I had a pretty messed up upbringing. My family life as a child was filled with mental, verbal and physical abuse. My parents were divorced before I can even remember. My dad was present but absent at the same time. I went to three different elementary schools because we were constantly on the run from one of my mom’s failed relationships. I watched my mom get her two front teeth punched out of her head when I was 6 years old. Drugs and alcohol were the norm and I distinctly recall helping one of my moms boyfriends trim his marijuana plants after school every day when I was in 5th grade. Naturally, I was constantly being told all of the things that I could never speak about to anybody. Everything was a secret.
As I got older, I was put on heavy doses of Adderall because I was acting out in school and couldn’t focus. This actually helped. I remember accidentally discovering how good I felt when I took more than what I was prescribed. All of my cares and things I wanted to forget about just melted away. Naturally, it didn’t take me long to discover weed and alcohol, then cocaine, then… Crack.
The thing is – I didn’t actually discover these things at all. My mom did. I was 15 the first time she did cocaine with me. And I was a full-blown crack addict by the time I was 17. One could argue that I was a willing participant because I liked and enjoyed the effects that alcohol and drugs had on me. At the time, I believed that too. Now I know that I wasn’t actually willing at all. These things were introduced to me at an age where I didn’t actually have much choice or say in the matter. Sorry, Nancy Reagan – “Just say no” wasn’t exactly an option when your mother is feeding you crack.
Willingness is a key factor to most of life’s decisions. But willingness is only achieved when you precede the action with an “IF” and follow with a “THEN”. For example; IF I want to have a car, a house, a phone, and some of the other luxuries that life has to offer, THEN I must be willing to wake up at the crack, get my butt out of bed, and get to work at my job. Don’t have a job? Well, IF I want a job, THEN I must be willing to make getting a job my job. I could go on, but you get the picture.
When I decided to get clean and sober, my life was an absolute mess. I had no place to call home. I had no money. Nobody trusted me. I was in trouble with the law. I was hanging around casually with some of the most dangerous people in Detroit. I was brought to my knees in desperation. Forced into recovery because I had no other options. Forced into willingness because the only thing left for me on the path that I was on was death. But regardless of HOW I became willing, I became willing. That’s what was important.
“We have emphasized willingness as being indispensable. Are we now ready to let God remove from us all the things which we have admitted are objectionable? Can He now take them all – every one? If we still cling to something we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing.” – Big Book pg 76
I thank God for bringing me the forced willingness that I endured. And I thank AA for taking that spark of willingness and transforming it into a fire for recovery.