Of course all A.A.’s, even the best, fall far short of such achievements as a consistent thing. Without necessarily taking that first drink, we often get quite far off the beam. Our troubles sometimes begin with indifference. We are sober and happy in our A.A. work. Things go well at home and office. We naturally congratulate ourselves on what later proves to be a far too easy and superficial point of view. We temporarily cease to grow because we feel satisfied that there is no need for all of A.A.’s Twelve Steps for us. We are doing fine on a few of them. Maybe we are doing fine on only two of them, the First Step and that part of the Twelfth where we ‘carry the message.’ In A.A. slang, that blissful state is known as ‘two-stepping.’ And it can go on for years.
As these things apply to me, first of all, I’m way too shy and introverted to ever get in trouble by carrying the message too much. To this day, for me to say hello to someone new, I have to completely force myself to do it, and I usually don’t do it, even though I know I should. I want to record here that two weeks ago, when our group celebrated Carole’s 15th anniversary, several people said it was her friendliness that made them comfortable and made them want to come back. Carole, in my experience, will allow no stranger to go ungreeted, and for many people, that really does make a difference.
My own brand of indifference would not result in not drinking and working with others. I’m afraid I might get by for periods of time by just not drinking. And usually, I think for me, that wouldn’t be because I’m satisfied, but more likely discouraged by something in life that I can’t accept or don’t have the energy and will to change my mind about. And I don’t mind ending sentences with prepositions but pride makes me point out that I know I did it.
However, the last time I remember letting any appreciable amount of time go by without somehow working to expand my program was at least several years ago, and it was sometime before I started this blog. I have, through the years, coasted at times and then redone the first five steps. When I began here, it was with the intention to purposefully revisit steps six through twelve and then, if I live long enough, to start over again.
In addition to writing about the steps here I began reading other AA blogs and other AA books, either books about AA or that were used in the inception of AA. At this point, though admittedly not actively raising children helps, I would not consider stopping continuous work on the steps.
Through writing here and then taking action elsewhere, I’ve refined my own personal list of character defects and I actively try to concentrate on one at time to better understand how it presents in my mind and in my life. I’ve collected new prayers or things to meditate on and made a list of people I want to “pray for” in order to consider them one at time – people I want good things for, people who I care about who are struggling, and people I find difficult.
Aside from all that, the two-steppers, I have known my share of them. My own personal favorite scenario is the person who came into AA at middle age in some kind of trouble. This type of person gets sober, pretty much leaves AA, but doesn’t drink. This person retires and needs a hobby and comes back to AA now with many years sober. This person then mentors untold millions throngs and oh gosh, I’m quite sure this person actually helps people get and stay sober. But NOT by power of example.
Now I’m off to do an inventory of my judgmental intolerance.