The alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so.
The text goes on to say that we need to get rid of selfishness, of self, or it will kill us.
This is painfully obvious to me, as it relates to drinking. No question I was not going to live much longer the way I was drinking. That’s an extreme example of selfishness, in that everything and everyone fell by the wayside and came second to what I wanted, which was to drink.
This seems as good a place as any to mention a sort of debate I’ve been having with Antonahill. This person has commented on my assertions that AA is not a cult. The discussion has gotten too convoluted and difficult for me to follow, with Anton quoting me and me quoting Anton. Our discussion travel over several posts and I have printed all of Anton’s comments in full. I just find I can’t really answer them anymore and make any sense, though I can address ideas one at a time.
Somewhere in there Anton asks if I hadn’t been exposed to the ideals of AA before. Ideals like honesty, hard work, and taking care of others. I was very young when I got sober, but of course I had been exposed to those ideals since I was born. Part of the magic of AA, for me, is that it gave me a concrete way and unlimited support to actually progress in my ability to live those ideals. If I had been able to do it alone, believe me, I would have.
I started to write this post with the Big Book quote, then I saved it as I was going to a meeting. At the meeting they read this very paragraph and talked about it for an hour. They talked about prerequisites for taking the Third Step and formally opening the door to giving up my own will to a higher power. Somewhere in the cult posts, Anton asserts that saying I am powerless is ridiculous.
I picture a tantruming toddler who has been put in her crib. She is powerless to get out of the crib or to bend circumstances or people to her will. She has the power to rant and cry and hurt herself and possibly some property. But really she is powerless over the conditions that set her off in the first place.
While I tried to have power over alcohol, I was powerless to make any kind of change for the better, to manage my life or to do anything other than race toward death. My will, the will of an active alcoholic, was killing me. I had to give it up to live.
Now I’m a bit farther down the road. I don’t will my own destruction any longer. But have I really reached the place where I want to be good just because it is good to be good?
My self-will battles with God’s will when I try to lose weight. The battle continues when I know that I must love someone, or forgive someone, or do something for someone that I don’t want to do. I can be stubborn to my own detriment and to the detriment of others. My self-will won’t let me easily erase lines I’ve drawn in the sand, or opinions I’ve formed and that I use to judge other people.
The leap from wanting and needing to drink to wanting and needing sobriety was a huge and profound change for me. The other changes are not so profound nor are they as long-lasting or as complete as that change was. I think that each time I knowingly act on my character defects, my self-will is, if not running riot, at least disturbing the peace quite a bit.