‘Nada cambia si nada cambia’, ‘Nothing Changes, If Nothing Changes’ – AA Saying
I have made mention of a dear friend, Saia, in previous posts. Saia was my partner, business partner, and friend. He still is. We support each other and have for about 10 years, on our individual journeys.
Saia now lives in San Jose, Costa Rica. I live in Denver, Colorado. But, years ago, in San Antonio, Texas, we began a very successful journey to start our lives anew.
In the early 2000’s I met Saia in Costa Rica, while on vacation. We kept in touch and knew that we both were broken at the time. This is what bound us to each other because we did not judge each other’s brokenness.
But what was a greater force between me and Saia, was our desire to improve our lives.
My issues were similar to his, but not exact. My spiritual journey, with God, as I understood him, was similar to Saia’s but different. These differences did not deter us from pursuing our individual quests for freedom. He, choosing the way he felt most comfortable to him, and me choosing my method.
I did not see my challenges with drugs as serious as his with alcohol. I could not admit that I was an addict because I never felt that I was. I was a functional, a social user, who was certainly headed for addiction if I had not made quick changes. He may have seen me as an addict, but I am not sure.
I didn’t consider myself as an addict when I used drugs, namely because I never received enjoyment from them. In fact, when I used them, I hated them. I repeated the dreaded behavior due to accessibility and being surrounded by unhealthy triggers. AA taught me what triggers were.
I used drugs at a time when I was simultaneously being spiritually transformed. Back then, every time I used drugs, I felt extreme guilt and paranoia about my actions, to the degree that I could not enjoy them or anyone around me. Drugs often paralyzed me, due to this mental versus spiritual dilemma. It paralyzed me enough to lead me to ultimately stop.
As I worked my method though, I was able to be instrumental in Saia’s life, leading him to the first step towards recovery. I took him to enter in a program, and went to meetings with him, as a friend who care about him. I supported him, as I do today, through the recovery process.
During this period I wrote a lot of supportive recovery-themed songs and poems that I shared with Saia.
We would eventually share the songs and poems with others in recovery centers, at churches, senior centers, and wherever we were welcomed. One of our most favorite songs was One Step. See below.
Little did Saia know, that while attending AA meetings with him, I actually embraced and lived by some of the AA principles. I still do today!
I thought I was helping poor little Saia, but I was actually helping me. I connected with the steps 1 – 7, and step 11 passionately, not only as a recovery strategy but more importantly, as a way of life. Please refer to the 12 Steps below.
There are 2 adages of the AA Program that resonate with me most, even today. I am glad to see that they also resonate with Saia, who is now my most admired example and testimony of recovery. He has now been sober for 14 years and is doing incredible things to pay it forward with others.
I too am sober, but not as defined in the AA program. I don’t drink, but if I am in a social setting, which is rare, I may have a drink, usually 1 or a half of bottle of beer. I do no illicit drugs and haven’t for many years.
Here are the AA adages that I live by:
- ‘Fake it till you make it’
- ‘Nothing changes if nothing changes’
I share with you an interview with Saia, as well as his testimony.
It is very brave of Saia to share his life and wisdom for the benefit of others.
I encourage other followers to do the same, as I too aim to do with my blog.
Just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are moved to share your story and wisdom with others who would appreciate it.
Kevy: What problems in your life, emotions, or spirit led you to drink?
Saia: Being born with this chemical allergy, and realizing the facts of my life, made me develop a co-dependency with a substance that calmed down the emptiness and pain of accepting who I am, with my flaws, failures deceptions, abuse, and how society has responded to them.
Kevy: Give me your description of the 12-Step program. I will provide the actual steps for viewers of this post.
Saia: The twelve stop program is a spiritual adventure, it is not a religious program.
Each step includes spiritual principles which help you grow in the program.
Kevy: Which steps were the easiest and why?
Saia: There’s no easy step, however, the easiest for me was believe in a greater power that could release me from my insanity.
Kevy: Which steps still challenge you every day?
Saia: As life continues, on life’s terms, all steps are necessary at any time, the hardest thing is the sixth which is a principle that states I must face my natural character defects.
Kevy: What are the triggers you learned to avoid most?
- Attempting to sponsor me with no guide,
- Being too close to weak program members,
- Doing the program to please others and not for the real wish of recovery.
- Continuing to go to places of consumption
- Meeting the wrong people for where I am in my life, and finally
- Not having a sponsor and not attending meeting regularly.
Kevy: Have you been able to maintain relationships with most people who were in your life prior to sobriety? Explain how friends reacted?
Saia: Most of my friends, and especially family member supported me, especially those who knew me before and during active use.
Note: Saia comes from a family of ministers, theologians, and missionaries. He has been enveloped in this spiritual love, from his family, his entire life.
People admire the courage to improve my life in all areas.
Kevy: Who were the ones in your life who were most supportive of your sobriety?
Saia: My base group became the most supportive family, as an addict helping other another makes the program work. …Also sponsors and sponsees.
Kevy: Explain God’s role in this process.
Saia: The role of a higher power as we I understand is essential for any recovery.
There is no way for me to grow from this, without a power higher than myself.
Kevy: Tell me something revealing to you about your recovery as it relates to your spiritual process?
I always knew of such a power, but it was not until I completed step 3 was I able to embrace my own perception of this superior power, based on who he is, and who he is not for me.
Kevy: Which scripture was your rock during recovery?
Saia: Scriptures are not included in this program, but faith and spiritual principal are very important.
Here are some of the most important spiritual virtues: honesty, humbleness, and willingness & commitment to change.
Kevy: What are your favorite AA sayings and why? Do you have any famous quotes or quotes of your own which helped you through?
Saia: My favorite sobriety quote has been”
‘Nothing changes if nothing changes’
Kevy: Please state it in Spanish too
Saia: ‘Nada cambia si nada cambia’
Kevy: Give 3 top recommendations for others who wish to be sober?
- To gain sobriety and serenity one must attend meetings, and be open.
- To follow sponsor suggestions, from a sponsor who guides you on this spiritual ride.
- And, don’t forget to make meetings for, ‘if you bring the body the mind will follow’.
- Also, remember that ‘nothing changes if nothing changes’
Kevy: How do you pay it forward?
Saia: For the AA program, I ‘pay it forward’ by honoring the 7th Tradition (Giving a contribution to the cause of sobriety). This contribution does not necessarily involve money.
It involves making a service-oriented contribution to AA activities, such as conducting meetings, helping at events, cleaning, etc., to support the strength of the program, which helped me to begin new. The traditions expect that we should perform various kinds of acts to keep the program vibrant.
I am a sponsor to 4 sponsees. I now focus more on Narcotics Anonymous (NA), using the same 12 steps. Step 12 says that we need to carry on with the message.
A most important way that I pay it forward is by becoming a better person in life in all my roles – Sponsor, Brother, Son, Sponsor, Teacher, and Child of God.
Now, I am being the best version of me!
Through my acts and my deeds, people know that something good is going on in my life. When people see me as a spiritual person that they can lean on, they become attracted to my energy.
I find this happening daily with sponsees, classmates, students, jobs, and with family and friends.
They see another me, and they like it! This gives them hope and inspiration to continue on their paths.
In 2009, I had to leave San Antonio, Texas, with Kevy, to return to Costa Rica. My relationship with Kevy was facing a difficult time and closure as well. Leaving Kevy was hard but now I know God planned it that way because we both had different missions to complete. Both were positive but different.
The day when I left San Antonio, I remember with one suitcase, and my friend came and asked God, on my behalf, to hold me and give me the strength to leave all behind and start anew.
I cried so much. Six months later, I returned to Texas and was able to understand God’s plan for me, and it was for me to ultimately return to Costa Rica to stay.
There was another time when I felt I ‘loss it’, and I felt God’s presence. It was when my partner passed away. Never had I lived the experience of letting God, and letting go so vividly. It was very similar to my past experience in San Antonio, Texas, with Kevy. Both involved love, emotions, following dreams, and hope.
All these things seem lost, when something or someone is left behind.
I wanted to understand why this had happened to me.
God’s hands embraced me and gave me the strength to continue my college studies, renovate my home, and graduate one year later. My strength and faith in God grew as I achieved these accomplishments, while still on my path in recovery.
Completing step 4, 5, and, 6 helped me to better understand God’s plan for my life.
- Step 4 says that without fear, we should make a moral inventory of ourselves. It took me nearly 9 months to finish this step!
- Step 5 says that we should admit to, before God and ourselves, and before another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Step 6 states that we should be completely willing to let God remove all our character defects.
I should say that before these two experiences, that I’ve highlighted, my journey in recovery started when I met Kevy, because it was then that I realized I had a problem, and God’s love through him, took me to the room of recovery in which I have stayed for almost 14 years.
Before I met Kevy my disease was taking control of me and sooner I was going to give up.
God’s love and his hands worked in a way that I could meet Kevy and start this journey.
…Begin a journey which would lead me to the way to save my own life.
This journey gave me the opportunity to grow new feathers as an eagle does, so that I too could soar as an example, as a living testimony of how the program of recovery really works.
I proudly share the wisdom I gained, with you. – Saia
THE TWELVE STEPS OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with
- God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs
LOS DOCE PASOS DE ALCOHÓLICOS ANÓNIMOS EN ESPAÑOL
- Admitimos que éramos impotentes ante el alcohol, que nuestras vidas se habían vuelto ingobernables.
- Llegamos a creer que un Poder más grande que nosotros podría restaurarnos a la sensatez.
- Tomó la decisión de poner nuestra voluntad y nuestras vidas al cuidado de Dios tal como lo entendimos.
- Hizo un inventario moral inquisitivo y valiente de nosotros mismos.
- Admitimos a Dios, a nosotros mismos y a otro ser humano la naturaleza exacta de nuestros errores.
- Estamos completamente listos para que Dios elimine todos estos defectos de carácter.
- Humildemente le pedimos que elimine nuestros defectos.
- Hizo una lista de todas las personas a las que habíamos perjudicado y estuvimos dispuestos a repararlas.
- Hizo reparaciones directas a tales personas siempre que sea posible, excepto cuando hacerlo lesionaría a ellos o a otros.
- Continuó haciendo un inventario personal y cuando nos equivocamos lo admitimos de inmediato.
- Buscamos a través de la oración y la meditación para mejorar nuestro contacto consciente con
- Dios como nosotros lo entendimos a Él, orando solo por el conocimiento de Su voluntad para nosotros y el poder de llevarlo a cabo.
Habiendo tenido un despertar espiritual como resultado de estos pasos, intentamos llevar este mensaje a los alcohólicos y practicar estos principios en todos nuestros asuntos.
17 July 2018
SURRENDER AND SELF-EXAMINATION
My stability came out of trying to give, not out of demanding that I receive.
Thus I think it can work out with emotional sobriety. If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand. Let us, with God’s help, continually surrender these hobbling demands. Then we can be set free to live and love; we may then be able to Twelfth Step ourselves and others into emotional sobriety.
— THE LANGUAGE OF THE HEART, p. 238
Years of dependency on alcohol as a chemical mood-changer deprived me of the capability to interact emotionally with my fellows. I thought I had to be self-sufficient, self-reliant, and self-motivated in a world of unreliable people. Finally, I lost my self-respect and was left with dependency, lacking any ability to trust myself or to believe in anything. Surrender and self-examination while sharing with newcomers helped me to ask humbly for help.
AA members follow their own advice by “keeping it simple” with acronyms. These sayings inspire empowerment, prevention, and a reminder of the principles that are taught in the group. Some acronyms adopted by the AA community include:
- HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired (HALT) – Referring to the common triggers involved in relapse. When temptation strikes, make sure you’re putting your mind and body in check.
- SLIP – Sobriety Losing Its Priority (SLIP) – When menial issues take precedence over sobriety, this can challenge the recovery process.
- KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS) – Stress and over-complication can lead to temptation. Maintaining simplicity can cut the distraction and ensure focus on recovery.
- FEAR – False Expectations Appearing Real (FEAR) – Fear and anxiety are sometimes unfounded, but feel very real. Deciphering what is real and what is not is an important step in recovery.
- GOD – Good, Orderly Direction (GOD) – Guidance from a higher power is a core principle of the teachings of AA.
- EGO – Easing God Out (EGO) – Feeling that you can take on more than you’re able can lead to relapse. By easing out your higher power, you’re losing a level of support that is much needed in recovery.
- HIT – Hang In There (HIT) – The road to recovery is a very bumpy one. Sometimes, we need a good reminder that there are better times ahead.
When times get very rough, it may be difficult to think positive thoughts. These acronyms provide quick mental guidelines for boosting progress and thought conditioning. In recovery, you may find that these acronyms come in handy when a good reminder is needed.
Serenity Prayer – Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Just One Step
By Kevy Michaels & Saia
Each day after I awaken
First giving praise for my blessings
I decide to be brave
And not give into temptation
I know the target’s within my reach
I will never lose sight of my goal
It’s feels good to know that
I won’t walk alone
This journey won’t be on my own
If I choose to take
One step at a time
If I choose to take just one step
Spirit will lead me to the next one
Since there’s faith in my heart today
I will keep on moving forward
If I choose to take that one step
Sometime when on a path
I’ve doubted that I could succeed
Now my burden seems lighter
For I know that God’s light guides me
Oh no, I dare not forget
That I am truly blessed
And I promise to do my part
Then the spirit will handle the rest
If I choose to take
One step at a time
Si decides tomar un paso a la ves
El espiritu Te guiara al siguiente
Porque hay fe en tu corazon
Podras seguir hacia adelante.
For God loves me
And wants me to follow him
And I cannot let the spirit down
So I will not give in
I must keep on moving forward
And take that first step
If I choose to take that one step
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