12 min read

January 20 - We Pause ... and Ask

January 20 - We Pause ... and Ask

Zach came into recovery and learned how to put down the drink but he soon learned that just not drinking wasn't enough. Through his persistence with the program and through work with a sponsor, he gradually learned that he could become more patient, kind and tolerant. Today he has the gift of compassion toward those that would have previously agitated him. Zach's a great inspiration with a powerful message.

Podcast Transcript

Michael L.: 0:15
Welcome to the daily reflection podcast. Today is January 20th and that was the voice of Zach H Zach is a member of my home group here in Philadelphia, and he shares his experience. Strength and hope on today's reflection. We pause and ask. I hope you enjoy the episode. Welcome to the podcast.

Zach H.: 0:37
Hey Mike, thanks for having me here. I really appreciate the opportunity. That's a pleasure.

Michael L.: 0:43
Would you help start us out by reading the daily reflection for January 20th?

Zach H.: 0:46
Yeah. sure... January 20th, we pause and ask as we go through the day we pause when agitated or doubtful and ask for the right thought or action from the big book, alcoholics anonymous page 87. Uh , today I humbly asked my higher power for the grace to find the space between my impulse and my action to let flow a cooling breeze. When I would respond with heat to interrupt fierceness with gentle peace, to accept the moment which allows judgment to become discernment, to defer, to silence when my tongue would rush to attack or defend, I promise to watch for every opportunity to turn toward my higher power for guidance. I know where this power is. It resides within me as clear as a mountain Brook hidden in the Hills. It is the unsuspected inner resource. I thank my higher power for this world of light and truth. I see when I allow it to direct my vision, I trust it today and hope it trusts me to make all the effort to find the right thought or action. Today

Michael L.: 1:51
We pause and ask, what does that mean for you? And tell me why you chose this particular daily reflection when you could have chosen any throughout the year?

Zach H.: 2:01
Um, well, this one is particularly meaningful for me. A sponsor turned me on to it , um, sometime ago, although it was years into my recovery , um, I feel like this is kind of where the rubber meets the road. You know, I put down alcohol, I stopped drinking as a result of coming into alcoholics anonymous, but that wasn't enough for me. Like I still suffered on a daily basis. And for a long time I blamed my circumstances, the people around me, the things around me. And I didn't realize that what my sponsor was priming me for was the ability to handle life on life's terms. And I feel like this is this reading today kind of gets at the crux of that, that, you know, it used to be, I would, I would get so mad at the woman I was married to. Um, I would get so mad at my customers for coming in and interrupting my drinking. I would get , uh , I would get filled with fear. Um, and my solution was to turn to a drink. You know, I had to get out of the office and go to the liquor store. I had to get home and get to my stash. Um, and it was like that all the time. And when you take away the booze, it's like, you can't just do that. Like, I still need some sort of resource to turn to. And I feel like this kind of hits on that, in that, you know, I think we all have those emotional moments. I know I do where life just gets to us. For whatever reason it can be in the car. It can be at the grocery store. It could be a major life event, but the emotions kick up and the old thought patterns come back, lash out, hurt someone , um, or eventually go use. And this, this reading brings me back to that. Here are some alternatives. Here's how you practice the program when the stuff is hitting the fan in your daily life.

Speaker 3: 3:57
Wow . So what I'm hearing is that , um, just stopping drinking, isn't the answer to all your problems. Is that , is that right? Right, right. And so do you get agitated today?

Zach H.: 4:10
Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. What

Speaker 3: 4:13
Are some of the things that you get agitated at?

Zach H.: 4:15
Well, it's not driving anymore because who's going anywhere at this point. Well, and it's , you know, expectations. They have, they have a way of just sneaking up on me. I don't realize that I've developed an expectation until I get angry. Um, you know, there's a good example is a couple of months ago I was out in the world , um , getting some copies made and there was something wrong with the machine and I stepped away for, to go get help. And this guy comes up and I'm like, Hey man, this machine's not working. I'm not finished yet. And his response was, yeah, you're done. And I'm like, Oh , you know, either you need, you know, a punch in the mouth or you need my opinion or you need something besides kindness and tolerance. But I continued on to the counter. I'm talking to this guy to get help. This other gentleman who told me I was done steps away. And I go back to copying and I just pause for a minute. And I'm just like, you know, I want to lash out at this dude, but that's not how I want to act anymore. One . I don't want to be consumed with anger because I think that that , that whole , that whole concept of anger is like grabbing a hot Ember and throwing it at someone like I'm the one who's sitting there, a human. Um, and so I needed to create some sort of interruption there. I pause, I don't say anything like that's the first step is don't react. Don't react. Think about what, what is my goal here is to be relieved of this anger and to act like a mature adult. And so I walk up to the guy afterwards, like I cool down, I go up to the guy and I'm like, Hey man, I'm sorry. If you felt I cut in front of you, that's rude. And that's not how I want to be. And he said, don't worry about it. And I left. It was like this peaceful event in which we were both kind to one another, as a result of me just stopping and not reacting to the situation.

Speaker 3: 6:07
That's a blessing. That's a gift. So how do you know when your , your defects of character are coming to the forefront? And I guess I want to back up a little bit, like at what point did you start to realize that, that you have these defects of characters and, and they manifest themselves in these challenges in getting along with people,

Zach H.: 6:29
Like I said, I'm a slow learner. And I think that my first sponsor took his time to gently get me around to where I could see this. He used to call me and ask two things of me. How are you feeling? And how are you treating the world? And I thought they were cute at first. And then I've come to realize that it's really a barometer for how is my program and how is my spiritual state in that , in this moment that I'm talking to this guy, because if I'm feeling something, it's probably an indicator that I'm reacting to something usually, you know, it's, it's anger, it's anger, covering fear is my most common response to the world at large. And those, those emotions act as like the check engine light saying, Hey, something's wrong. Don't know what needs to go on here, but I sure as heck don't need to go back to my default settings, which like I said is to lash out. Although I , a lot of times I'm, I'm, I'm really good at silent scorn. Like, that's my, that's my preference. I would rather just go nurse that resentment and maybe drink at you later, or figure out how to get revenge.

Speaker 3: 7:39
There's distance today for you, between feeling and , and reaction or action. Right? Hopefully that's what we strive for. What steps do you feel are responsible for really illuminating that?

Zach H.: 7:55
And I think it comes back to an 11 step. It really does it for me, the practice of pausing in the morning and sitting in stillness and trying , I mean, tries so hard to slow down the brain, slow that mind down and stop the chatter. If I can get a minute of peace and quiet in the mornings. And I , and I meditate for several minutes, I try to, but if I can get it to still for at least a minute, I consider that a great success because it sets the stage for that pause later in the day, when the guy's yelling at me.

Speaker 3: 8:28
So the reflection refers to watching for every opportunity to turn toward your higher power. Tell me a little bit about what your higher power looks like and maybe how you found that,

Zach H.: 8:38
Man. I got, I got no idea what my higher power looks like. I think the more of a box I put out there for that higher power, the more limitation I put on it, I don't know what it is. I don't know how it works much. Like my cell phone. I know it works when I pick it up and that's all that matters. I , I came to a point in my recovery where I decided, you know what, I don't need to define this. What I need to do is become reliant on it. Um, and it , it doesn't make any sense. I think the idea of this thing bigger than me, or is this reflection says inside of me, it's actually a resource inside of me. Um, it's absolutely ridiculous. I come from a science background, the thought of this foreign energy that you can't see and you can't feel, and can't touch that takes care of you. That can quell emotions that are so strong, like anger. That, I mean, I , if I get angry enough, I just see red, like the , the, the intellectual thought is gone and it's just attack or defend, I suppose, but usually it's attack , um, to be able to just calm that down to me is an absolute miracle in the moment

Speaker 3: 9:51
We think very much alike in that way. What do you tell people that might be new? What advice would you have for them about finding a higher power and embracing something more powerful than themselves?

Zach H.: 10:03
That's a really good question. You know, when I, when I hear that I hear a barrier, you know, I think that when I came in, I was looking for barriers to get in this. Um, fortunately for me, a higher power is not one of them, but I feel like if we can have, if , if I can have an open enough mind to try, what's being suggested by my sponsor, then I change. And I don't know how that change comes for some, it might be the awareness or the development of a higher power. You know, I, when I came into AA, I thought almost everything, if not, everything was absolutely silly. All of the steps were silly. They kind of made sense, but they were silly. Like why would this stuff actually helped me? But I can't deny the evidence. I was broken down and desperate enough that I was willing to go home and hit my knees and pray to a higher power that I had never spoken to before in my life. Um , I knew that the trees grew in that wasn't my willpower. I knew the sun Rose and that wasn't my willpower. Like there was no denying, there's something out there, right from my perspective, but I had never spoken to it before and to go home and hit my knees and knees and say, God, please keep me sober today. I need help. And the next 24 hours, I did not have the impulse to pick up a drink. And that was an absolute miracle. So day after day, 24 hour period, after 24 hour period, I continued to see evidence that there is something bigger than me out there or in here. So I would say remain open.

Speaker 3: 11:43
It sounds like desperation played a key role for you in providing the necessary willpower to accept something that you didn't quite fully understand, not quite fully understand

Zach H.: 11:54
And even ridiculed ridiculed in most instances. Yeah, it was absolute desperation. I had no other choices. I had run out of options and I , there are a lot of papers out there , um , by professionals that know a heck of a lot more than I do about the need for running out of options before we can surrender. And that's where I was. I surrendered and said, Frank, I don't know what the heck I'm doing here. Can you help me? And he said, yeah, I can do what I did. Go home, pray and ask God to help you. And Frank's your sponsor. He was my first sponsor.

Speaker 3: 12:28
So you've recovered. You're sober. Now. What's life look like for you today. And tell me a little bit about your, your daily practice of, of sobriety.

Zach H.: 12:37
A lot, a lot, a lot has changed. The too much has changed for me to get into completely here. Um, you know, I was, when I first got sober, I was going through a divorce , uh, behind on mortgage, tens of thousand dollars in debt, one working car, you know, moving out on Christmas day, which my wife was happy to help me there too. Uh , I have entered college. I got a degree I'm in a field where I help people. Now I moved to Philadelphia to go to graduate school. I never saw myself even going to college. I never thought I was smart enough to go to college. And here I'm in graduate school, it's just it's mind blowing the places that I've, that I've been taken to as a result of sobriety and in relationship with something bigger than me, I'm in a wonderful marriage now to an amazing human being. Um, you know, my practices is very similar to what it was originally from day one, which is, you know, to get up and have some sort of prayer meditation practice to do some sort of devotional reading like the daily reflection. I, you know, I'm in between semesters right now. So I'm hitting the meeting pretty much. Monday through Friday, I reserved the weekends for the spouse. I speak with my sponsor through zoom on a weekly basis. I call and text and zoom with people in the program as often as possible, which is typically most, most days, multiple times a day. So

Speaker 3: 14:06
Zach, I want to thank you for joining me tonight and , uh , and sharing your experience, strength and hope. Is there anything else you want to tell the audience? Do you have any words of wisdom for , for folks that are listening in?

Zach H.: 14:19
Um, sure. I suppose if, if I were to speak to the newcomer , um, you know, I came around the rooms for about six months and I loved what you guys had to say for the most part. Um, it sounded really attractive, but I continued to use, and I think it's important to , um, don't waste too much energy. I didn't waste don't waste too much energy beating yourself up over that. Um, the real turning point for me was when somebody came up to me after a meeting and invited me out coffee. And when they heard a bit more of my story and I, Oh , I was willing to open up and get vulnerable with this guy. He suggested I get a sponsor. And the moment I started working with this guy, Frank things changed, my wife started getting better and it doesn't mean that circumstances got better. You know, I still had a divorce ahead of me. I still had the sale of a house to sell a business. You know, I still had to get this failing business back online. It was a rough road I had about two years of, you know , dealing with the wreckage of my past decisions. So I really hope that anybody listening to this that is, is looking for a change that can happen for you. It happened for me and I did not fully believe it could happen for me. I just came in desperate and said, I'll do whatever you tell me to do. What's next.

Michael L.: 15:38
Great. Well, Zach , once again, thank you so much for spending some time.

Zach H.: 15:42
Hey, thanks, Mike. I'm uh , honored that you would take me. I know there's a lot of great sobriety here in , uh , Philadelphia, which is my new home. I've been here for six months and I think that it was another God moment that I even stumbled into sunrise semester. Um , it's great meeting anybody listening. If you get a chance, definitely

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