believe in compassion. Compassion is a noun, and defined as a deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. The wish to relieve it. I wish to see others free from their suffering, but I am not required to take any action further than that. I have struggled with boundaries in my life before alcohol and in my addiction.
Now, living in my recovery, I have made a few changes to better my life as a whole. I have to set and keep boundaries. Boundaries with family, friends, strangers, and especially in Alcoholics Anonymous and with other people recovering from addiction.
My sobriety is at the top of the list in my life today. As long as I keep my sobriety and recovery first, I will always be in a position to make good choices and do great things for myself and others. I am very compassionate to the plight of others, but I will not cross or tear down those boundaries. When dealing with alcoholism and addiction specifically, I must be careful not to enable the addict or alcoholic in any way. I am not helping them if I do. I am not allowing them to reach their bottom, however deep it may be. If I truly care about them and wish for them to have full recovery and quality sobriety, I have to always remember this and sometimes be willing to walk away and separate myself from the situation and the person.