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  • Ashley P

The Greatest Gift of All: The Spiritual Awakening

In my first few weeks in Alanon, I remember an old-timer pointing out that the 12th step starts out, “Having had a spiritual awakening…” Having had - there was no, you might, or you could, or even - its highly likely that you will. It was a given, a promise of sorts. “…as a results of working these steps.”

At that time, I didn’t know what a spiritual awakening was - I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to have one. However, I did know that I was miserable. I recognized that my life was unmanageable. I knew that there were many days that I didn’t know if I could go on living - not if this was how life was going to feel. I was “stressed,” depressed, totally and completely obsessed with an alcoholic. “And if they would only…” fill in the blank, I could be happy. My happiness, sadness, anger - my entire emotional state centered around this person. My world revolved around them.

Prior to Al-anon, I remember going to my doctor and crying about the state of my life. He recommended anti-depressants and therapy - I was enraged. Everything around me was the problem - not me. Why was I the one that needed to change? If everything in my environment could change, I could be happy again. But the truth is that I didn’t remember when I was last truly happy.

I wasn’t happy for the first few months in the program either. Matter of fact the first six months in the program were some of the most emotionally exhausting months of my life. I didn’t know how to do life. I came into this program in a frenzy of denial. I lived in a fantasy which was highly preferable to my reality. I could not do life on life’s terms. I desperately needed to manage, manipulate and control every situation. I was in the business of outcomes. I suffered from a disease of perception.

Gently and slowly this fellowship has taught me to replace problematic thoughts, attitudes and behaviours with thoughts, attitudes and behaviours that work. I have learned to care for myself - “You first, after me.” I have learned that “No.” is a complete sentence. I have learned to, “keep my sails out of other people’s wind.” I have learned that when I don’t know how to solve a problem - that I do nothing; because maybe, “it’s not a problem to be solved, but a truth to be accepted.” I have learned that I have choices. I have learned to focus on all the beauty in my life. Why would any Higher Power bless me with more when I can’t appreciate the treasures right before me?

There is so much wisdom to be gained in this program, in these rooms, through these steps. My life has given me experience, my Higher Power gives me strength, this program gives me hope and these 12 steps have given me a spiritual awakening. This program has taught me a new way to live.

I am so grateful for the gift of desperation that brought me through these doors. I am so grateful for the depth of pain that I experienced. Without desperation I would have never found Al-anon, and I may have never found myself. This pain, “was the price of admission to a new life.” Viktor Frankl suggests that “suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning.” Without the pain I have experienced, I could never sit comfortably with a fellow traveler in their depths of despair.

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the results of working these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.”

Ashley P.

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