My aching toe made me think of how my behavior “in the middle of the night” relates to how I work this program for me. “In the middle of the night” has great meaning for my program and me. So how do I work this program when I am, “in the middle of the night?”
Rarely do I hit the rewind button of life these days, but I remember the darkness in the middle of the night. I remember the darkest of the dark. By its very nature, the middle of the night is the darkest time of our lives. But also by its very nature, it will pass. The light will come around again.
Now, I don’t panic in the middle of the night. I accept that the darkness then is normal. “This too shall pass,” if I choose to work this program. If not, then I may panic in the darkness.
When I’m panicked, I tend to do stupid, insane, and irrational things. I bump into things. I stub my toe. If I wait for some light, some clarity, then the decisions or even the non-decisions I make are usually pretty good.
“In the middle of the night,” I keep “First Things First.” In working this program, first for me is my own spiritual, emotional, and physical health. The Steps, the readings, the books, the meetings, and the other people in the program help me keep “First Things First.” My spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being are like gauges of how my program is working for me. If they are out of balance or in the red, then I am not working the program in a way that is healthy for me. “In the middle of the night,” I will remember that my well-being is not dependent on another person’s actions or inactions.
“In the middle of the night,” I liken the program’s guidance to how my body reacts to the cold. My body will sacrifice less important parts to preserve the important. My body will send blood away from my fingers and toes to my vital organs to keep me alive. I may lose a toe, but my life will be preserved. I may have to detach from a loved one, and that may be painful. I may have to set a boundary that seems so counter-intuitive that I don’t think I will survive, but I will.
As I work my program, I may be required to give up something important to me, but I will keep my life. Detaching and setting boundaries made me fear I would lose a valued relationship or lose a person’s love, but that hasn’t been the case for me. When I use detachment and set boundaries, I do it not only with love, but with a spirit of reconciliation.
“In the middle of the night,” I focus more on my Higher Power. No matter which way I go, life will be okay. I will live life on life’s terms because my Higher Power is there to take care of me. If I will try to do only what I can do and let Him do what only He can do, then I will make it through the middle of the night and into the light of morning.
“In the middle of the night,” I don’t need complex, complicated, and confusing answers. All I need is this simple yet not simplistic program. All I need is to work it and trust that the light will come around again. When I am in the brightness of day, I know that I have to prepare for the night to roll around again. I work the program and prepare to be stronger the next time I find myself “in the middle of the night.” I enjoy the brightness, but I also stay “programmed up” to be ready for the next slip I make, and the next dark hour. I can’t be perfect, but I can progress.
“In the middle of the night,” we all can progress by working the program to the best of our ability. From there we can live more serene lives and do as the Twelfth Step suggests to us: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
By David M., North Carolina
The Forum, April 2013