Engage Your Recovery with Zeal.

en·gage –   occupy, attract, or involve (someone’s interest or attention).

capture, catch, arrest, grab, snag,

draw, attract, gain, win, hold, grip,

captivate, engross, absorb, occupy

participate or become involved in.

take part in, join in. go in for, partake in/of,

share in, play a part/role in;

Let me start this by quoting Dr. Bob, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous as he wrote in the Big Book of AA on page 161 from the Chapter, “Doctor Bob’s Nightmare” –

“If you still think you are strong enough to beat the game alone, that is your affair. But if you really and truly want to quit drinking liquor for good and all, and sincerely feel that you must have some help, we know that we have an answer for you. It never fails, if you go about it with one half the zeal you have been in the habit of showing when you were getting another drink.” 

zeal – great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.

 passion, ardor, love, fervor, fire, avidity,

devotion, enthusiasm, eagerness,keenness,

appetite, relish, gusto, vigor, energy, intensity

       Ok, now I have the definitions out of the way – Let’s get busy! I came into the rooms of recovery many years ago, in fact it was in 1979 when I attended my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. That was 36 years ago. In that time I have attended thousands of meetings, with-in  Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, and  Narcotics Anonymous. I would love to say I have 36 years of clean and sober time but that would not be honest. What I have is 36 years of exposure to the only solution I have ever known. However, most of the last 36 years were not fashioned in the way Doctor Bob prescribed in the aforementioned quote.

       Just what do I mean by that? Well when I was using and drinking it seemed as if all of my efforts in life were just in doing that; drinking and using. I was totally engaged and had an extra supply of zeal  in doing so.  When I drank it would exhibit passion, ardor, love, fervor, fire, avidity,devotion, enthusiasm, eagerness,keenness,appetite, relish, gusto, vigor, energy, and  intensity! When I was using would  have a great sense of urgency, interest, attraction, captivation. My mind and actions were captivated, engrossed, absorbed, and occupied. I was devoted, enthusiastic, and committed.

         The history of my addiction and alcoholism involved an obsession, a preoccupation that drove me into oblivion and landed me wherever it wanted to, whenever it wanted to. For those folks that do not understand, I could only describe it as insanity. I was willing at anytime, anywhere, to do, say, feel, think, act, lie, steal, embezzle,  convince, con, spend, forge, deal, perpetrate, cajole, and manipulate anything or anyone, including myself, to meet the needs the desires of my incessant hunger for the next hit, drink, or fix.

          All of this I did and would do while I was clean and sober!!!!!!

         William Duncan Silkworth, M.D., (1873-1951) was an American medical doctor and specialist in the treatment of alcoholism. He was Director of the Charles B. Towns Hospital for Drug and Alcohol Addictions in New York City in the 1930s.

        Dr. Silkworth wrote two letters in the chapter titled “The Doctor’s Opinion” in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. In one of the letters on page xxix he writes the following

      “Men and women drink essentially because they like the effects produced by alcohol. The sensation is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one.  They are restless, irritable, and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks – drinks which they see other taking with impunity. After they have succumbed to the desire again, as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, they pass through the well known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink again. This is repeated over and over again, and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of his recovery.”

          Here is some more characteristics of a person like me when I’m sober – on page 52 in the book, it states:

         “We were having trouble with our personal relationships, we couldn’t control our emotional natures, we were pray to misery and depression, we couldn’t make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, we couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people”…….

            There’s more good new about me on page 151 –

         “For most folks, drinking means conviviality, companionship and colorful imagination. It means release from care, boredom and worry. It is joyous intimacy with friends and a feeling that life is good. But not so in those last days of heavy drinking. The old pleasures were gone. They were but memories. Never could we recapture the great moments of the past. There was an insistent yearning to enjoy life as we once did and a heartbreaking obsession that some new miracle of control would enable us to do it. There was always one more attempt – and one more failure.

         “The less people tolerated us, the more we withdrew from society, from life itself. As we became subjects of King Alcohol, shivering denizens of his mad realm, the chilling vapor that is loneliness settled down. It thickened, ever becoming blacker. Some of us sought out sordid places, hoping to find understanding companionship and approval. Momentarily we did – then would come oblivion and the awful awakening to face the hideous Four Horsemen – Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, and Despair. Unhappy drinkers who read this page will understand!”

     The next paragraph defines the insane thinking I suffered from for so long. Check it out;

          “Now and then a serious drinker, being dry at the moment says, “I don’t miss it at all. Feel better. Work better. Having a better time.” As ex-problem drinkers we smile at such a sally. We know our friend is like a boy whistling in the dark to keep up his spirits. He fools himself. Inwardly he would give anything to take a dozen drinks and get away with them. He will presently try the old game again, for he isn’t happy about his sobriety. He cannot picture life without alcohol. Some day he will be unable to imagine life either with or without it. Then he will know loneliness such as few do. He will be at the jumping-off place. He will wish for the end.” 

       Having had that exact experience, I find it a bit difficult to read,  after all the years of torture and suffering. Alcohol has left a unrelenting footprint on my soul.  Thank God for the men who cared more for my life than they did my feelings. The had not one problem telling me the real truth about my condition as an untreated alcoholic-junkie!!!

          The people who saved my life showed me the solution in their own lives. Why would I not want the same?????

What is wrong with me. Why can’t I get this thing? Why can’t I stay sober? Why can’t I stop sticking needles in my arm? How can I ever be happy? Why can’t you just leave me alone? Why are you doing this to me? Why does this keep happening? Why do I want to die?????

           Addiction and alcoholism were my masters. I was a slave to their cunning grip, squeezing my soul and spirit into worthless dust. Blown into any direction they wished. Taking and removing every hope and dream, no more love , or comfort. Only misery and pain.

         My friends showed me that if I were to let go of my old ideas and open my mind up to a new way of thinking, then maybe I might have what they have. They told of a surrender, a giving in process, conceding the fight. Their guidance led me to an understanding, that what they were describing, was in fact real and could be mine if I were to pay a price and a honest desire to do so.

         The process was explained to me and it was made very clear that if I were to put forth the same effort and zeal, with enthusiasm as if I had just been cured of  a terminal disease and that if I were to engage my recovery as I had engaged my addictions, then I could enjoy the same peace and happiness that they were experiencing. I was given a new direction to follow that did provide me with just that, and much, much more.

         I needed the discipline they spoke of.  I had at one time, thought of discipline as being punishment. Today the discipline of recovery is the guiding force of my very life. If I were to pay attention and focus, with the same intensity as I did while I was using or getting ready to use, then I would reap the benefit of a fulfilling and meaningful purpose in life.  I would gain access to a Power that , they said, would change everything! My friends were absolutely right. One moment it was one way, and then all of a sudden, everything changed, as if my reality in  the universe  has transitioned into a new realm. They called this a transformation, or a spiritual change. It was the psychic change the good Doctor Silkworth has spoke of many years ago.

           One of our promises that the recovery process produces is what we call, “a new freedom and a new happiness.” I describe as this. Today I go all day long with a new desire, hope, meaning, and purpose. I go all day long without the thought of drinking or using, but more miraculous to me is that I go all day long not even thinking on how I am not going to drink or use. Wow. Dont think about drinking and don’t think about not drinking. The problem has been removed.

          All that was needed was my participation in my own recovery. Just because the wind quit blowing doesn’t mean the storm is over. It just might be the eye your standing in. It seems that when we quit drinking and using the problems would go away and we would be able to regain our status in life, but this is not so , if you suffer from what I have suffered from.

I have learned to engage recovery. I can not give  addiction an inch, no wiggle room for this ex-hopeless dopefiend. Today I am a dope-less hopefiend. New purpose and meaning fill me with passion. My name is Chris . I am an alcoholic and drug addict. I stand along with my friends on the firing line of life ready to reach out to the still lost and broken.I will always tell them the truth and offer the solution that was passed on to me.