How persistently we claim the right to decide (Step Three continued)

But the moment our mental or emotional independence is in question, how differently we behave. How persistently we claim the right to decide all by ourselves just what we shall think and just how we shall act. Oh yes, we’ll weigh the pros and cons of every problem. We’ll listen politely to those who would advise us, but all the decisions are to be ours alone. Nobody is going to meddle with our personal independence in such matters. Besides, we think, there is no one we can surely trust. We are certain that our intelligence, backed by willpower, can rightly control our inner lives and guarantee us success in the world we live in. This brave philosophy, wherein each man plays God, sounds good in the speaking, but it still has to meet the acid test: how well does it actually work? One good look in the mirror ought to be answer enough for any alcoholic.

I vaguely remember wrestling with the God problem, because when I came to AA I was very anti-God.  I would hold hands but not say the prayers.  Things like that.  I was such a mess, and I wasn’t at AA because my intelligence and will power put together could do anything. My intelligence and will power up against alcoholism were powerless to keep my alive.

It’s an amazing experience to watch new people get it.  The degree to which they can go along is so often the degree to which they will be happy.  I struggle with that now, today.  I’m sure my intelligence and willpower still seek to control me in ways that are much less deadly than active alcoholism, but deadly none the less.  What kind of old-timer am I?  How much have I given over, and how much do I still withhold?

September 14, 2016 (this day)


I’ve been trying to grow plants that my indoor cats will eat.  They like wheat grass, and I sprouted that, but everything else is a bust.  My previous cats ate every plant in the house, and my daughter’s cat a few years ago ate my “poisonous” poinsettia.  The cat lived.  I don’t mean that it’s safe at all to do that.  I know what doesn’t hurt one cat will kill another.  But anyway my current cats are finicky.  This pot held an old sunflower sprout they wouldn’t eat, and parsley they wouldn’t eat.  And a caterpillar they may have eaten but I didn’t take it inside.  I let the caterpillar have at the parsley because no one else was eating it.  What I don’t know about caterpillars could fill many volumes.  Like why it arrived in September, and where it disappeared to.

This all has nothing to do with sobriety.  My sobriety news is sparse.  My meeting marked its twelve year anniversary, so that way nice.  The attendance is down a little bit and that’s also nice.  We’re getting just over 20 people instead of just over 30.  I don’t like the book “Daily Reflections.”  They read it at a meeting I go to and it often confuses people or, to my mind at least, sends them off on a faulty path.  My mother is upset with her sister and so she drinks, and tries to make plans.  My kids have a sober mother and I’m so grateful that they don’t know this particular experience.  And those are random thoughts for sure.

The drunk who brought you in will take you out.

This means that I have to change.  Some fortunate people come to AA and get a little sober time.  For whatever reason, they are able to stop drinking.  Some to be sure get a sponsor, work the steps go to meetings…and drink.  Some do it again and again.  I did it again and again.

I had heard the expression, “If you sober up a horse thief, all you will have is a sober horse thief.”  Now I think the automobile reigned even in AA’s early days but the point is that unless you change, you will drink, just as you always have.  That dysfunction person that made you first darken the doorstep of AA is still there, and that person will drink again.  You have to change.  No one comes to an AA meeting because life is good.

Happily, the way to change is laid out in the twelve steps, so there’s that.  It’s a very difficult process, and life long, so only a very few very fortunate individuals get to stay and change.  The drunk who brought me in cannot take me out.  She doesn’t exist any more.