Friday, 18 August 2017

Stop before it's too late

There is a terrible risk menacing pretty much everyone in AA. This (tongue-in-cheek) blog post is an open letter to anyone in AA concerned about the direction their recovery is taking.

There are a growing number of people in AA who seem to have crossed a line, and people who have crossed the line rarely seem to make it back. These people are very easy to spot:

  • They seem blithely indifferent to all sorts of things that used to be important to them and are still important to others (for instance, what is on television, what other people are saying about them, how their week pans out, in fact how their lives pan out).
  • They are so busy the whole time that they do not have time to listen to your grievances and recriminations. When they're not busy, they seem to be sitting very still somewhere.
  • When they do listen to your grievances, upsets, and recriminations, they have the temerity to suggest that you might be creating the world that you see around you and that you, rather than other people, are actively creating your emotions through your attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, demands, expectations, judgements, and condemnation. They seem completely unwilling to validate your experience. They are literally threatening the world you live in.
  • They propagate the nonsensical notion that your current experience of life is due to your current living of life, not the events of the past week, month, year, decade, or even remote past. It's as though they actually believe that what is going on in your mind now rather than what others did in the past is responsible for the emotions generated by your mind right now.
  • If business-people or academic folk, they waste a lot of time gaining impressive qualifications or soaring to dizzying heights in their careers but mention these things so rarely it's as though they don't care.
  • And here's the killer, the thing that proves they never did care about you: if you tell them they're no longer sponsoring you, they'll say, 'OK. See you around' and go back to what they were doing. No pleading. No hysterics. Nothing.
Fortunately, there are some simple remedies that can mitigate this risk, and this solution will be effective for the rest of your life as long as you maintain this fit spiritual condition.

The first important thing is to talk about 'balance' a lot. Except, as with everything else in AA, you need not just words but action. To achieve this, make sure your schedule has plenty of 'me time', and cut down on service, sponsoring, and especially 'spiritual' reading. Remember, other poor folks before you have fallen into the trap because they were not sufficiently aware of themselves and were so credulous when they were presented with new 'spiritual ideas' that, well, they fell for them hook, line, and sinker. Remember: with AA, a little goes a long way, and only a fraction of what is on offer is necessary to achieve what you want to achieve.

Secondly, remember that you are the centre of your universe, and unless you find out what your purpose in your life is, you can never feel that you have fully attained your life goals. Note the language of the previous sentence: there are eight 'yous' and 'yours'. Try to mimic this in your discourse about your own life to make sure you stay firmly anchored at the dead centre of things. Don't try to use the programme to change how you feel: sit with your feelings and honour them. Even though other people are responsible for them. Don't analyse that. But, when you feel at risk of forgetting about all of the bad things others have done to affect you, do find like-minded fellows to rake over the past with, and keep the focus on others' bad behaviour. If you don't do this, how will they ever change? Remember: you are responsible for ensuring that they change by concentrating hard on their faults. Just like they're responsible for your feelings. In spirituality, everything is connected. See?

Be very careful about what AA group to belong to and what sponsor to have. Avoid extreme groups and sponsors, and find someone whose life outside AA is what you aspire to. Wit, charm, panache, and allure are key. Obviously don't go to the other extreme and become all wishy-washy: again, balance is what is required. Good, solid AA, but none of the incessant banging on about God or the Steps. In fact, stop capitalising both: god and the steps. Aah! Feeling better already?

And the relevant slogan? Keep it simple!

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