from The San Diego AA Coordinator, February 2008 |

“If You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Going” is a famous quote attributed to British politician Winston Churchill. The circumstances for the quotation are unknown, but Winston was a very shrewd individual. It is a saying that is so appropriate to our 12-step program that it is difficult to know where to begin on this topic. It is a useful saying that we can successfully use throughout our entire sobriety, from the very first day to the present.

Very early on in our sobriety the above quotation is one that just keeps us going…. away from the return to that first drink which alcoholics have succumbed to countless times. “I’ll start tomorrow,” “I don’t care, anymore,” and “I’ll have one just to feel normal again” were just some of the reasons to justify the return to this disease yet again.

Chapter 3 provides us with a list of all the ways we tried to stop drinking. Finally we admitted we were powerless and in the very beginning it didn’t get better, only worse. Many of us have had to endure a case of the shakes, DT’s, night sweats, no sleep, and worse. Finally, you wake up one morning, you don’t feel like having a drink, and physically you feel somewhat normal. You might even be hungry. I’ve gone through hell and the worst is over. Wrong answer! This is only the beginning of the long journey.

Now the fourth step had to be done. A fearless and thorough moral inventory of ourself wasn’t going to be an easy task at all. More going through hell, recalling all of the things we know we should have done differently.

Not only did an inventory have to be done, but we had to tell someone and then, wherever possible, make amends to people we had harmed. Somehow, the basic concept made just enough sense to follow through, and as the process began to unfold there was a small visible light at the end of the tunnel.

It wasn’t just people but things like the IRS, possibly jail or probation, paying back stores we might have stolen from, and on and on. When you get to the end you say now the worst is over. Again wrong answer!

Life goes on regardless of our sobriety and we are faced with an array of situations ranging from sickness, loss of loved ones, divorce, even being homeless. Instead of wallowing in our self pity we are now armed with tools to deal with these kind of situations.

Don’t sit down in your own hell but do your footwork, turn it over to your higher power, and accept what the outcome is. We are no longer in control! As the statement says, just keep on going.

There are no guarantees save one. You won’t get drunk if you don’t take the first drink. If you don’t get drunk you can walk through your own hell and there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you do drink there is also a guarantee. You’ll wallow in your own hell and you won’t walk through it.

Tom K.