It's not the external things that are unmanageable, although at times they can cause a lot of heartache. It's the inward unmanageability that made me miserable for so long. For me, I felt discontent, out of sorts with myself and others, and generally unhappy. With my disease of thinking, I had to get at the root of those issues that had affected me my entire life. I had to understand what the pain was within me.
For the alcoholic, it is clearly spelled out in the Big Book that a spiritual malady has symptoms like:
- being restless, irritable, and discontented,
- having trouble with personal relationships,
- not being able to control our emotional natures,
- being a prey to (or suffering from) misery and depression,
- not being able to make a living (or a happy and successful life),
- having feelings of uselessness,
- being full of fear,
- inability to be of real help to other people (page 52),
- being like "the actor who wants to run the whole show" (pages 60-61),
- being "driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity" (page 62),
- self-will run riot (page 62),
- leading a double life (page 73),
- living like a tornado running through the lives of others (page 82), and
- exhibiting selfish and inconsiderate habits.
- Getting a sponsor
- Following the guidance of my sponsor
- Talking to my sponsor on a daily basis
- Working the steps with my sponsor
- Being of service to others
- Continuing to take personal inventory daily
- Using prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God daily
I hear people in meetings say that they have been coming for years to Al-Anon and yet, they don't have a sponsor, don't use a sponsor, don't work the steps, and wonder why they feel miserable. This program has so much to offer, if I choose to work it. I may know that I'm powerless but that's just the first step. There are Twelve Steps, not just one.
In working the steps, I learn to trust and accept what I hear in my interactions with other people in the group. I awaken spiritually to parts of me that have been blocked by my character defects. And I continue to grow spiritually through service to others.
So if I'm to benefit from all that Al-Anon has to offer and want the promises to come true in my life, then I need to work the complete program of recovery.