Any number of A.A.’s can say to the drifter, “Yes, we were diverted from our childhood faith, too. The overconfidence of youth was too much for us. Of course, we were glad that good home and religious training had given us certain values. We were still sure that we ought to be fairly honest, tolerant, and just, that we ought to be ambitious and hardworking. We became convinced that such simple rules of fair play and decency would be enough.
“As material success founded upon no more than these ordinary attributes began to come to us, we felt we were winning at the game of life. This was exhilarating, and it made us happy. Why should we be bothered with theological abstraction and religious duties, or with the state of our souls here or hereafter? The here and now was good enough for us. The will to win would carry us through. But then alcohol began to have its way with us. Finally, when all our score cards read ‘zero,’ and we saw that one more strike would put us out of the game forever, we had to look for our lost faith. It was in A.A. that we rediscovered it. And so can you.”
Again, I’ve included this mostly for completeness. I find it interesting that the passage goes from “alcohol began to have its way with us” to “one more strike would put us out of the game forever. ” For me, the time between those two was very short. The time when, for example, my good enough behavior and intelligence got me good grades in high school to the time when alcohol made me fail and drop college classes was very short. I’m grateful. So that’s the way I came back to believe, by being driven to my knees by the obsession to drink.
Something old! That’s me!! On May 1 I marked 31 years sober in AA.
There are people, I know them, who want to go out most nights to meetings the way they wanted to go out to the bar. There are people who need the endless repetition of the 12 steps and first 164 pages over and over and over again lest they lapse into alcoholic thinking. I’m glad they are there and I suspect they form the backbone of AA.
That’s not me. I drank at home and I prefer to be sober at home. I get bored with the same material interpreted in the same way over and over and over again. I need intellectual stimulation to keep my interested and yes, entertained.
I find all that in AA. I always have, and I have hope and faith that I always will.
Immediately when I contemplate this I know that I can only change myself, primarily, my mind. There are worldly things I can and should work to change as much as I can, but change in the object is not assured. I can only try.
The changes I attempt to bring about in myself are mostly things that bother me. OK, they are always things that bother me. My character defects bother me, and so I seek to change them. I’ve heard it said a lot lately in the rooms that I can’t think my way into right action, I have to act my way into right thinking. I learned this, didn’t I, when I had to stop drinking first in order to achieve sobriety? My drunken self was never ever ready to live life sober. I had to act sober by not drinking in order to learn how to do it and to get comfortable at it and to get good at it.
So it goes with the things I try to change now. I’m trying to be a thinner person by counting calories and so eating like a thinner person eats. My chubby self is never ready to eat like a thin person. I’ve learned over the years to stop when something triggers anger in me, not to react but to let it sit for a while and see how I feel about it when the anger chemicals aren’t flowing. I’m trying to do that with the things I fear. I’m trying to calm my body and my mind and feed the rational, sane side that knows for a fact this thing is not dangerous, or that nothing bad is happening right here, right now.
I’m finding it harder to change as I get older, and I think that’s because the changes are not so drastic now, plus I have to accept the changes of aging, and those can be difficult to adjust to. As always I’m extremely grateful for the template Alcoholics Anonymous has provided as directions for how to do these things, and the successful it has given me in doing it. Can the pickle ever turn back to the cucumber? I don’t know, but today I don’t seek or even accept alcohol, and that is a drastic and successful change if ever there was one.