Usefully Whole – Grapevine Article December 2009 by Mark S.

I believe there is a correlation between my peace of mind and my efforts at Step Twelve. If peace and serenity are what I am seeking, what is it I am willing to do? The destruction of self comes at a price. I have to participate in my own recovery through prayer, through self-sacrifice and through service to others. Perhaps the heart of Step Twelve is the word “tried.” For nearly each problem presented in the Big Book, a solution is also given. Trust God. Clean house. Help others. These are our mantras. Repeatedly in my sobriety, when I have tried to carry the message of AA to another suffering alcoholic, sober or drunk, I have been amazingly lifted up. Perhaps it is because I am aligning myself with a mission of service or purpose, as outlined by those who came before me. Early on in my sobriety, I was sponsored into service. What was made clear to me was that my wanting to do what was being asked was not required. These actions of AA saved me numerous times when the demons of my mind began to attack me, to tear me down and keep me small.

When I came into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, I did not have much to give and less of anything anyone wanted. Rotten was going out and rotten was coming back. The seeds I was sowing were those of selfishness, resentment, fear and dishonesty. My thoughts were either on yesterday, which often led to “pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization,” or tomorrow, which often meant fear. One analogy I connected with early on in sobriety was that of the orange. What comes out of an orange when we squeeze it? Why, orange juice, of course. And the reason orange juice comes out is because that is what is inside. It does not matter if I smash it with my hands or a hammer, squeeze it into a vise, cut it open with a knife, or drive over it with my car–orange juice comes out because that is what is inside. And so it is with me. If I am reacting with fear, selfishness, resentment and dishonesty, it is because that is what is inside me. It has nothing to do with what is outside of me, and everything to do with what is inside of me. Amazingly, as I tried to practice the principles of our program, what began to flow from me were courage, other-centeredness, love and honesty. Ultimately, I began to feel usefully whole, as is promised. Our twelfth suggestion is all about showing up. We get to try to carry this message with another alcoholic. We get the “privilege” of working with others. For me, it meant the difference between a good life and a great life.

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