It has been a while since I have made any reference to the wisdom of 12-step recovery programs, and I found myself reflecting on how grateful I am for how my life in community and in recovery have unfolded as one and the same. I was sharing at a meeting this morning that before I came into recovery, it was as if in my toolbox, I only had a hammer. So I used it for all kinds of tasks, even if it really wasn’t the right tool for the job – it was all I had.
When I started in recovery at the same time as I was starting novitiate, I initially thought that much of what I heard at meetings was a lot of “hooey.” The book was full of non-gender-inclusive language (written in 1939), and there were all these slogans that I thought were not sophisticated enough for one like me. But you know what? God gave me the willingness to listen to these people who, after all, had figured out how to do what I had been unable to do on my own. My “hammer” was drinking, so when I was happy, I drank to celebrate. When I was down, I drank to drown my sorrows. When I was mad, I drank because wouldn’t you if you had to put up with what I had to put up with. When I played softball, I drank because I imagined it made me a better player (less tense/afraid of the ball.) Then I learned about denial, and finally had to admit that the real reason I drank was that I had the disease of alcoholism.
Besides the walking miracles I meet at the meetings, the real treasure for me is the 12 steps, spiritual principles that not only helped me to get and stay sober, but that really have become tools for living life on life’s terms. So now I have wrenches, screwdrivers, saws, pliers, etc. in my toolbox so that with God’s help, I won’t have to use that hammer again, at least for today.