We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. AA Promises
The freedom of Promise 1 comes in a couple of different ways for me. First, in giving up and surrendering to my powerlessness over alcohol, I am freed from the struggle and pre-occupation for the next drink, the insanity, and the remorse/guilt/regrets. The other side of that freedom is the ability to engage with life on many new levels. Today, when advising students, it often comes up that during my first try at college, I earned a whopping 0.7 GPA. Fifteen years later when I tried college sober, I earned a 4.0. I recollect how I carried a brief case during my first try at college but it only contained bottles of alcohol, speed, and a checkbook – a rather telling statement on what controlled my academic pursuits!
Over the years, the freedom in Promise 1 has evolved in different directions. I recollect when I was in grade school at my Great Uncle’s wake, seeing the bottle of Johnnie Walker Scotch and the happy figure on the label walking down the road and thinking, “that’s what I want” and making a commitment to alcohol. That bottle quickly became my prison.
Recovery has led me to think of freedom and happiness in a whole new way. In recovery, I have come to appreciate the concept that I would rather try something and not have it work it work out, than to not have tried, and regret making the attempt in the future. I consider this the freedom to begin to discover true self. Such an approach was not possible when under the influence of my active addictions where I had an abundance of people, places, and things to blame for being in whatever unsavory inescapable circumstance I found myself.
Recovery has allowed me the freedom to live proactively, to take the road less traveled, or the one more traveled – recovery has given me the choice. Life in active addiction was making the choice to be in a pinball machine where alcohol and drugs controlled the flippers. I am somewhat perplexed by the “yeah, but . . .” heard when folks explain why recovery or choices in recovery work for others but not for them. My experience is the opposite.
Today, Promise 1 of AA is a guiding reminder of the realities and possibilities of recovery. To the point, when I was laying in the detox bed those years ago, had someone “promised” me my existence of today through recovery, I would have taken it in a heartbeat. I don’t make a lot of money, but I have a family, a career, a life that I chose. When in detox, I could not even conceptualized my reality of today when freed from the bondage of alcohol and drugs.