This new outlook was, we learned, something especially necessary to us alcoholics. For alcoholism had been a lonely business, even though we had been surrounded by people who loved us. But when self-will had driven everybody away and our isolation had become complete, it caused us to play the big shot in cheap barrooms and then fare forth alone on the street to depend upon the charity of passersby. We were still trying to find emotional security by being dominating or dependent upon others. Even when our fortunes had not ebbed that much and we nevertheless found ourselves alone in the world, we still vainly tried to be secure by some unhealthy kind of domination or dependence. For those of us who were like that, A.A. had a very special meaning. Through it we begin to learn right relations with people who understand us; we don’t have to be alone any more.
OK I wasn’t really like THAT, but I can relate so strongly to this paragraph. I didn’t do barrooms and I thank goodness I didn’t panhandle, but I remember very well-being “alone” in my bedroom, embarking on a night of alcohol, searching for the perfect high and the right degree of drunkenness that would ease my pain. I also remember, even back in high school, drinking for oblivion because the pain of being conscious was just too much.
I wonder now, what the heck? What was so wrong with me that I couldn’t face reality undrugged? My home life wasn’t the best but there was nothing there that hurt me terribly. My school life wasn’t the best but again, I attended school –
Maybe this is important. I attended school. I did OK in school. I didn’t really have any good, close friends, but I wasn’t teased or bullied or shunned. I did have one very good friend one grade below me, and some other casual friends.
Physically there was nothing terrible or great about me. I had hope enough for the future and even some things I actually enjoyed in the present. I’m thinking about high school here, because that’s where my drinking began.
Although it all holds true for college as well, though there my drinking got so bad that I couldn’t function, do OK in classes, maintain a friendship or, eventually, function. Still it didn’t get to panhandling status for me and I’m grateful.
But in AA. Yes, it was so very important to find people who understood. Looking back, I’m grateful that I immediately believed the folks of AA who said they understood. I’m grateful that they welcomed me back again and again and again although, I have to say, they eventually shook their heads at me and threw up their hands as far as helping me stay sober was concerned. I’m grateful too that I’ve known the people of AA for all these years, for all of my adult life.
This “new” outlook is old to me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Sitting here today, writing this about how I used to be, I am profoundly grateful.