"Arrested Recovery"

     The problem with trying to explain the Steps on paper or a screen is that it isn’t yet REAL for the addict. There is no actual experience of it on the inside, as writing, reading, studying and talking about the Steps is simply an intellectual pursuit. Who cares about any of that if the addict still feels like shit inside, if his or her inner life is still smothered in darkness, grief, pain, boredom, depression and fear?

     It is true that all any addict or alcoholic needs to do is to find God, but that is much easier said than done. A true catharsis is necessary to propel us into this new fundamental mindset, this new and permanent conviction. A true conversion resulting from a profound spiritual experience must often occur to drive a person to suddenly put their spiritual growth and their relationship with God before all else.

     Truth be told, I am frightened of nothing anymore except messing with my relationship with God. What God has done for me… how selfish and stupid I would be to try to live by self-will and do whatever I please. God came out of the Great Unknown one night and briefly touched me with His infinite love and power. That brief encounter was enough to instantly restore my mind, heart and soul and enable me to suddenly put Him first before everything. I probably don’t have the balls to pull an Abraham, but I do take this stuff pretty seriously.

     And this is where we see ‘arrested recovery’, which was astutely coined by the guy who turned up North into up North many years ago and which refers to some combination of a refusal to continue growing, searching and acting beyond the Steps as well as substituting our addiction for vanity, ego, prestige, sexuality – something empty and fruitless. Unfortunately he is no longer there, which leaves quite the hole in the intellectual gravitas of the program.

     At any rate, a lot of guys and girls will take Steps and be lucky and blessed enough to be touched by the Holy Spirit, and then what do they do? They come home on a pink cloud and stop doing the work. They take their spiritual condition for granted, stop taking Steps, and relapse. Then they blame the Steps, they blame the treatment center, they blame family stress, they blame ‘worldly clamors’, they blame social injustice (lol), they blame anything but themselves.

     But the truth is that if we deteriorate mentally, emotionally and spiritually, it is no one else’s fault but our own. It is because we became arrogant, lazy and unwilling to meet “a few simple rules” as the Big Book notes. If these guys would simply finish making all of their amends, continue writing inventory when resentments and fears crop up, continue to pray and meditate, continue to help others when possible and continue to expand their program and evolve, they would all be fine.

     What, is that too much to ask? Too much work? Actually, given the amount of effort we put into becoming a junkbox and taking selfishness to a whole new level, I would say it’s a pretty small effort and a pretty small price to pay, wouldn’t you? 

     I will continue doing this because it helps parents and spouses, the people who deserve help and relief more than we ever will, but the point of this has always been to help people find God. Finding God is the solution for addiction and alcoholism, followed up by a lifetime of spiritual action, but again, the problem is neither I nor anybody else can with any justice explain in words what needs to happen to an addict. Addicts need to somehow find the willingness to give themselves to this process and have a REAL INTERNAL EXPERIENCE for themselves, which ignites the spiritual fire inside.

     It is possible to shift your entire frame of mind and attitude towards life, self and others, but nobody can do that for you. You can’t ‘get it’ by just reading or talking about it in group. It can’t be bought or beaten into you. You have to earn it through rigorous effort. You have to reach out from deep within and ask for it. Ask God to help you earnestly and He will help you… so long as you are willing to back it up with some action.
     God, help me always to remember the point of everything is to do Your will and help people find You. Teach me to care about nothing else. Remind me that this alone has driven me from the very second I recited the 7th Step prayer back in 2005. 

2 thoughts on “"Arrested Recovery"

  1. It takes the willingness of a dying man to leap into the step. Only I can maintain my spiritual condition my higher power can't do that for me. The big book calls it resting on one's laurels. Thank you for this blog and all your service of carrying the message.

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