It has struck me, looking at what I know of the life of Bill W from books, movies, CDs, and being in the rooms, how drastically he went from only trying to please himself to caring almost completely about others. There’s a scene in, I think, My Name is Bill W, where Lois says something to him about something she needs, and he basically says he can’t give it to her. That without devoting himself to suffering alcoholics, he will die.
I read some sobriety blogs, some by people who are in and working AA, some who are not. Those trying to stay sober without AA have been to AA and rejected it for various reasons. I rejected it for many reasons, so I understand that. Ultimately I couldn’t be sober without it, but that’s just my experience. I know that many people do maintain sobriety without AA.
With that disclaimer out of the way, I’ll say that something I notice these non-AA alcoholics are missing is work with other alcoholics. And by “work” I mean, at a very basic level, the contact with other alcoholics that attendance at AA meetings gives, even if a person arrives late, leaves early, and doesn’t interact with anyone. To me that is “work” with other alcoholics at a minimum level, and it goes up from there to sharing at meetings, befriending people, having or being a sponsor, setting up and cleaning up meetings, putting $2 in the basket (please, people, put $2 in the basket – what did your alcohol cost for goodness sake?), greeting someone at the door and telling them where the coffee and bathroom is.
They miss out on all that. And of course they miss out on the “program,” which is the best and most important part. I wonder sometimes if it’s easier to stay self-centered outside of AA, and if self-centeredness really is the root of our problem.
Being considerate in AA is almost always easy. From time to time there appears someone who rubs me the wrong way for some big reason. I have lots of trouble with arrogant men. I also have trouble with very tall people. Sometimes there is someone who acts in an aggressive way that is frightening. I’m usually not actually frightened at meetings, because there are generally lots of people around to intervene in any actual violence. But Carole and I open our house to people, and if we have an AA “party” that’s all the people, and sometimes I wonder or worry if some individual is dangerous. So far so good.
But again, the scary and difficult people in the rooms are easy. My guidelines are clear and at least I know that I am to keep trying to love each and every one like I do each and every other one. I have an ideal and a plan and lots of guidance.
Outside of AA I hope I’m generally considerate. I spend my days with people with multiple severe disabilities, and it’s easy and obvious that I should be considerate of them and put their needs ahead of my own. I’m paid and called to do that. Yet even there, there are some individuals who irritate the heck out of me, and once in a while, one who scares me. But again my path is clear and obvious.
So I looked it up:
Careful not to cause inconvenience or hurt to others.
A worthy goal indeed.