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Coming to believe is not enough, it’s just the beginning. Of more necessity is the continued conscious contact with that power, so it becomes a practical reality not just a theoretical notion in the mind. Lack of power is my problem, not lack of faith. I need to take actions to access that power – recovery actions and commitments that I do regardless of how I feel about them. For me, this is a daily morning step 11, speaking to other alcoholics regularly (including my sponsor), attending regular meetings, working with sponsees. I have to act my way into a new way of thinking/ a better life, I cannot think my way into new ways of acting. Recovery is for do-ers, not thinkers.

Neglecting these actions guarantees my ego resurgence. Hell, even doing these things my ego remains powerful and indestructible. Signposts of a triumphant ego are frequent worry, conversations in my head, other people always being wrong, extreme self-will run riot and accompanying obliviousness, seeing the whole world as unfriendly and hard-edged, and being asleep in my own life. The reason I need a sponsor is because wrapped up in self I am blind to all this. I need someone else to point out the insidiousness and deviousness of my ego, someone to whom I give spiritual consent, because the self is louder than god.

As I frequently document, my notion of a higher power is definitely fluid and sometimes flaky; sometimes some days my connection is scarily weak. But what definitely resonates with me is this idea that deep down within all of us is an indwelling divinity/ a voice of reason/ a conscience/ a higher self. It is essentially my responsibility to try and connect to this. What obscures me from this, however, is me! (Big book, p55)

  • Calamity – the chatter in my head, the voice of my ego. It tends to sound loving, seductive and therefore believable! But in truth it is a “problem-finding missile” – a broken record of excuses, justifications, attacking and criticism. By tearing everything and everyone else down, my ego is puffed up and enjoys the illusion of power. Fear, panic, worry, resentment all feed the beast.
  • Pomp – again, the ego itself. My self, my judgments, my perception. I am so full of me I am unteachable.
  • Worship of other things – the obsessive turning of my consciousness towards something that isn’t my higher power. This can end up feeling like someone has stepped on the oxygen pipe to my soul.

I have a disease of chronic discontent. I chase after external shiny things to fill up my internal squirmy spiritual hole. I look to outside things to fix my insides. I look for the transformative power of the booze in people, relationships, jobs, accolades, accomplishments etc etc but the euphoria is fleeting and the shine wears off. What I must realise, and be constantly reminded of, is AA’s transformative power. It may not always be immediate and it may be intermittent, but it is long term and guaranteed if I continue to take the next right action.

***Largely taken from a Bob D. workshop in Berlin, September 2015