When I was young and just coming into recovery, I read these words on pages 83 and 84 and saw for the first time what my life could be some day. In the midst of my deep insecurity, shame, fear, and hopelessness, these words were a beacon. I took very seriously the fact that they are called the Promises, not the Maybes or the Might Happens. I went to meetings where men and women talked about how the promises had come true in their life and so I held onto them as a covenant between me and the fellowship. They have come true for me. And, they will come true for you, too—so long as you are willing to do the work.
Promise #9: Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
Addiction is a hopeless state of body and mind in which feelings of desperation affect every area of our lives. Through the recovery process, our bodies and our minds begin to heal, and soon, the world starts to change. When I first began recovery I was offered a vision of what my life might look like one day when I heard another man read The 9th Step Promises. I did not think it was possible for my life but I hoped it was possible. I remember the day – even where I was standing – when suicide was no longer an option for me. Over a year sober, and shortly after my father died, I was on my way to a class at graduate school when the thought popped into my head as it so often had for so many years. But this time something inside of me told me that no matter what I was going through somehow it would pass. I began to see that life was a gift and what an incredible disservice it was to me – and what a profound lack of appreciation for the very breath that gave me life – to callously threaten to throw it away. Suicide simply was no longer an option. As each year has passed over these last 21 years of my recovery I have worked to find a deeper and greater appreciation for Life.
When we look back to our lives of addiction after years of recovery it is as if we are remembering the life of a completely different person. That is how it feels for me today. Today I love life – with all of its pain and confusion – each day is an opportunity to grow and learn and continue on this amazing journey. I do not see life as something that must be endured anymore. I do not worship the Smiths, Samuel Beckett, and Sylvia Plath – to name a few of the necromantics – or at least the forlornaholics. You know, those bards of our culture who are intoxicated on the bleakness of life. That used to feed me – not realizing it was eating away my life from the inside. I am not naïve enough to believe that a return to that old life could never happen. I know that is not the case. But I do not live in fear of it. Nor do I spend nearly as much of my todays stuck in all of my yesterdays. I appreciate that it may feel like a risk to you to truly embrace life – knowing that it can and most likely will hurt you. But today it is worth the risk for me. As the Desiderata says at its end: “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”