A design for living that works in rough going

Expect the unexpected... or discovered the unsuspected?
garden variety
Posts: 750
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 7:39 pm

A design for living that works in rough going

Postby garden variety » Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:46 pm

Hello friends,

Dallas has been a great example of reaching into the toolbox and pulling out the right tool for the right job. With the passing of his beloved sister, this is no doubt a "hard job" that will require work and action - probably at a time when most people would be trying to find an easier softer way out of work. But the book says if the alcoholic "doesn't work, he will surely drink. And if he drinks, he will surely die. Then faith would be dead indeed. For us it is just like that."

I'm grateful for those words that Bill Wilson wrote. But there is more to that part in Bill's story. A couple paragraphs later he says:

"It is a design for living that works in rough going."

I can't speak for Dallas, but my guess is that he is probably grateful for that sentence, like I am. I'd say his circumstances in life over the past year definitely qualify as "rough going", yet he is doing exactly what Bill Wilson described that will allow the alcoholic to survive through those "certain trials and low spots" that lie ahead. If I take a minute to look at that passage again (go to the bottom of page 14 if you want to), I see something sort of "veiled" but it is "ominous".

Sorry for the big words here, but there isn't a better term to describe the "certain trials and low spots" to an alcoholic like me, other than to say something "ominous". Bill specifically used the word "survive". What is ominous about the whole message is that I will, without a doubt (he says "certain"), face trials and low spots. And if I'm not in the habit of enlarging my spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, I won't survive!. If I don't survive, that means I will die. So this whole part of the book gives me, the alcoholic, an ominous warning that I'm doomed if I don't continue to take actions that help others.

The only thing that will get Dallas through this "rough" spot in his life is ACTION that serves others where he must give of himself expecting nothing in return. What a challenge! To give of myself without expecting anything in return at a time that is so heart-breaking and tragic is definietely a tall order! But the book also says "For us it is just like that." That means that it is just as ominous for me as it is for Dallas, as it was for Bill Wilson, and any other alcoholic.

They say in this neck of the woods that sobriety and recovery according to the spiritual principles of AA "is a life and death" matter. I have no doubt because nothing in that "Big Book" is science fiction. It is pure fact backed up by experience.

Over the past week, I've also faced one of those certain trials or low spots - not along the same tragic lines as Dallas, but it was a life and death matter. The book also talks about "our adventures before and after" that "make clear" those 3 pertinent ideas about alcoholism (see "How it Works"). I wish I could say that was a lie, but that one still catches me - even though my life has been pretty serene over the years, there are still "and after" adventures - DANG! - that catch me off guard like early this week.

In a general way I'll say it like this. A threat was made against my life by a fellow who is a mean drunk that went on a 3-day bender. Now I already seen his loaded .357 magnum revolver that he carries because he asked me at another time if I could find him another one like that. He breaks into my house twice last weekend, and I chased him away and told him don't come back. He says he will be back to blow my head off - he says it with a smile because he knows I know he packs a 6-shooter. And if he don't kill me, someone else will, he says.

Well the calm world which was my life suddenly took on a different meaning - and I mean suddenly. There was no doubt in my mind that fellow was fully capable and motivated to carry out that threat. None whatsover, and the Police told me to take him seriously, too. I go to the sponsor, and my support group of guys I call regular. One of the guys is a former detective and works for the county prosecutor. I live in the city, not a suburb, and you want to know what everybody told me? You got to do whatever you have to do to defend yourself. The cop told me the same thing because "paperwork" dosen't stop a drunk or addict with a gun in the city.

So I did what they suggested. I took the actions to protect myself, and I went to meetings and carried on my life working the program of recovery with a 15-shot 9mm semi-auto holstered to my side - with "one in the chamber". The "matter of life and death" was a finger-click away - just a single little bitty switch called "safety".

Nine years ago, I put the same weapon now at my side to my own head. I had quit drinking, but I was an alcoholic with the untreated illness. What was the difference between then and today? Today I woke up and said a prayer, didn't take a drink, and helped another alcoholic. Nine years ago, I didn't have a prayer. I was advanced Grace. God as I now understand Him did not want me to take my own life back then. Just like he didn't want this drunk fellow to take my life this week either.

Now stop and think about this. Can anyone imagine the outcome of this if I was still drinking? Talk about not wanting to "think" about something! I don't even have to think about what would happen if I were drinking today - It's written in the book:

"If an alcoholic failed to enlarge and perfect his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead."

Pretty ominous, huh? Without a doubt I can say "For us it is just like that." Now I also noticed in the book that "it is just like that" and not "it was just like that".

Well today, the "threat" has calmed. My weapon is not at my side today. The fellow called and apologized and promised he wouldn't do what he said. But he also had to ask me what he said and did because he couldn't remember - he was 3 days in a blackout. For a minute, I "wanted" to still be angry at the guy - after all didn't I have the right? But the feeling of relief taking that holster off just outweighed anything else.

I also thought about if I should ever "trust" the man again. Or should I back off and be more cautious? I was reminded at the spiritual level that I can do only two things: forgive him or not forgive him. There is nothing in between. The Power to forgive comes from God as I understand Him, but I also know that true forgiveness doesn't have any conditions. I can't begin to count the times I went to God while sober and sought forgiveness for something I screwed up. I got mercy and it was unconditional. To forgive but not forget is just another way of saying I don't forgive.

So it's back to square one and extending "that hand" of fellowship to the same drunk who wanted to kill me. I'll probably treat him to dinner over the holidays. I pray that fellow will one day want this beautiful life-giving gift that we have. His "survival" does depend on it whether he knows it or not.

Now isn't this the craziest set of "rules" we ever played by?

God bless all of you and remember Dallas in your prayers.

With love and respect,

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Postby Dallas » Sat Dec 15, 2007 4:53 pm

Thanks for sharing, Paul.

:oops: :oops: Be careful with pointing too much light or attention towards me! It tends to shows all of my shortcomings and defects of character! They make a special box for guys like me, when they get special or different! :oops: :oops: :wink:

God, we are so lucky to have this deal!!!

It really is a successful design for successful sober living -- under any and all circumstances and situations.

And, as a bonus -- we have a Fellowship of thousands of friends and strangers -- who are always here to help us.

I think of this often -- but, yesterday it seemed to be a special moment, when I'm talking with a fellow A.A. on the telephone -- and I started thinking about how incredibly awesome it is that we have these principles and guides and instructions for living, and handling and solving problems -- and that we have the Fellowship -- to help us to face any challenge in life that gets presented to us.

I feel so fortunate and grateful, and blessed, to be able to be a part of it, to have it and to be able to use it for my daily living. For me, a guy who can still wonder crazy thoughts like "I wonder if God is punishing me" :lol: -- It sure feels like He's been smiling good smiles at me... to let me be a part of, and to partake of this deal.


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Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 12:03 pm

Postby sunlight » Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:45 pm

Had to refresh this topic because it's so true for me today.

In the maelstrom I am currently weathering, I let myself get so frazzled & upset that I was unable to eat or sleep.

Consequently, I made a mistake at work & had to pay severely for it. Then, I was so distraught about being reprimanded, that I made ANOTHER mistake, worse than the first. :roll:
Thankfully, I was able to correct it before there was a landslide.

But this told me I was in a shakey place.
I knew I needed to perfect & enlarge my spiritual life through work & self-sacrifice for others, or I wasn't going to survive this low spot, trial or whatever you want to call those dung heaps!

Thank God for newcomers. For those who want this program of recovery & are willing to go to any lengths. For those who don't want it & share with us how that didn't work. For those who struggle, stumble & fall & get up again & walk to freedom. For all who allow me to be of service - thank you! Thank you!

Told my sponsor I'd made some stupid mistakes & said, from the pits of the pity-pot, "If you want to throw me in the dumpster, I understand." :roll:

She said, "What'd you do? Drink?" :shock:

I laughed. No! I did not drink!

I may have done something stupid, then, in an emotional hangover, done something even stupider, but I didn't do the stupidest thing of all - drink.

Thank you dear sponsor! I almost missed the gift & grace of being sober today! And how working with others truly does help me. And how real & alive this program of recovery is in my life today.

Man, could it be the grace is worth the garbage? :?: :idea:

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Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 8:50 am

Postby Jools » Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:01 am


Thanx for refreshing this....it's just what the doctor ordered today.

I love watching you apply this program to your life, you have NO idea how much that helps this alcoholic.

Much love,

Posts: 606
Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 12:03 pm

Postby sunlight » Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:49 am

Hi Julie! :D

It's always a happy day when you're on the board!

Thanks for the positive feed back. :wink:

I love how we share the good, the bad, the ugly, our victories & failures,our two steps forward & one step back, but we DON'T QUIT!

This is a big change from how I used to be, cuz I would hide everything so I could look all together & perfect, & convince myself I was, if it wasn't for..... And inside I'd be rotting, cuz I was living that double life the book talks about.

It truly is freeing to see my part, own it, & ask God to help me change.
( Doesn't always feel so swift at the time tho )

We have a new day to live in the sunlight of the Spirit! Go team!

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Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2008 1:44 am

Postby ccs » Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:21 pm

theres my Sunlight !!!!!!! sounds like you are getting your sparkle back !!!
I`m gonna have to put my shades back on 8) !!!!!!
YEAHHH TEAM RAH RAH RAH!!!!!!!! :D :lol:

I luv Ya girl



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Joined: Wed Sep 10, 2008 12:03 pm

Postby sunlight » Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:32 pm

Thanks, darlin' :D

It's people like you who put the spunk in the sparkle! :wink:

Much love, Sun

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