Last weekend I had the chance to attend a virtual retreat sponsored by North Cascade Intergroup. Although the retreat took place over the entire weekend, my schedule allowed me to pop in only for Saturday afternoon.
Finding she had a bit more time following a review of Steps 8 and 9, the speaker turned to one of my favorite stories in the back of the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous), “Acceptance was the Answer.” Some of you long-timers might know this story by its previous title, "Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict." Page 449 was frequently quoted by many in our program for the place to go on "acceptance"; now it is on page 417 in the Fourth Edition.
Our speaker shared frank personal examples of her own beliefs and behaviors that matched those of the writer of this story. Here are a few excerpts that resonated with me:
"When I complain about me or about you, I am complaining about God's handiwork. I am saying I know better than God." (page 417)
Yep - I've had a tendency recently to truly believe I know how to run others' lives (Whose lives? My husband's, daughter's, mother's, for starters). What an ego! And what an energy drain to have to think about and point out what others should be doing! It also seems like I've done a bit too much complaining about what or who isn't ok in my life, when it's exactly the way it should be according to my HP's plan.
"When I focus on what's good today, I have a good day, and when I focus on what's bad, I have a bad day. If I focus on a problem, the problem increases; if I focus on the answer, the answer increases." (page 419)
Just last night after dinner I found myself slipping into the depths of despair. Nothing horrible had happened; evenings can often be times of day when I fall into negativity. Fortunately, I realized I could adjust my attitude, that things would be ok, and I did the next indicated thing, which happened to be cleaning up the kitchen. And after a few minutes, I felt better.
And my favorite:
At the bottom of page 413 this physician describes an old idea, and then later, a new idea:
"In the hospital I hung on to the idea I'd had most of my life: that if I could just control the external environment, the internal environment would then become comfortable. Much of my time was spent writing letters, notes, orders and lists of things for Max, who was also my office nurse, to do to keep the world running while I was locked up."
At the top of page 414:
"Each with the other as a witness, we took the Third Step out loud--just as it says in the Big Book. And life keeps getting simpler and easier as we try to reverse my old idea, by taking care of the internal environment via the Twelve Steps, and letting the external environment take care of itself."
I love that I can become willing to set aside an idea that doesn't work, and pick up one that does. It's that daily surrender of big or small things, and being open to a different result.
We all love a good story of experience, strength and hope, and I am grateful to our retreat speaker for bringing this one back into my view.
Cindy C. – Region One