Saturday, 27 February 2010

First Floor, Powerlessness, Unmanageability, Going Up!

The Twelfth Step suggests, firstly, that we try to carry this message to other alcoholics, having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, and then that we try to practise these principles in all our affairs.

In AA today, this first element is carried out in great part through the vehicle of sponsorship.

There are many models of sponsorship. Stalin running the Soviet Union is one. As my friend Tom says, with similar results, at times. Then there is the long-suffering Samaritans call-centre model. I've been at the receiving end of this type of sponsorship, and the result was a deepening of my self-absorption, and the perverse satisfaction of having taken someone else hostage in it. Then there is the preacher leading his flock to the New Jerusalem. The land ultimately settled is sometimes not as 'green and pleasant' as the vision would promise, however, and there can be a separation from the rest of AA—or the rest of humanity—and I'm reminded of the creepy preacher from Poltergeist II who leads his followers into an underground cavern where their souls are trapped for eternity.

The image which, right now, best reflects the role is lift attendant.

I am not the power. I am not the light. I just know how to operate the lift, because I was shown, and I can show you the twelve buttons for each of the twelve floors. And I can take you up to the twelfth floor, the roof terrace, where you can see the whole world from a single vantage point, the air is clear, and you are totally free.

If you want to stay on the ground floor—floor zero, be my guest, but I cannot stay down there with you for long. I have a job to do. If you do not want to come up in the lift with me, that is your business. Please make way for someone who does actually want to use the lift. The lift is here, ready, once you are sick of the lobby.

If you think there's anything else in the lift other than the twelve buttons, there is similarly nothing I can do for you. What else is there to press?!

The ground floor is hell. I've been liberated from alcohol and from myself—and that is what hell is, active addiction plus imprisonment in my own thoughts.

The roof terrace is great. But my work is bringing people up from the ground floor. The lower floors of the building are not easy places to be, but I have to go back there to find people who want to escape, because those of us who have been liberated are the only ones who know how to operate the lift. If we do not help, no one else can.

Many people, having been taken up to the roof terrace, just stay there, enjoying the view.

There are times when it feels as though all I am doing day after day is going up and down in the lift.

Self-pity can creep in, as I become jealous of those lounging on the roof terrace.

This is a distortion: even when I am working with others, sometimes, for three or four hours a day, that still leaves a lot of other hours in the day for the rest of what life has to offer.

There's nothing quite like the feeling, however, of knowing that I have been used as one of the channels for effecting change in another person's life. Of knowing that, with each person saved, a new lift is created for people to be delivered from hell.

In those moments, I know 100% that there is an infinite power in the universe, and it is that knowledge that supplies the genuine joy of living. And, without that, the roof terrace is just a roof terrace.

3 comments:

Vincent said...

I agree with your comments for the most part, but sponsorship is just part of this. Being able to carry this message to the treatment centers and other windup joints is part of our service.

We have to carry this to those that may never find their way to one of our good meetings.

Having said that I understand the feeling of taking hostages, but the windup joints can be done in such a fashion as a foundation meeting and nothing else.

foundation meetings give a little history at first then let them know what is wrong with them. This allows them to make that move from the lobby to the elevator.

I really liked your comment on the roof terrace, I have known alot of folks that like the view until it gets them to the stainless table in the morge.

Keep plugging away and keep sponsoring, some day this program will get back to the 75% success rate that we use to enjoy. Until then we must remain in the trenches helping as many as we can, and when I say that what I mean is making sure that they hear the truth about there addiction.

Anonymous said...

I need ALL 3 parts of the triangle - unity, service & recovery - meetings, steps, being of maximum service to others - I have a dis-ease of mind, body & spirit that, if I'm to live a happy useful whole life I need to treat all. I'm so thankful that I live in this tiny time of history of only the last 75 years when we have an answer that puts it all together for so many with a drinking problem.

bella strange said...

This post is wonderful
This is what I can do as a sponsor. Nothing more, nothing less. No more buttons than these.