Today I have been sober for 35 days.
Yesterday was quite a busy day for me, which is why I didn’t post anything.
The day started with my morning AA meeting in Pattaya, and as ever, it was a good meeting.
After the meeting I had my first official meeting with my AA sponsor. We took my car and drove up to “Buddha Hill”, parked up, and took a short walk to a large shelter which overlooks the hills and some gardens.
My sponsor had previously asked me if I was been prepared to go to any lengths to give up alcohol, and I replied that I was. In all, he has asked me this question three times, the last time just before we started on “Step One”, and each time I replied in the affirmative.
Then we started reading from the “Big Book”, (the nick name for the AA book upon which the organisation was founded and uses as its principal source document). Step one reads as follows:
1. “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
We discussed this at some length, but there is no doubt that I have long since accepted that I am indeed an alcoholic, and am powerless over alcohol, so within a short while, we moved on to Step Two, and thence to Step three, which I have set out below:
2. “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
3. “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him”
Of course these are very big steps for most people, especially for those of us, like me, who are or have been agnostics or atheists.
In AA, God can be interpreted as any “Higher Power” in this universe that an individual wishes to identify with. It does not have to correspond with any formal definition of God that we have come to understand from established religions.
AA will teach you that some form of Spirituality is essential for an alcoholic, if he or she is to achieve long term sobriety. Eminent psychiatrists such as Carl Jung have endorsed this view, and in Jung’s opinion, the only hope for a chronic alcoholic is for him to embrace spirituality and to rebuild his life according to a new set of moral principles.
Of course I have known about these steps for some time, and have heard other alcoholics ‘share’ at meetings how they came to believe in God or a Higher power as they understood Him; how this belief had transformed their lives, had brought them to joy and harmony with the world, and effectively stopped their craving for alcohol. Some of these ‘sharers’ were ex convicts, admitted thieves, muggers, wife beaters and disreputable people from the very dregs of society. In the first instance they had all totally rejected the concept of any kind of God, but in time came to realise that it was the only way forward and finally embraced a new belief and a new life which has helped to keep them sober for many years.
Please understand that I am not talking about any form of organised religion. I am talking about a personal belief in a “Higher Power”, whatever that may mean to each individual. Organised religion of whatever colour or creed plays no part in an alcoholic’s embracement of spirituality. It is rather a new, moral way of life that is directed by ‘something’ out there, in our universe.
I have listened to much and read much in the last few months, including some compelling books on spirituality, and as a result, I was able to inform my sponsor that I felt I was now ready to accept steps 2 and 3. I also told him that I was just a beginner, and that I had a very long way to go on this road to true spirituality, but at this point in my life, I was ready to accept and believe in the concept of a “higher Power” and that I was ready to make a decision to turn my will and life over to “Him”.
Then, for the first and only time in my progress along the ‘twelve steps’ road, we both got down on our knees and read a small prayer which reflected my acceptance of God, and my willingness to turn my life over to him.
I realise that many of my readers will start to cringe when they read this, and will think that in one way or another I have “got religion” and that I will now try and ram it down everyone’s throat.
Well I can assure you that nothing is further from the truth, and may I remind you that my journey towards spirituality is a personal journey, and has nothing whatever to do with any religion known to man, and the last thing I ever wish to do is to try and convert anyone to my way of thinking on this subject. I am reporting what happened – purely and simply – because it was my stated aim when I started this blog to be honest in all matters pertaining to my alcoholism, good or bad, crazy or sensible.
Later I will write more on the subject of spirituality, as it is a very important subject, and integral in the recovery programme of all alcoholics. I have started to open my mind to some new ideas, and as a result, I have learned more about spirituality in the past few months than I have in the rest of my life put together.
The meeting with my sponsor concluded at this point, and he asked me if I had noticed any changes in myself. I shook my head. He said: “Well I have. Your eyes are glowing, and for the first time you are looking at me straight in the eyes. You never did that before”. I realised that I was indeed looking straight at him, and that I was smiling as I spoke, which is something I rarely do. He told me that many people, after they sincerely complete steps two and three, will invariably appear different to others but the individuals themselves will not be aware of these subtle changes in their behaviour and countenance.
We returned to my car, and I dropped my sponsor off and returned home.
In the afternoon, I returned to Pattaya and looked at some Condos for rent as I am now proceeding with my plan to move out this month.
I saw a couple of very nice places; one, a studio on the top floor of a condo in Jomtien with a partial sea view, and another, nearby, which was larger and had a separate bedroom, a huge balcony with a magnificent sea view. It was more expensive, but it was definitely the favoured one, and I indicated my interest to the owner. He wanted a year’s lease, but I knocked him down to six months, and also got 5,000 Baht off the posted monthly rental. I told him to make out the lease to commence on 15th October. Later this week I will sign the lease, pay a deposit and that will be that. The die will be well and truly cast on my new beginning.
Later, I drove to the airport to pick up Bob, who returned from his two day trip to Vietnam and by the time we had returned to Pattaya and had a meal, it was very late, and I had little problem in dropping off to sleep.
I forgot to mention that my wife, her son, and the house boy/cook/ baby sitter all took off yesterday to their home village for the Buddhist festival which is being held across Thailand today. So Bob, I and the dogs, had the house to ourselves. It was almost too peaceful!
Tomorrow I will continue with Mobi’s Story, God willing.