One of the many things the programme has given me is the understanding and ability to respond rather than react to situations in life.

What’s the difference between the two, why is it beneficial in my life?

While drinking and using, I would constantly feel the need to be in control of everything around me, it’s something most people in recovery can relate to and something we have to overcome in our early steps through the recognition and acceptance that people, places and things are exactly as they are meant to be, and ultimately out of our control.

During my drinking and using, I would be using these substances to change the way that I felt, I would be overrun by my character defects, things like self-pity, intolerance, rage, impatience, ultimately fear was running my life. When fear is driving you, you react to life. Everything tends to cause you to act without thinking, to act without consideration for others, to act from your first instincts often without consideration of the wider situation.

I would frequently react to life’s situations poorly. I would lash out at people, make poor decisions or judgement calls, when someone caused me pain or distress I would let this anger and resentment build and look at ways to win the situation regardless of what it might take and the any thought as to what the repercussions might be, both for myself or other people. When we react, we let our fears take over our day to day thinking, our actions and our life. It served us well in our drinking, it protected us, it made us feel big, powerful, successful, it gave us a self-defence mechanism against things in life and helped us to hide from our true feelings, from our feelings of isolation and loneliness.

When living life through the programme and working the steps, we begin to open ourselves up, we begin to let in our higher power, we begin to life a life of love and not fear. When we do this, our fears and insecurities leave us, we’re able to be more centered, we find peace, connection and purpose. When this happens, we’re able to respond instead of react. Responding allows us to deal with situations as they arise with a calmer head, with thought and consideration for others, we’re able to embrace honesty and humility in our actions. Even tough times, we’re better equipped to deal with situations and those around us, we’re able to respond because we’re not driven by fear.

We have to remember that this is progress not perfection, simply being sober isn’t enough to somehow turn us into saints. We will get things wrong, we can still make poor decisions in sobriety, but the programme allows us to recognise these and make amends when we need to. If we constantly embrace and the work the programme, our lives will become easier, more manageable, through us responding and not reacting to life.

/ Jay