Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The cardinal error of the recovered alcoholic

A year or so ago, I found myself somewhat angry at pretty much everyone in AA. What is more, my anger was totally 'justified'. I could use the Big Book to back up every single judgement.

I'm grateful strong sponsorship showed me a way out of that trap, because I was becoming useless.

What follows is a cheeky rewriting of pages 60 to 62 of the Big Book, from this specific angle.

If I discover myself remotely concerned with anyone else's programme (or lack of it), I need to read this and see where I am at fault.

Either my troubles are of my own making or they are not. Either I believe what the Book says in this regard, or I don't. Any emotional disturbance will point the finger directly back at me.

"The first requirement is that we be convinced that AA run on self-will can hardly be a success. On that basis we are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives—saving the lives of suffering alcoholics—are good. Most people try to carry the AA message by self-propulsion. Each Twelfth-Stepper is like a humble servant who tries to run the whole of the Fellowship; is forever trying to arrange the meeting, group business, the service structure, and the lives of his sponsees in his own way. If only his arrangements would stay put, if only people would work the Steps as he wished, if only people would follow the Big Book not the 'Twelve and Twelve', if only people would carry the message, not the mess, if only people would ditch the therapy-speak, if only people would stop talking about other addictions, AA would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be happy, joyous, and free. AA would be wonderful. In trying to make these arrangements our humble servant may sometimes be quite virtuous. He may be kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing. On the other hand, he may be mean, egotistical, selfish, and dishonest. But as with most humans, he is likely to have varied traits.
What usually happens? The show doesn't come off very well—his sponsees become disaffected, he gets a reputation in local AA meetings for being a fascist, and local AA is polarised into two self-righteous camps, each convinced the other is wrong. He begins to think AA doesn't treat him right. He decides to exert himself more. He becomes, on the next occasion, still more demanding or gracious, as the case may be. Still AA does not suit him. Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, he is sure that other people are more to blame. He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying. What is his basic trouble? Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of AA if he only manages well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the alcoholics that these are the things he wants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of AA? Is he not, even in his best moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony?
Our humble servant is self-centred—egocentric, as people like to call it nowadays. He is like the retired Twelfth-Stepper who lolls in the Sunshine of the Spirit complaining of the sad state of the Fellowship; the bleeding deacon who sighs over the sins of 'Middle of the Road AA'; politicians and reformers who are sure AA would be Utopia if everyone else would only behave; the deposed group chairman who thinks the group has wronged him; and the Twelfth-Stepper who has lost all credibility and is locked up in the prison of his own judgements. Whatever our protestations, are not most of us concerned with ourselves, our resentments, or our self-pity?
. . . So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making.
. . . We had to quit playing God. It didn't work."

"AA does not belong to you. It did not even belong to Bill or Bob. They were the co-founders. AA was founded by God, and that is who it belongs to." (Poplar Paul)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank God for this document.