“The war is constant and the battles are daily, but I can never give up.” These are the words at the front of my book, The Twelve-Step Warrior. Someone asked me last week what the meaning behind them was. Who is the war against? Do you win every battle?
Let me explain. The war that is constant is the war against the other me, and this was particularly poignant during the early days of recovery.
I was fighting many addictions, the main one being alcoholism, and I felt like every day was a battle. I had to fight the urge to drink one day at a time. In fact, some days I had to fight them one hour, one minute, or even one second at a time. But I found that the older I got in sobriety, the more battles I would win.
I once asked an old stalwart of AA – a man who had been sober for fifty years – why I was in a constant battle. Was it always going to be like this?
His reply came back in a calm but strong, gruff voice: “Son, this isn’t a battle, it’s a war. And it’s constant; it will never stop.”
He continued: “Some days you will win all the battles and some days you will lose the battles. But never stop fighting, my son. Never give up!”
That day my life changed forever! I looked at things from a different perspective. I looked at myself as me and my other self as the addict. After this, I started to look at myself as a being that was split into two parts: two ‘me’s. One was the addict and the other was the new me; the person I wanted to be. I knew when I was drinking and when I was thinking about drinking it was stinking thinking, and I knew that was not the person I wanted to be.
This meant that when I acted on my temptations, whatever they may have been, the addict was holding more shares than I was. And this was preventing me from being the person I yearned to be.
I knew that when I thought like this, or gave into any kind of temptation, the addict side of me took more shares, and that the more shares the addict took the less of the me I wanted to be was left. When the addict held more shares, he also had more control over me. Just like in business, there would be a company takeover, and in this case the company in question was my mind, my body and my soul.
So with this in mind, every time temptation came along I would refuse to give in and I would win more shares back. I was retaking the company. The more I resisted, the more shares I gained, until eventually I was the major shareholder.
When I own the most shares, I am happy and active, and I achieve more than even I can believe, but when I give into temptation either with my mind, my body or my soul, those shares are again passed over to the other me.
What the old stalwart chap had installed in me was a battle plan: a way of keeping on top of the addiction; a way of keeping the real me in charge of the company.
I am mindful that sometimes the other me who, incidentally, is a sneaky fucker that lies in wait, still exists in the dark reassess of my mind. The other me waits, wanting me to slip up and wanting me to hand over my shares.
I do make mistakes. I’m not perfect, but while I know the other me sits in the darkness waiting, I am in a constant war, fighting battles on a daily basis to hold on to the shares I own.
Remember: Hold on to your shares. Hold the 99% stake in yourself, but never forget that the other you will always hold that 1% and will always pursue the other 99%.