“How do ya like them apples?”

Dorothy: [Reaches to pick an apple from the apple tree, the tree grabs the apple and slaps her hand] Ouch!
Apple Tree: What’d’ya think you’re doing?
Dorothy: We’ve been walking a long ways and I was hungry and… did you say something?
Apple Tree: She was hungry! Well, how would you like to have someone come along and pick something off of you?
Dorothy: Oh dear! I keep forgetting I’m not in Kansas!
Scarecrow: Come along Dorothy. You don’t want any of those apples!

Ouch – I remember getting my hand slapped like that. And actually being told that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” – a reference to the alcoholism in my family. In spite of that, I drank anyway. The consequences of my drinking never really crossed my mind until it was too late, and by then it was all about the pain, the resentments, and the regret – not a fun way to live. Like Dorothy, all I really wanted was to go home. The trouble was… you can never really go home again.

I’ve been wanting to return to Oz for a while now, but haven’t been motivated to come online to write. Two posts in the last two years, one of them telling myself that it was time to get back to the writing, haven’t been indications of much journaling activity. And to tell the truth, although I’ve started written journals at least a couple of times as well, it just wasn’t the same as being able to come here and type away. Procrastination? You bet! My favourite character defect… which I’ll get around to dealing with tomorrow… 🙂

But tonight – tonight is 9 years since I went to bed drunk for the last time, and it’s been my custom to write something out each and every year around my anniversary. And the last two years have been full of awe and wonder, supreme sadness and absolute joy, and cloudy confusion and crystal clarity.

I’ve often said that the difference between Knowledge and Wisdom is Experience. And that my favourite line in the 12&12 is on Page 36:

“Power flows just where it is needed. Silently and surely, electricity, that strange energy so few people understand, meets our simplest daily needs, and our most desperate ones, too.”

For most of my adult life, I wasn’t ready to “get it”, to know the difference between admitting that I had a problem with alcohol and accepting that I was an alcoholic. I hadn’t experienced all of the consequences of my drinking, hadn’t hit my bottom, and hadn’t asked for help from anyone. I couldn’t connect the dots – I couldn’t make the connection.

Nine years ago tonight, I was ready, I was powerless to stop drinking, and I reached out for help. And received it. And asked for more help. And received it.

And struggled with the concept of a Higher Power. Until one night at a Step meeting, I read the above line about Power flowing just where it’s needed and a circuit closed – “CLICK!” –  I frantically flipped back to Step 1, remembered that I was Powerless  – “CLICK!” –  flipped forward to Step 2, where it said that if I was struggling with the concept of a Higher Power, that all that I had to do was practice the rest of the Steps as enthusiastically as I could – “CLICK!” –  and then flipped back to Step 3, where it said that Power would flow just where it was needed, and that if I wanted emotional sobriety as well as enduring sobriety from alcohol, that all I needed to do was practice the rest of the Steps – “CLICK!”.  And the connection was made. That was one of my first spiritual awakenings, or psychic changes, if you will (at least it wasn’t a “psychotic change” as I heard a newcomer describe it yesterday!!!).

I’ve heard it said that the Steps are a series of surrenders – surrendering to my disease, surrendering to a Higher Power, and finally surrendering to my Humanity. And I agree – but they are also spiritual tools which have lead me to a series of spiritual experiences:

  • my acceptance that Power would flow when I needed it;
  • the physical “CLICK!” and freedom I felt in my head the first time I did my Step 5;
  • the self-confidence I was given back when my love gave me a medallion which reminded me “To Thine Own Self Be True”;
  • the absolute awe, peace, and happiness that settled over me on the altar at my wedding two years ago;
  • and the gift I was given in attending the Family Program at Elliot Lake at the beginning of the summer, where I was able to forgive and be rid of many of my resentments.

I don’t know if these experiences have made me any wiser, but the knowledge I had of all of them refused to budge my problems but an inch. Somehow, because of these experiences, it seems that my tree has been shaken and all the bad apples have fallen on the ground.

I was accused once of not having any spiritual hunger, and while I felt hurt that anyone would say that about me, it was true. But now I AM hungry for more – I want a diet which includes a better conscious contact, spiritual fitness, and along with a dash of happiness, a purposeful life.

My sponsor defines humility as “remaining teachable”. Well, I’m remaining willing after 9 years – anyone want to teach me how to make apple pie?

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