Throughout the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous there are several promises. Some of them are better known than others. Before I had gone through the twelve steps, the only ones I had heard of were the famous ninth step promises. Those promises along with numerous others have come true in my life as a result of doing the steps.
1. WE, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and woman who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body (forward to the first edition)- Wait, What? Recovered? I can recover from alcoholism? Upon some further reading I learned that the word recovered was referring to recovery from a hopeless state of mind and body. This was really hopeful to me! I was absolutely suffering from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. First of all, my mind was broken. I spent a lot of my time thinking about my next high or my next drink. When I wasn’t consumed with obsession over my drinking and drug use, I was thinking about myself. My mind was also broken in the sense that it was constantly lying to me. Everything I thought, I believed. Lies like; you can have just one, it will be different this time, or maybe your not even an alcoholic are just some examples of the lies my mind told me and I believed. My mind was broken and I had no idea. The second part of that was my body. My body had nothing to do with my alcoholism right? Wrong. Once I put a substance in my body, something called the phenomenon on craving occurs and I have no idea when I am going to be able to stop. This is something that happens to me because I am an alcoholic. After learning these things the promise of recovering was very hopeful.
2. But, there exists among us a fellowship, friendliness, and an understanding, which is indescribably wonderful. (Page 16)- I remember on a previous attempt at sobriety I got heavily involved with the fellowship and I still could not stay sober. From beginning to work the steps I learned that doing the actual step work, paired with the fellowship was key to recovery. Connecting with other alcoholics is a key in my life that is as the book promises indescribably wonderful. My entire life I felt different than other people. I always experienced a lack of connection with other people. Today, a very important element of my life is the connections I have built with others. Between my relationship with god, and my relationship with other people I have never had to feel alone again.
3. There is a solution (Page 25)-This was another promise in the big book that was just hopeful enough for me to continue on with my step work. As I was working the steps with my sponsor, there were some times that I wanted to quit. This was a line in the book that kept me holding on. I held on because I so desperately wanted to recover, and I needed to figure out the solution in order to do that. That glimpse of hope kept me on the path of recovery long enough to find out what that was.
4. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.(Page 25) There were so many things that I could never accomplish. Some of these include staying sober, being honest, connecting with other people, having healthy relationships, not being constantly angry, not having to react to everything etc. I did not know how to deal with life on life’s terms. I did not know how to deal with a happy event, a sad event or even an eventless day without picking up a drink or a drug. I was not too excited about having to build a relationship with a higher power, but I desperately needed to find another way to live. I needed to find a way to handle the situations which used to baffle me. A power that was not me was that answer. As soon as I became willing to believe that I wasn’t the higher power I needed, and that there was something else out there my life began to change. God truly accomplishes for me what I could never do by myself.
5. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs. (Page 60)- This promise is also known as the twelfth step in the program of recovery. A spiritual awakening is simply a change in the way I react to life. It is a change in the way I think and behave. It was everything I needed in order to recover. This spiritual awakening was something I could have never achieved on my own. I had to have a higher power. The solution to my alcoholism was a spiritual awaking that has changed my life in so many ways. As #5 says, it has allowed me to be connected to my higher power and have him accomplish things for me that I could have never done alone. The second part of this step/promise is about practicing these principles in all our affairs. From my experience, if I try my best to do that I remain happy, useful, kind and loving.
6. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn. (Page 63)- This is one of my favorite promises in the big book. It’s a long one, but I will never forget the first time I read this paragraph with my sponsor. It had only been five minutes since I had learned how selfish and self-centered I truly was. I had spent most of my life and my entire sobriety thinking that I was this unique selfless alcoholic. It was a huge shock to me when I learned about my behavior and how selfish the majority of it was. Thankfully, just a couple of paragraphs later I read these promises. I was suddenly lifted up with hope. I had hope that I could recover and could have these things too. I can happily say, these promises have come true for me.
7. If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations, which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves, (Page 83-84)- These promises are the most well known in the big book. Many AA meetings read these promises at the beginning of meetings. I remember in my first few months of sobriety hearing these read and I couldn’t understand why they were not coming true for me! As it states, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. That means I have to do some work before I am able to experience these promises. I will never forget sitting at that same meeting and hearing those same old promises and realizing they had all come true in my life! It was an amazing and powerful experience that I will never forget. If the only thing I had gotten from doing the steps was the desire to stop drinking and drugging I would have been thrilled. Every single promise above has come true in my life and continues to be true as long as I practice the spiritual principles from the twelve steps.
If you had told me five and a half years ago that I would be happy, I would not have believed you. I always thought I was special and the twelve steps would not work for me. I was wrong and I am so grateful for those who believed in me before I could believe in myself.