Sunday, 5 May 2013

First things first

I came to AA with many problems other than alcohol. Most people do.

The ‘Just For Today’ card suggests I not try to solve all my life problem at once.

I have found that by applying the Twelve Steps, the Twelve Traditions, and the Twelve Concepts, most other problems have automatically dropped away. What then remains can be dealt with much more effectively.

Just as some cancer drugs reduce the size of the tumour before excision, the Twelve Steps, Traditions, and Concepts provide a stable structure for my life, an enormous amount of symptomatic relief, and clarity regarding what problems remain. These remaining problems can then be much more effectively excised, with a specific spiritual exercise, visiting another specific fellowship for a while, a specific type of external talking therapy, etc.

When I was six weeks sober in 1993, I was told that, unless I dealt with my ‘family-of-origin issues’, I would drink. I heeded this advice, went into therapy with a very skilled therapist, and soon started contemplating suicide or drinking. I could not cope with the magnitude of what was ‘coming up inside me’. I fortunately encountered Maureen, who suggested I get a sponsor, work the Steps, get a home group, do service, etc. I did this, and dropped the therapy. I am very glad I did. I cheered up immensely and felt great relief. I did indeed have some therapy many years later on my relationship with my father, which was very targeted. That helped a little. A few years after that, I did some specific Step work on my relationship with my mother. That helped hugely.

There is a time and a place for everything.

Sure: there is much that is wrong when one washes up in AA, but solving the biggest question first—the alcoholism—surely lays a solid foundation and provides sufficient resilience, stability, and courage for other issues to be faced in good time.

We do not need to get well overnight; but we do need to find a way to live sober today—literally today, because the only day I could slip and drink is today, and that is where the genius of the AA programme lies: it solves today’s problems today, by encouraging us to take today’s actions today and to leave our cares and our care to God.

The motto, here, is very simple: first things first.

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