From BS to IS by Lisa O.
I like to divide my life into two periods, before sobriety which I term “BS” and in sobriety, for which I use “IS.” While I was living in my BS, I would read metaphysical books and study philosophy, religion and esoteric subjects like biofeedback and how to make wine. I considered myself an expert in all these areas, and would sit at the bar pontificating with my vast amount of intelligent knowledge. In my BS period, I would take hostages, many of whom were willing to lend me their ears for the price of another round. We would talk and dream and make plans to visit the bastions of mankind’s spiritual and philosophical centers: climb the holy Mt. Kailas in Tibet, see an ashram and bathe in the Ganges in India, stop by the Vatican in Rome to hear what the Pope had to say and check out the Shinto shrines in Japan. I thought if I immersed myself in geographically spiritual locations, I would gain guru status just by osmosis.
But for all my studies, my dreams and my plans, I never ventured too far from that bar stool. (Bar Stool=BS) Well, actually, I did end up away from it, in a dark room, curled up with my bottle, angry and disillusioned with my entire existence.
The way I describe it IS that God reached into my life and propelled me into Alcoholics Anonymous. Early on I had a period of trial and error–of learning that I could no longer imbibe spirits in my quest for spirituality. I read in the Big Book that to continue in my BS was to shut myself off from the sunlight of the spirit.
Through practicing AA’s 12 steps, I have had a spiritual awakening. And I didn’t have to go to India or Japan. Just what IS a spiritual awakening? My spirit, which was dulled in my BS days, IS alive now. I have awareness that there IS a Higher Power that cares about me and you too. There IS another spiritual book that lists gifts of the spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These characteristics came to replace the shortcomings and defects of character I asked God to remove in steps 6 and 7. In AA we have the promises, spiritual gifts like intuition and no more regret, a new attitude and outlook on life and awareness that God does for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Another aspect of spirituality is the understanding that I am perfectly okay just as I am and just as I am not. I can give up every struggle that I engage in, because when I surrender, and accept what IS, I gain serenity. Somehow the idea that I am a small part in a much bigger picture brings comfort to me.
I’ve heard in meetings, and I’ve come to believe, that I am a spiritual being having a human experience. If this IS true, that I’m a spiritual being who manifested as the person I am, then I came here for the contrast. I showed up here on Earth not just to experience love and joy, but also for the sorrow and sadness, anger and grief and pain and the rest of the gamut of emotions that make up the human experience. During my BS days, I did whatever I could so I didn’t have to go through what I thought were “negative emotions.” Today I realize that each emotion I get to feel IS a gift. When I feel sad, it generally doesn’t last, but I tell myself, “Oh, this IS sadness.
Why did I run from this?” At my morning meeting today, a man who shared was animated as he spoke: “I see God everywhere, in people, places and things…and I also see where He is not: in people, places and things.” That’s real spiritual awareness. I wonder if he’s been to Tibet?