At the ODAAT group in Plano, Texas the noon meeting had several crusty old retired guys (who were about my current age!) that laid out the same ol’ wisdom every time they shared. We newcomers laughed that even though the topic changes, the words remained the same. We thought about having an AA Saying Bingo game for phrases because you heard the same things over and over!
I’ve heard a thought that AA meetings work because “not everyone goes crazy on the same day”. This could not be more correct when it came to Owen’s tried and true sayings.
Wisdom of the Ages
Through a haze of coffee and cigarette smoke (this was the 90’s!) I heard Owen once again repeat something I had heard him say a hundred times before.
If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes.
It clicked. That was the day that I needed to hear this! If I was not willing to do my part in my recovery, then I was going to keep getting the same kind of results I always had!
I had been waiting around for the “miracle” of recovery to bring calmness to my chaos and turn failure into success. Nothing had changed. I was doing the same things and hoping that the results would be different.
I had to change before anything else would change.
I heard what I needed to hear, exactly when I needed to hear it. So many times my head had listened, but my heart had not. I was in the right place to receive the message and turn it into meaningful action. It was an awakening to me to participate in my own recovery. I was responsible for the alcoholic who still suffered: namely me!
Trusty Old Words Mean Something
At first, the words seem to be simplistic, even repetitive. If nothing changes, nothing changes. Sure. Of course. How else COULD you interpret it?
If I was not ready to change something in my life, my trajectory was going to stay the same. To paraphrase Newton’s first law of motion, a body at rest stays at rest until acted upon by an outside force. These words were that force! They were the catalyst to spur me into action!
Up until this point, I had been satisfied with simply not drinking. That was what I called ‘success’ in my program of recovery. That said, I was quickly becoming dissatisfied with JUST not drinking… I needed my life to actually get better! I had to change something or nothing else would!
Changes for Change’s Sake
Of course, changing just to change is a great way to bring chaos into your life. That was one of my patterns in my drinking life! I needed directed change that improved my world, not just adding something different!
The answer, as it does so very often, lies in the 12 steps.
Using this call to action, I began again at Step 1. At 2 years sober, I started over to identify the parts of my life I was powerless over and what I could change.
The results came immediately! When I had put an effort into my mental health and wellbeing and it paid off!
I have no idea why Owen’s words resonated with me on that particular day, in a very typical meeting. It was as if the “universe” (whatever that means) was speaking to me to let me know what it was that I needed to hear.
Listen to the words, you will hear what you need to hear… exactly when you need to hear it.