Recovery Today / May 2009
The Vicissitudes of Recovery from Drug and Alcohol Dependence as Impacted by Genetic Predisposition, Cognitive Dissidence, Frontal Lobe Impairment, and Chronic Patterns of Rationalization and Projection or:
“Keep It Simple, Stupid!”
Like the above title suggests, there is much to be said for boiling complex information down to the wisdom that resides in a simple slogan. Find a catchy phrase or a set of words that alcoholics and addicts can more easily understand and, hopefully, those hearing it will be better equipped to put it to good use and possibly stay alive. "Easy Does it!” “Let go and Let God!” “HOW It Works: Honest, Open-minded, Willing.” Slogans and phrases like these have helped more of us get through tough situations and make our way through the complexities of a newly sober life than most scholarly articles could ever hope to achieve.
Recently, I came across another set of simple words that caught my attention and fired-up my imagination. The words appeared in a recently published pamphlet* from Initiatives of Change. The IofC are the heirs to the Oxford Group where Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob found sobriety long before founding Alcoholics Anonymous. In her article, the author comments in passing on the process of personal change pioneered by the Oxford Group members. But as soon as I read the three simple words she used to describe their elusive process, I immediately saw the workings of the 12-Steps explained, perhaps more concisely, than they’d ever appeared to me before. Her three words were: "Connection - Correction – Direction.” I hope the simplicity of this three-word-description can simplify the 12-Step process and help us each achieve the change they are meant to bring about.
Looked at in this way, the first three Steps focus primarily on helping us establish a new CONNECTION with a power that can transform our lives. Step One convinces us that we’re facing a hopeless condition of mind and body that we can’t possibly overcome by ourselves. Step Two then invites us to partake in what the Oxford Group people considered to be a very simple experiment. We are to ask ourselves: “Is it at least theoretically possible that there might be a God?” (Not that we know this for sure, but just that there might be!) If we can answer this question affirmatively, then (as alcoholics and addicts) we need to ask just one additional question before completing the Second Step: “If it is conceivable that God exists, then is it also conceivable that He has the power to change us so we won’t take that first drink or drug ever again?" And if we can answer YES to that question as well, then we are ready to establish our new CONNECTION. In the old days, they did this by getting down on their knees in the presence of another committed person and saying, in their own words, what we would call Step Three: “God, if you exist, please help me stay clean and sober!” (I wasted twenty years on Step Two trying to come to “an understanding of God” when the whole process was about establishing a CONNECTION that can often be completed in a matter of minutes.)
Steps Four through Nine now shift our attention to making a CORRECTION. Here we try to CORRECT all the relationships in our life. In Step Four we take our inventory to see how selfish, and frightened, and disconnected we have been. In Step Five we share what we’ve found with this newly-found-possibly-existing-God, as well as with our selves and with another human being. That awful feeling of being so different and so very alone in the world now starts being CORRECTED. For some of us, it feels better than alcohol or drugs ever felt! Then in Steps Seven and Eight we become willing once again and ask this newly-found-possibly-existing-God to CORRECT all the defects of character we have uncovered and that are still separating us from Him, from others, and from who it is we are truly meant to be. (Our job is to become willing and to ask; His job, if He’s there, is to make the CORRECTION that is needed. In Steps Eight and Nine we set about CORRECTING, as best we can, our broken relationships. As we CORRECT them by making our amends, we feel the CONNECTION increase and the promises listed in the Big Book begin to come true for us as well.
And last but not least, we practice Steps Ten, Eleven and Twelve. Here we seek and find the DIRECTION that was so lacking in most of our lives. Daily, we now set aside a Quiet Time in the morning to receive DIVINE DIRECTION for our day and we deepen our CONNECTION through “conscious contact” with the newly-found-possibly-existing-God. As we do this, we begin to hear his “still, small Voice” that resides inside each and every human heart and mind. His voice can now be heard because our CONNECTION is strong and we have CORRECTED the things that got in the way of a clear reception. We begin to “intuitively know” what we need to do next. Meaning and purpose come into our lives. A spiritual awakening occurs. The possible-God has become the experienced presence-of-God. It’s generally not a blinding, white light - but a deepening and simple awareness of who we are and why we are here. We are here to carry the message and to remake God’s world, One Day at a Time - and One Life at a Time.
Connection. Correction. Direction.
Keep it simple – It works … if you work it!
*A Serious Guide to Remaking the World by Jean Brown and published in 2007 by Caux Books. If you would like to order a copy, please write to me and I will forward the link by e-mail.
Send comments, questions and treatment scholarship donations to:
Fr. Bill Wigmore, President/CEO / Austin Recovery / 8402 Cross Park Dr. / Austin, Texas 78754
or email: BillW@AustinRecovery.org