Step 3: Whistling In The Dark

I picked up this journal yesterday and the little piece of foil fell out. I’d been using it for a bookmark back in my drinking days. It’s from the seal on Kendal Jackson Merlot. My fave. I’d know it anywhere. I can still smell that earthly tang, precisely recall the full-bodied juice and feel the warm glow when hit me. Sigh.

Do I miss drinking? Sometimes. I miss it to the extent that I’m still insane. I was not created for self-destruction but alcohol is a one way ticket to that insanity. It waits.

Inside the journal are notes that I took from readings, meetings, and conversations when I first got sober.  I like to process things with a pen in hand. On January 4, 2008 I find that I went to the 7:00 and the 9:00 meetings. The readings chosen each time from the Big Book were both from the same excerpt. When that happens, I can hardly deny God is at work.

Now and then a serious drinker, being dry at the moment says, “I don’t miss it at all. Feel better. Work better. Having a better time.” As ex-problem drinkers we smile at such a sally. We know our friend is like a boy whistling in the dark to keep up his spirits. He fools himself. Inwardly he would give anything to take half a dozen drinks and get away with them. He will presently try the old game again, for he isn’t happy about his sobriety. He cannot picture life without alcohol. Some day he will be unable to imagine life either with alcohol or without it. Then he will know loneliness such as few do. He will be at the jumping-off place. He will wish for the end. ~Alcoholics Anonymous, 2012, pp 151-152

True, so true. Giving up the wine was not automatically making me happy. I was knowing loneliness like never before. I was now unable to imagine life either with alcohol or without it–and this from someone on Step 9.

Anyone in recovery would expect that things should keep getting better or why would people stay with the program? Why, indeed.

I took very few notes, but I was listening during the meeting and these people were laughing, kidding one another and enjoying life. No one else seemed lonely and despairing of life.

One of my notes says, “Get out of the way and God does it.” Not profound at first glance. Trite sounding, even. Someone also said, “Restless, Irritable and Discontent equals Anger”. Ok. The only other note from that meeting is, “Gotta get a God.”

None of this looks very profound now, but for some reason, this is the day that I went back to the beginning of the program and took an official, fall on my face Step 3.

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Alcoholics Anonymous, 2012, p 59

When I returned to the room, another AA guy chose to read the very same passage from the book. It was my time. I was ready to set aside a little of my self-will and look for His will in my life. I had stopped whistling in the dark.

~PS: It seems I wasn’t ready to even think about the need for Step 3 until I’d faced myself in Steps 4 and admitted the mess of my life in Step 5. What was I doing taking Step 3 after Step 9? If you’ve taken Step 3, what was your experience?