Certainly no alcoholic, and surely no member of A.A., wants to deprecate material achievement. Nor do we enter into debate with the many who still so passionately cling to the belief that to satisfy our basic natural desires is the main object of life. But we are sure that no class of people in the world ever made a worse mess of trying to live by this formula than alcoholics. For thousands of years we have been demanding more than our share of security, prestige, and romance. When we seemed to be succeeding, we drank to dream still greater dreams. When we were frustrated, even in part, we drank for oblivion. Never was there enough of what we thought we wanted.
Threads of my personality and my religion come together for me here. Add to that the fact that I was so young when I stopped drinking, so I didn’t get to experience much of the adult world while active. Also, I was just so plain gone. My drinking for things like victory or defeat didn’t have much of a chance to materialize. I so very quickly drank because I drank because I drank.
I have often selfishly and in a frightened way obsessed about not having enough ……. whatever. I remember an interesting discussion I had with my mother and her sister after their parents, my grandparents, had died. My mother and sister said that their parents always gave them the impression that the wolf was at the door. There was heavy emphasis on being frugal and saving and not wasting anything, because …… well there’s the question. Why?
My grandparents were born in 1905 and 1908, in Germany and Scotland. In the US, they met and got married during the depression. My grandmother was in nursing school, and she did graduate and become a nurse. My grandfather was a cabinet maker and carpenter and he was able to do things like build houses and furniture and do plumbing. To my knowledge, my grandmother did not work as nurse. They quickly had children, and she cared for them and ran a portion of my grandfather’s business. Until he retired, and even after, they had a phone in the kitchen that was for the business, and my grandmother answered it and took messages and sent him out on calls.
We (me, my mother and my aunt) have no doubt that they lived through hard times, and I do remember my grandmother telling me about some difficulties during the rationing of World War II. Not that they were desperately lacking, but I guess some people around them needed some necessities, like coal, that if shared, my grandmother may not have had enough for her family.
When we look back at pictures of them, we see nice cars, furniture, jewelry. It just doesn’t look like it was all that tough. The about to starve mentality, though, was certainly there. They had it, and they passed it down, and my mother gave it to me.
There are ways this has worked to my advantage. I’m very careful with money, and I have no debt besides a mortgage. I am very grateful for this, and I try to pass this on to my kids. But I think the fear of starving is out of place for my situation. It intensified for me when I had a baby. I read a book that explained that the young family you see on TV in the homeless shelter is the exception, that’s why they are on TV. All their family support systems have broken down. I’ve tried in a big way for the past 20 plus years to remind myself that my mother and my in laws would not let me or my children be homeless. We’ve come to the time when I can even actually depend on my children, if I need to. We’ve come here safely.
I’ve always had a knowledge that I have too much material wealth, that I’m not sharing well in a Christian sense. The way that I still, at this point, demand more has to do with my selfish insecurity. Fear of economic insecurity is huge for me, much bigger than it should be given my situation and my length of sobriety. And again, I hoard things, in a sense, and I don’t give enough away. I don’t have enough to feel secure in the material sense. In the words of the quote above, never is there enough.