Many times over the past few months I have turned to this loop and the people on it, depressed, dispirited, miserable, and helpless. And many times these same people have ridden to the rescue, giving of themselves with a selflessness and love that never ceased neither to astound and to comfort me with a degree that is almost impossible to comprehend now.
And yet I am leaving the loop. Not without a good deal of regret, certainly, but because it is something I now feel I must do. Why? Because the dilemma of the conflict between my own desire for revenge and self-validation and the Twelve Step promotion of forgiveness and abandonment of self-will does not just appear irreconcilable, it is irreconcilable. I can no longer pretend this path will work for me when clearly it does not.
I no longer attend meetings or read program literature. Instead, I continue with my psychotherapy, my antidepressants, my homoeopathy, and my NLP. It is NLP that has proved most decisive as far as food is concerned. With its aid, I have eliminated milkshakes, donuts, chocolate, and french fries from my diet, and can eat foods like raw tomatoes, which I once despised. I exercise regularly now. As a result I am now sustaining a 12-pound weight loss.
Many were the times I told the loop in graphic detail of the mire of my depression. Now the long nightmare is coming to its end. Energy is returning to my limbs, life is coming back to my body, and once again I remember the meanings of simple words: love, joy, fun, happiness. I see the snow falling over the streets and marvel in its ethereal beauty. I go to dance clubs and revel in the glory of rhythm and motion. I am among the cheeriest people at my workplace, cracking jokes all day long, enervating co-workers' lives with my continual humour and uplifted mood.
The time I once spent at 5-7 meetings a week I now spend on myself, going to bookstores I love, taking classes in things that interest me, volunteering in causes I believe in, meeting friends I like, even dating young women that attract me, another first. For the first time I know what it is truly like to be alive.
Indeed, I have found a new freedom and a new happiness. That old feeling of uselessness has disappeared. My whole attitude and outlook upon life has changed.
These are the Twelve Steps that I took:
1. I admitted that I was not powerless over my existence - that I was an adult who could manage his own life.
2. I came to believe that only my own power could bring me to happiness.
3. I made a decision to take my will and my life back from the power of rigid and oppressive religious beliefs.
4. I made a searching and shameless list of my virtues.
5. I admitted to myself and others the exact nature of my good points.
6. I was entirely ready to accept myself for who I was.
7. I proudly learned to revel in and promote my own strengths.
8. I made a list of all who had harmed me, and resolved to stop making excuses for them.
9. I allowed myself to feel anger and the desire for revenge, and no longer felt guilt and shame about it.
10. I continued to take personal inventory and when I was right promptly admitted it.
11. I sought through reading and reflection to discover my own deepest desires for my life, and nourished the strength to realize my dreams.
12. Having had a spiritual liberation as a result of these steps, I resolved to let others find their own path, but that I would practice these principles in all my own affairs.
Yet do not let it be said, for a moment, that I regret at all the time I spent in OA and SA and in this loop. I do not. Many of the kindest, most decent people I have ever known I met here.
The two understanding and caring people who sponsored me, and who remain my friends - to them I can only confess humble gratitude, to pillars whom I fell upon when I was collapsing.
To my online girlfriend, whom I had met here on this loop - nothing but respect and awe for the wonderful, magnificent human being she is, and no regrets or worries about the time we spent together.
And to all the friends who took the trouble to email me, chat with me on AOL, listen to my fears, my tears, my worries, my stresses, my shame, and my despair, I cannot thank you enough. Each kind word was a jewel, each gentle letter a tribute to the love and compassion that enliven the human heart and enlighten the human experience.
I came from a family filled with hatred and despair and found here love and comfort. I had known only self-loathing and self-abuse and learned here the meaning of self-love. I had never been loved, really loved, by anyone in the world until I met this loop. And I mean that.
Know this: that a young man is alive today in no small part due to your efforts. And know also that although he leaves to sail off into the sunset, he will not forget you, nor will he ever cease to be awed and gratified by what you gave so freely.
I wish all of you, very sincerely, the best for your own recovery and happiness.
Oasis, Dec. 20, 1996.