I love slogans. For my addled brain with the memory of a goldfish, they are pithy, easy to remember and when I receive the willingness, actionable. There are so many that readily come to mind, such as “One Day At A Time”, “Good Orderly Direction”, “Let Go and Let God”, and “Go Easy On Yourself”. While these slogans are terrific, there are two slogans that have become foundational to my recovery and intertwined in my increasingly 12 step way of living. The first is “Doing The Next Right Thing” with the added twist of “Particularly, When No One Is Watching”. The second I cobbled together following years of meetings, listening to speakers in both SA and AA, doing the steps, working with my sponsor/sponsees and general fellowship which I call the “G.A.S.H.” Principle.
For me, prior to entering SA in March 2014, I was powerless over lust and my life was completely unmanageable. My ego was running amok, while drama and complexity ruled me like an iron and increasingly clenched fist. I lost all ability to listen to that inner voice, that intuition, that truth, that message from my higher power. Even though I knew right from wrong, good from bad, safe from risky, I was so governed by my addiction I couldn’t do the next right thing. Everything seemed overwhelming, I was rudderless, my moral compass spinning uncontrollably and I crossed many physical, emotional and spiritual boundaries. My life was completely upside down and I was increasingly closed off. I was truly apart from as the White Book so eloquently describes.
However, through the grace of the SA program, one day at a time, indeed, I am focused on “Doing The Next Right Thing”, particularly “When No One Is Watching”. Such a principle keeps me in the moment, present. I can surrender those two dangerous days aka yesterday and tomorrow. It simplifies my life tremendously. It reduces the pressure to have everything figured out, and puts me back on God’s time and not mine. It also helps me be a better sponsor, husband, father, brother and human being. The “twist” also helps reduce my self-centered, self-absorbed tendencies, deflates my ego and elevates my humility while helping me strive for recovery in all my affairs. All pretext and false ideals are set aside and the “look at me” need has evaporated, thankfully – particularly for those around me I suspect. Even my dog seems more at peace.
The second core slogan for me I have dubbed the “G.A.S.H.” principle. The G stands for Gratitude. It is my antidote to Resentment and Rage, and their close character defect cousins anger, envy and fear. When I focus on what I have rather than what I don’t, the glass becomes half full, and I lack for nothing material. Love and tolerance become my critical codes. When I first came into program my sponsor asked me what I had to be grateful about. When pressed, I said “nothing”. Today, I can’t go five minutes without thinking about all the things I can be grateful for, including the ever so slight or seemingly small things in life. The A stands for Acceptance and is an offset to Anxiety. When I struggle, there is definitely something in me that is amiss, just as the prayer suggests. I spent the better part of four decades violating this tenet, fighting anything and everyone, all to no avail. The sooner I accept all is as it should be, the faster the solution can work its magic. The S stands for Surrender. Surrender is the potion that negates my Control freak blind spot, my need to have a say on everything, solve everyone else’s problems, or judge all but myself. When I surrender, unity with my fellows, family and HP deepens. Finally, the H stands for Humility. At first, the focus on seeing myself as is – both good and bad – was my recipe for easing the risk of humiliation. But over the years, I have refined this to help offset my Ego. Besides, in my head, I can more readily swap R.A.C.E. for G.A.S.H.
By no means do I have it all figured out – if you spent five minutes in my cranium you would run for the hills. However and amazingly, my thinking has never been so lucid. The drama gauge is quiet, my life is gloriously dull and my spiritual connection with my HP is rocketing into the 4th dimension as promised by Bill W in the 1930s. For me, these twin slogans continue to edge me deeper into recovery over sobriety. I am not cured or immune to lust, but Lust is at a low ebb, thankfully, and acting out isn’t the first or last thought of the day.
Bill K, Huntington, NY Sobriety date March 10, 2014