Where did we come from? Who are we? Why are we here - What is our purpose? How should we live? These deep queries have plagued us since early our developmental years.
We believe we started life with a relatively clean slate, a blank canvas. Almost immediately, beliefs were formed, trust was tested and defined, confidence through autonomy was shaped, justified doubts were determined, guilt and shame were gauged and logged, and comparisons crept in. This all happened in our formidable years. This phase set the tone for how we would respond emotionally to life situations – for years to come.
Since birth, we have wrestled with “why?”
Our foundation left us wired for connection, growth, and love. We were social, seekers of knowledge, and vulnerable to trust and love. At our core, we were eager to live and grow in a safe and loving environment. We saw the world as wise, forgiving, just, and courageous.
We drew to kindness and calm. We were sure in ourselves while also wobbly on the questions of life. We didn’t know where we fit into the complex picture of society. The origins of life itself baffled us and our instincts confused us. We were left to act based on what we knew to be true.
There was from the beginning a compass inside us, guiding us to our true north.
Adolescents found us grappling with identity and role confusion. Intimacy and isolation were met with no preparation. We found ourselves acting opposite our compass. We felt the tug and powered through the conflict the best we could. We were left alone, confused and afraid.
Fear drove our decisions for years to follow, and we chose self-preservation and alcohol to ease the tension. We became self-absorbed, self-indulgent, ego-driven individuals. We went entirely south and drank to blur the sight of where our behaviors were taking us. We discarded relationships, scorned love, and stopped all personal development (sure, we were still making money but were coasting on the current of our God-given talents). We refused to forgive and never felt forgiven. We felt trapped in a world of injustice.
Our journey abruptly ended on the bottom floor. We had all but ruined our community, destroyed our finances, and abandoned all that was important to us –outside and inside.
We found ourselves alone and void of our central morals; we had stiff-armed our spirituality and lost our zeal for life.
Our true north emerged unannounced and placed a desire to change course in our hearts.
We knew we needed to get back on track, and we made the right decisions with the last of our energy. We surrendered and asked for help. We begged for direction. We needed rapid relief from the pain.
For us, relief came immediately in that we could stop consuming, so the flood of lousy stuff stopped happening. True healing, on the other hand, has taken some time. To be clear, the first 18 months were tough. We wanted heaven but were going through hell. Our compass was still trying to pull us south. The conflict was catastrophic at times. We were told that transformation takes time and that the promises of a better life would be there for us if we were diligent and patient.
We asked ourselves at one point: We are abstinent, now what? The answer given to us was to get right spiritually while living off a solid base of principles and virtues – moral rules and character development.
This advice aligned with our true north. From our earliest recollection, we felt drawn to acceptance, hope, faith, courage, honesty, patience, humility, willingness, brotherly love, integrity, self-discipline, and service. We had held firm at one point to forgiveness and justice. We had grasped the power of connection.
We became thankful for the “less pain” we experienced. We have come to accept that there will always be some level of pain as we continue to age in this world that we live in.
We are now right with our Higher Power, acknowledging Him as the creator of the planets, stars, and all that reside on them. This has taken a significant burden off our shoulders as it was hard to play God for all those years. We are comfortable believing that it was He who created us and that it is, in fact, His will that guides our steps.
We believe that that same Higher Power gave us gifts: the favor of learning, the reward of thought and free will, a willing heart, and an eagerness and courage to grow. We consider justice and forgiveness as we head north.
In the end, this is no stretch. We are simply picking up from where we left off decades ago when we were 8/10. We are embracing the life our God placed us in many years ago. The gifts are the exact traits we need to live out. They keep us moving north. The conflict/pull is now almost completely gone.
When we feel a tug, a strain toward the south, we say (not recite, but feel every word) the serenity prayer as a reminder of our intended direction:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Like a trampoline, the harder we come down, the higher we soar. Say it and mean it hard. Live it as it is, as much a prayer as a philosophy.
Today, it’s about regulating emotions. It's about staying true to our true north. Today, it's about wisdom, temperance, justice, and courage.
Together, our God, our inner-self, and a philosophic approach collect to bring solid fulfillment to life. Our purpose has become clear, and that purpose is to lift those who are down. To remind others of their true north and to give them the tools to change directionally.
We can be a better person today by re-connecting with our third-grade selves.
'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. - Jesus
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from a sober.coffee podcast # E144 titled " A look at Stoicism with Author Derek Castleman” The session dropped on 12/27/2023….Click here to hear the podcast.
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.