In 12 Step literature we are able to find the 12 Promises on pages 83-84 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Of course, there are many more promises found in the book, this is just where 12 of them are grouped together. Today we will look at the first promise which is “we are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.” We will break this passage into two parts.
The first part is “we are going to know a new freedom.” Imagine being able to roam the world and not be looking for a drink, pill, joint or other type of substance. I know for myself when using my mind became fixated on when it was “time” to begin using that day. I’d scurry about getting things done so I could begin my using for the day. I never really tried to control the amount I consumed of a substance. However, I did try and control my behavior so whomever I was with would not question my using. My last few months I was using around the clock and had thrown caution to the wind as far as hiding anything. I took certain pills to get up, other types of drugs for the afternoon and then more pills and alcohol for the evening until I passed out. This went on day after day, month after month. I was not able to control my craving for substances.
Once I became sober, I no longer had to spend my days on a merry go round of existence. I was given the freedom to go anywhere and do whatever I pleased without using. I was finally free from the lash of addition. This was my new freedom which I have come to appreciate and enjoy so much. I suddenly realized that I had been granted this freedom by an empathetic, compassionate and loving Higher Power.
The next part of the promise states that we will know a “new happiness.” I don’t know about you but I was very unhappy most of the time during my years of addiction. I was not a happy drunk although I pretended to be at times. Finally, things became so unbearable I just gave up trying to use and be happy. I was satisfying a compulsion greater than my will could withstand. I secretly envied people who appeared to be happy, while at the same time thinking that they were faking it. No one could be happy in this life I thought. Life was something to be endured and then we die.
But once becoming sober I started to feel small spurts of happiness. Becoming adjusted to doom and gloom this new happiness thing was puzzling at first. I came to appreciate nature, the blue sky, beautiful art and music and the list could go on and on. I saw how living the principles of the program had led me to this new happiness. This was a deep feeling of contentment and that all was well. Mind you I still had problems and issues to address but I was able to squeeze a bit of happiness into the day. I did not burn up energy trying to control and enjoy my sobriety. I had to get a job for the first time in 10 years and this was a daunting proposition. But eventually someone did hire me after a lot of legwork on my part. I even became happy to go to work and to be happy while there.
The last part of the Promises on page 84 states that “they will always materialize if we work for them.” Once again that word “work” is mentioned in the program of recovery. We are given the gift of sobriety by our Higher Power. Then we are given the desire to recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. Finally, we have the ability to take the 12 Steps and apply them to our lives. The Promises will be fulfilled for you sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly. But they will always materialize if you work for them.