Thursday, November 20, 2008

Step Twelve

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."

Just writing that calls to mind all the sages over the years who have emphasized one word or another in this step.  Many of them.  Having HAD.  as THE result.  we TRIED.  carry this MESSAGE.  to ALCOHOLICS.  to PRACTICE.  in ALL our affairs.  And of course, there are those who have said that this steps says we should have AFFAIRS.  (ha ha. )

I'll take the step just as written, thank you very much.  

Yes, thank you very much Alcoholics Anonymous.  For the fellowship.  For the program.  For the spiritual awakening I had.  For the gifts of practicing this program.  For the life that I have been given.  For the ability to carry the message to the still suffering alcoholic.  For the ability to actually sponsor other women.  For the women who have been willing to sponsor me over the years.   

What's the best way to say "Thank you?"  To go forward and pass it on to others.  We don't spend a lot of time looking back, we look forward.  What a joy it is to be able to sit with another woman and crack open the big book and to watch the light come on in her eyes.  

I could tell you countless stories of the "old days" when we actually used to make 12th step calls.  We would pile into a car and drive across town because someone had called and asked for help.  Most of the time it was a wild goose chase, but we stayed sober and that is the true gauge of a successful 12th step call.  I haven't gone on a 12th step call for years.  Maybe the newer people are doing it, that is OK, they are the people who should be doing it.  

I could tell you about all the women I have sponsored over the years, but I think it sounds arrogant.  So I will skip it.  Let me pick one little odd story that really showed me something about being a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and living large - and at large.

I was sober 12 or 13 years.  I was going to meetings regularly and feeling pretty settled in my sobriety.  On one Saturday afternoon, I went to the grocery store.  When I came out of the store, there was another car parked so close to mine that I could not get in my car.  I thought of climbing over the passenger seat and getting in that way, but then there still would be the problem of backing out without hitting the car about an inch from mine.  I was really angry.  I wanted to leave a really bad note on the car.  

Instead I wrote down the license number and walked back into the store.  I had the service desk page the person with the car.  I was standing, tapping my toes, arms crossed, waiting for the jackass who parked like that.  Well, along comes a handsome man about my age.  He says that is his car.  We walk out to the parking lot.  He is so apologetic when he sees how close he has parked to my car.  And then he says "You're a friend of Bill W., aren't you?"  I just felt deflated by that.  And then he continued... "You're name is Mary, isn't it? - and you knit in meetings... right?"  Yep.  He had me.  He probably heard me tell a room full of alcoholics what a spiritual giant I am... (actually I hope not) and he knew me.  I didn't know him - if you go to enough meetings for enough years, there will be people all over the place who have seen you at a meeting and if you are like me, you probably didn't notice them.  We had a lovely conversation, he moved his car and apologized profusely.  We hugged.  

And I left there thinking about the grace of God.  The grace of God kept me from scrawling a nasty note full of obscenities and leaving it on his car.  The grace of God kept me from swearing at him when I saw him at the store.  The grace of God kept me from being a total jackass - which is what I wanted to be.  

I thought about the fact that I never know when I am being an ambassador of AA.  I don't know who has seen me in a meeting over these 24 + years.  I have been in a lot of them.  I tend to be noticeable.  People tend to remember me.  I need to behave myself.  

I never know when I am a walking example of this program in action.  In the grocery store.  At the Post Office.  In the workplace.  In my neighborhood.  Everywhere I go.  I need to be an attraction, not a hideous warning.  

Thank you for reading this for the last 12 days.  I have not really enjoyed doing this.  I thought it would be a nice switch from writing about my daily life and my little quirky stuff.  I didn't realize how much I enjoy writing all that stuff, and how much I would miss it.  I will be back in all my glory tomorrow... to talk about my running, my knitting, oh! and the Christmas lights I put on my front porch last night.  My granddaughter's birthday.  Cooking stuff.  An approaching trip to some lovely town in Texas to see some lovely friends!!! Etc., Etc.... all as the result of these Twelve Steps.

Thank You God.  


Laura said...

What a great story to wind up your 12 step sharing. I've enjoyed and learned from you and am grateful for the chance to "know" you in this way. Thanks for all your well written words...they speak volumes.

Lou said...

This one was my favorite.

Oh, did I already say that about one of the other ones?

Scott W said...

Let's see...there is a promise that states that God is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. You were considering giving up blogging. Now you have done an exercise that has shown many people, some of them newcomers, some not even in our beautiful program, how the steps work. And that exercise showed you how much you love blogging and now you are looking forward to returning to your old writing style.

Something seems to be working out just fine.

Can't wait to see you!

J-Online said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience working through the 12 steps. It was very insightful and encouraging as I walk through this new way of life. I just completed step one. I admire all the work you have done to become the wonderful woman you are today. You inspire, help, give love and show through actions the principles of AA. You're a true blessing from Godand I'm grateful to know you! jen

big Jenn said...

What a great story. I really needed to hear that.Thank you so very much for this. It has been very important to me as I begin sharing myself with all of you. I feel blessed to have begun blogging at the same time you decided to do this! Thank you for practicing the principles in your blogging affairs! jeNN

Banana Girl said...

This has been a wonderful 12 days of 12 steps. You continue to amaze me. Thanks. J.

dAAve said...

I tend to enjoy whatever you write about.
The high temp today will be 76, tomorrow 56.

Kathy Lynne said...

I've heard " we practice these principles so we don't have affairs!"

I love this story about the grocery store and it is a good reminder. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy writing about your experiences but am very appreciative that you did. It has helped me a great deal. I guess my lesson is that even when I don't want to do something to help another alcoholic, because it interferes with my daily life or what I enjoy, the Nike phrase "just do it" comes into play because that's what its all about isn't it? Thank you again, xo

Pam said...

You did it!
You made it!
You helped a lot of people (well me at least)!
I look forward to your traditions study next year (hee hee)

Gabriella Moonlight said...

This is a brilliant post! I loved th story and it seems to always be so true that it is attraction, not the hideous warning, I liked that line! Thank you for your 12 steps, I have really been amazed by them.

Thank you,

Hope said...

I am always disappointed to get to the end of your posts. I want them to go on forever.

Thank you for sharing so freely of your experience, strength and hope.

This post reminded me of a statement made by Ghandi "Your life is your message."

The grace of God is a beautiful thing.
God bless you.

AlkySeltzer said...

WOW! What a 'finish', to another 'beginning'...because we "continue to practice them..." RIGHT?

Following is a copy of my comment on another blog thisa morning:

Steve says: "YESSSSS" I totally agree, if ya haven't followed Mary's Twelve Steps for the past Twelve Days, go there NOW--that's an order?--

This is SO GOOD...and it's FREE! It's worth lots more than any twelve days in a $1,200 per day rehab, IMHO. And I MEAN THAT!

It's more AA than I could get in a "Twelve-Step Weekend" in some resort. Got it? OK!


AlkySeltzer said...

Mary, when are you going to that town in Texas, or is that a secret?

Syd said...

I've enjoyed reading this post and the others on the 12 steps. To me that is the stuff that I like to read. I like reading about people's lives too but the thoughts and ideas and principles behind the program are what I remember and absorb. Thanks for the service that you did by writing about the steps.

♥Shann♥ said...

thank you Mary Christine for sharing your ES&H on all the steps, it was soo good to read your expirences and relate with my own.. thank you

Happy Thursday

♥Shann♥ said...

thank you Mary Christine for sharing your ES&H on all the steps, it was soo good to read your expirences and relate with my own.. thank you

Happy Thursday

Anonymous said...

Well done. Your grocery store tale reminded me of the expression one of my sponsors use to say often:

"be careful what you say, because you never know who's listening."

6 mo. ago or so I was driving to work when some jackass in a work van pulled up beside me and started waving and carrying on; I (spiritual giant that I am) decided to flip him off since I was minding my own business...I did so...and once I did it I realized that it was a friend of mine from AA who had recognized me and was trying to say who was the jackass again?

Talk about learning the hard way!

Thanks for doing this MC.

-Dave from Maryland

Mary LA said...

Thank you so much for making the time and effort --