Thursday, 16 December 2010

Whose price is it anyway?

"Simple but not easy; a price had to be paid. It meant destruction of self-centeredness. I must turn in all things to the Father of Light who presides over us all." (14:1, 'Alcoholics Anonymous')

For a long time, I viewed this 'price' as a trade-off, a sacrifice on my part in return for which I would be granted freedom from alcohol and freedom from misery.

Funnily enough, the Book does not indicate who pays the price. I have learned it is not me who pays the price. It is my ego. In its death throes, it attacks me, in an attempt to prevent me from choosing God over it as the source of my power—it thus convinces me it is I who is making the sacrifice. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What I am being asked to sacrifice is being "confused and baffled by the seeming futility of existence" (51:0), it is the resentment and fear, it is the production of confusion rather than harmony.

"The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil." (82:3)

THIS is what I am being asked to give up: heartbreak, the destruction of relationships, the uprooting of affections, the domestic turmoil.

Hardly a sacrifice in the true sense of 'sacrifice', really, is it?

The ego's gifts—the flashes of pleasure at seeming (and short-lived) victory in the battle for supremacy, control, adoration, adulation, and obedience—are not gifts at all, but the drugs of a dealer who then supplies increasingly weak doses at increasing prices.

But, oh, the ego WILL suffer as it is battered by Steps Four through Nine. Which is why a short, sharp shock is as perfectly effective a way of proceeding through these Steps as a long, drawn-out exercise, and actually less painful, overall. Firstly, a few days or weeks of nagging, tormenting, temptation, and fear-mongering on the part of my ego throughout the process of its detonation will inevitably be less painful than a year of the same. Secondly, the exhilaration of momentum can sometimes drown out the ego's complaints, and speed can mean the ego has less time to devise and implement its defence mechanisms.

So: the price I have to pay is an illusion. The only obstacle, really, is the inevitable discomfort of the process. However, given that I am uncomfortable anyway at the beginning of the process, the discomfort of the process will likely be no worse than the discomfort of stasis.

Death to the ego.