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Sitting in an AA speaker meeting and listening to someone’s story feels like reading an autobiography. Every person has a story full of recounted memories of the good and bad. Whether downright downplayed or exaggerated, each person’s story is unique because it’s told from personal perspectives. There are many things money can buy in this world but a new perspective isn’t one of them. Only hard work gets you one of those.

Shifting your focus

One thing that is mentioned in the promises and by many members of AA is that we will gain a new perspective. How perfect and wonderful it is to be guaranteed a new outlook on life, a reprieve from the dreary hopeless life we once led in active alcoholism and addiction. I never knew just how important it is to tap into gaining a different point of view, probably more important a tool than any other I’ve acquired. A new perspective is the gift of insight and awareness. Nothing in this world is more valuable than an awareness that we are all human, therefore make mistakes but are loveable and valuable anyway.

Advice? No thanks!

Before admitting absolute defeat from alcohol and drugs, I was a hopeless bitter and negative ball of energy, ripping through family and friends like a raging tornado. Anytime someone had a bit of advice or encouragement, or even offered me a solution (which was always to get clean and go back to AA) I quickly became defensive. I’d shoot down any and all ideas that were not my own, sometimes even becoming angry towards the person. Not once during this time did I stop to think of why I refused to accept advice or suggestion. Not once did it cross my mind that people genuinely cared about me and my well-being and just wanted to see me smile and be happy again.

The only thing that ever crossed my mind was getting high and drunk, finding ways to make money to get high and drunk, and then feeling guilty and ashamed about it. It was a circle of madness that engulfed my entire life for what seemed like an eternity but was actually thirteen years. My entire teen years, young adult life, even into my mid-twenties, were spent going round-and-round in this circle refusing to see anyone’s perspective but my own. My mind was shut tight against everyone trying to make me see what I was doing to myself.

Reasons to change

I had developed a mistrust of others and even myself. I damaged relationships, burned bridges, and isolated so often that it seemed the only person I had to reach out to and seek advice from, was myself. Just how useful is advice from someone who doesn’t trust their own actions, is inebriated all the time and not setting a good example to begin with? Not very useful at all. I had to humble up and quietly admit to myself once I got sober, that I didn’t have the answers to everything.

If I had all the answers, why was I still so unhappy and miserable? Why was I still having so many “freak accidents” not paying my bills on time, going to jail and wrecking my car. Why could I not hold a job for more than a few months? For me, this was one of the biggest and pivotal points in my recovery journey – developing this awareness and admittance of self-harm. I never knew I was my own worst enemy. I thought this whole time I was my own best friend! But how can someone who is abusing their body in so many ways, truly love themselves deep down?

New perspective

Gaining a new perspective is everything to me. It strengthens my relationship with my higher power as well. If we are stuck in our own first-person perspective all the time, how are we ever able to see life through the eyes of another? It’s not always all about me. Sharing in a meeting is like opening up and reading a page from our autobiographies. It’s a window to our minds, hearts, and deepest most vulnerable thoughts and feelings. To be able to sit in a room full of strangers, and share our pain and struggles, achievements and successes, is such a wonderful gift! And to think at one time when I was younger, prior to having attended an AA meeting, my perspective on the program was: a room full of closet drunks or people who drank from a brown paper bag under a bridge. How closed-minded and far off I was on that notion.

Finding the light

At one very low point in my addiction, there was no future, only darkness and isolation. To have been given a new perspective is the same as being given a brand new life, except nothing in the physical world has changed. However, spiritually speaking, nothing is the same. Everything’s brighter, happier and hopeful. Without this new perspective, I would have no reason to continue staying clean and sober. Thank God for AA/NA and its ability to change the lives of many once-hopeless alcoholics and addicts today. I have the ability to raise my head up with confidence and look forward to a better today and tomorrow.

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