A flip-flop, 180 degree U-turn
Who would have thought? The desire to change that was always imagined really was attainable. How? Just by asking for help, I was guided in a new direction. Ultimately, I am gifted with a journey to experience a drastic lifestyle change of mind, body, and soul that still grows today.
If life was a game of chess, I was in “check“ and was one move away from “check-mate“. Almost 2 years ago, I chose TLC Tallgrass knowing that I could no longer live as an drunken alcoholic. Self reliance failed again, alcohol won, and its’ defeat was getting worse. The obsession to soak in the pain that I was trying to numb with alcohol was only going to kill me and hurt the people who love me. But, how do I escape drinking? I have been able distract myself for short breaks only until I am taking the next swig from a bottle. I knew deep down that I had to do something. I had to ask for help and I finally did.
At Tallgrass I was introduced to guests with the same problem and a desire to get sober. I began building relations with guests and volunteers. We were sober! My first sense of hope was starting to blossom. We had the blessing to listen to many volunteers who came to mentor, to read big book studies. We were surrounded by people who shared their experience, strength, and most importantly…hope. I will never forget the sense of hope that so many volunteers donated so freely. Some voices were so calming and reassuring that our group could almost fall asleep. The volunteers’ voices temporarily disabled the restless, irritable, and discontent minds. I still hear their soothing voices in my head.
Revisiting Tallgrass and sharing my experience, strength, and hope is a blessing in disguise. It is a reminder of where I came from, where and when recovery started as a group, and how important volunteering for the newcomer truly is. Being welcomed back to re-visit a place was also a new experience. During my active days of drinking, I was usually asked to never come back, if I was initially invited! Tallgrass is a spiritual incubator. We get to grow from a new seed that is a God given gift. We become gifted with spiritual tools to walk a new path. We become resurrected with a second chance to live a sober start. We become spiritually “fit” enough to take the next step and fulfill the next commitment as the Big Book suggests. But, I had to do Step One perfectly. Thus, I would NOT have made it this far in recovery without an introduction to the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I could NOT have made it this far by myself or without listening to the many volunteers. Alcoholism WOULD have persuaded me to take the first drink once I set the spiritual tools aside and resorted back to self reliance. I did listen to those who spoke and they all had one similarity. They all came out to help because it is an experience for the volunteer that must be revisited and continued.
With help from others, I continue to repeat the Big Book steps today. I continue to ask for daily help from my Higher Power and spiritual fellows. And I continue to ask for the willingness to help another. Bottom line, I kept coming back to keep coming back. To this day, self-centeredness still exists, but I pray to change. Am I perfect? Heck NO! But, I am trying to learn any “right” choice in life. Anything except to drink or to hurt others with my reckless behaviors. Anything but to die from alcohol. I know the devil has tainted my mind way before I drank, but I also now know that God can change my heart to love and to help. I simply ask for His help and keep faith towards the light.
The first 30 days in Tallgrass is just a beginning. The recovery-based 30 day session will prepare us to practice the suggested actions outlined in the Big Book. The program works, if and only if, we work the principles and steps of A.A. to the best of our ability. 30 days was only long enough to help me realize that a 30 day commitment was not going to cure me eternally. 30 days was just a start, but the longest I have ever experienced. Doing the bare minimum by fulfilling a 30 day “vacation” will not get anyone very far. Alcoholism is a lifelong disease and a learning course that alcoholics do not graduate from. We have a choice to live from it or die from it. With help, alcoholics get to live freely with a choice to not drink today and a choice to learn from today. A.A. gives us a choice to learn from the wisdom of other alcoholics, and hopefully with a chance to help somebody else. Continuous recovery cannot be done alone. Those who try recovery alone will soon fall off path and have to start over, if another chance is given. We all know what alcohol can do, but any person with substantial recovery knows of an alternative way out and will show you if you ask for help or show up looking for help.
Having experienced both sides, I know that the volunteers need the newcomers just as much as the newcomers need the volunteers.
Jason Fisher Alumnus #389