The suggestions are free. You only have to pay for the ones you don’t take.
I love that. And, early on, Carole came to love it and quote it often so it’s stayed with me. I was telling her something or other. It’s a bit of a joke now, how when I told her something about AA, gave her a suggestion, she’d say she had to check it out with her sponsor. Who always agreed with me. Because I didn’t make any of that stuff up. It had all been tried. It was all found to be true.
Also, under the category “punctuation can save lives,” there is this truism:
“What?! An order?! I can’t go through with it!”
And so the steps are a “suggested” program of recovery. I understand that is because people in general, and alcoholics in particular, hate to be told what to do. Even though, if we are approaching AA, it is not because we have all the answers, or any of the answers. It is often a last resort.
I also think that the language of “suggestion” leaves the door open for more to be revealed.
Last night at my meeting, the topic was the “we” of the program. Where I live, we are abundantly blessed with many many AA meetings. And as far as I know, at the meeting, out of 25 of us, give or take a few, there was me and one other person from the class of ’84. Everyone else had less time than that, so had gotten sober more recently than that.
Many people shared that they called their sponsors, and no one else. For an introvert like me, that would have been a perfect scenario, but that’s not the way I recovered.
Back in the day, my sponsor made me call her every day after I had called someone else. In the days before cell phones, before even answering machines, this meant dialing the phone until someone answered, then talking to them. This meant leaving messages with husbands, friends and children. This meant approaching strangers and asking for their phone number. This meant starting as early in the day as possible, the better to ensure success.
I say “made me” because, by that time, I was quite desperate and ready to follow directions. That was the first time I achieved a lasting sobriety, even though it lasted only a short time. I mention the details about the length of my sobriety because I wonder if things have changed, and people are just easier on their sponsees than they used to be.
Anyway, the suggestions. “Take what you want, and leave the rest.” I don’t think that’s a good idea. “If you want what we have then you’ll do what we did” rings more true to me.