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You have to give it away to keep it;  A most oft overlooked concept of recovery

June 2017
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You read many of the recovery posts on the blogosphere, even some of the professional stuff, and much of the “evidence based” material (which has been spawned with the sole purpose of Easing God Out), it lacks a most necessary component of recovery:  working with another alcoholic….

It’s summer, 1993 and I’m laying in bed, just 23 years-old, less than a year sober, and I think I’m dying.  Not figuratively, I believe I’m having a heart attack or something.  It’s two o’clock in the morning, I have to be to work at six.  I tossed and turned for the rest of the night, never getting another wink of sleep.  The next day at work, I was a mess.

I called my sponsor and explained what I’d been through.  His first question?  “Why didn’t you call me last night?”

I pointed out that it was obviously too early in the morning so there was no chance I was waking him up… And that’s where he set me straight.  He explained that I had experienced a full-blown panic attack and that those times are exactly what a sponsor is for, and that someone had done the same for him when he was just a pigeon.
I’ve made countless “I need you, man” phone calls and received plenty, because that’s what we do.

At first, feelings of inadequacy and humility limit our sharing with others as a means of “giving it away” and for all but the most precious of snowflakes this is a good thing.  You actually have to possess something worth giving to someone else, after all, for them to accept it.

For those who have read my posts, especially my cycling posts, what is the common thread?  Working with, and in the service of, others.  

Cycling in a club setting is so much like AA’s brand of recovery, I’m almost nervous to explain exactly how close they are in nature.  Every new cyclist to a group leans on that group to ride faster and farther than they could on their own.  At first, a noob’s contribution is vastly less that their seasoned countetparts.  Over a period of years, though, this changes as the cyclist gets stronger and becomes a fixture in the group.  That cyclist does less hiding and more working.  They do more so the seasoned members can catch a longer break after having devoted years to pulling that puppy around courses….  That’s the essence of working with others.  If we are doing it right, we learn to become less self-centered.

This is an excerpt from the Big Book.  Snowflake Trigger Warning!  Your fragile self can’t take reading this, so walk away now, before you melt.

Our actor is self-centered-ego-centric, as people like to call it nowadays. He is like the retired business man who lolls in the Florida sunshine in the winter complaining of the sad state of the nation; the minister who sighs over the sins of the twentieth century; politicians and reformers who are sure all would be Utopia

if the rest of the world would only behave; the outlaw safe cracker who thinks society has wronged him; and the alcoholic who has lost all and is locked up. Whatever our protestations, are not most of us concerned with ourselves, our resentments, or our self-pity?

Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.

So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us!

Interesting, isn’t it?

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5 Comments

  1. saoirsek says:

    Working with a newcomer keeps you honest…true story🙂

  2. Very. I relate to the actor on the stage wanting to arrange everything to his liking.

    Really enjoyed this post, the heavy recovery voice you can take on when you choose to. I’m also glad you found a club to give you the fellowship you’re after.

    I find really good fellowshipnin a weekly basketball game. Fitness too.

    Oh, and I’ve been biking the kids into preschool a few times a week. It’s been good. I’m still a meeting goer as well. But we are more than just recovery.

  3. i liked that bit when your helper said “why didn’t you call me last night?” obviously somebody who cares, and a good guy to have around

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