The Man on the Bed

This is my favorite AA symbol.  “The Man on the Bed,” “AA #3” also known as Bill Dotson.  To my understanding, once Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob had shared their stories and outlined the program of recovery, they knew they had to “pass it on” as the only way to keep it.  It’s that element of AA that enabled me to recover.  It’s not like reading a book or going to a therapist or doctor for treatment.  The resource of the real people who share my space, listen to me talk, comment on my life, ask me for advice, makes it work for me.

I’m an introvert.  Totally.  This isn’t the way I would choose to do it, given a choice.  Well actually, I would choose to do it this way now.  It’s not what I would have chosen at the beginning.  This, to me, is the miracle of AA I reference when I say, “Don’t quit before the miracle.”

Last night I got to celebrate my 24th anniversary with my group.  I understand that 24 years in not fathomable to some people.  That’s OK.  It’s still important for me to be there to show that it works.  I was able to articulate something with more clarity for myself, at least, as to what has helped me.  Through the years, when I’ve had upheaval in life situations and/or my mood and thoughts, I’ve turned to the program.  I’ll detail that more further along in “my story,” but what I can see is that when I’ve felt something wrong, I’ve been able to understand and believe that there’s something wrong in me, not in the program.

It’s become clear to me that this is one key to my long time sobriety.  I drank and relapsed many times before I got it.  I thought that AA wasn’t working for me.  That attitude, over the years, varied all the way from me just being too bored with sobriety not to drink all the way to thinking I was one of “those unfortunates” who, born that way, could not get it, and many places in between.  When I accepted my alcoholism, accepted that over any period of time it gets worse, accepted that drinking wasn’t an option, I really had no choice but to work the program or kill myself.

I figured and figure I’m going to die eventually anyway, why not give this a go?  Twenty four years later I’m considering the problems and opportunities of an oldtimer.

I’ve had the opportunity over the past two years to introduce someone to the program in a formal way, and that friend told her story for the first time at a meeting (she “lead,” or “spoke,” or “qualified” depending on how you say it) last night for me.  It’s an awesome experience to see her evolve and slowly pick up all the benefits and rewards of the promises of the Twelve Steps.  That’s why I like the symbol of the “man on the bed” best of all the symbols.  Really, if Bill and Bob had not shared it with Bill, I don’t know if I’d be or where I’d be but the miracle of the program is that I wouldn’t trade here and now for anything.

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